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The State of: Fall 2021 Politics

News / The State October 25, 2021

Credit: Anthony Quintano / CC BY 2.0 

Through a series of articles we call The State, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy and Political Affairs team is providing analysis related to "the state of" various aspects related to advocacy and political trends impacting farmers and ranchers and rural Americans.

The State of: Fall 2021 Politics

As we enter the final months of 2021, we’re barreling toward the culmination of the policy and political differences between the Democrats and Republicans.  

With the potential passage of the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in the coming days, where does that leave the proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill?  Congress’ work on the reconciliation bill over the past few months – particularly efforts to reduce the overall price tag of the bill to $2 trillion – could have created the consensus needed for Congress to pass this bill, along with the infrastructure package, before November.

The bipartisan infrastructure plan approved by the Senate is unchanged. If passed by the House, the bill could go to President Joe Biden for signature immediately.

These legislative accomplishments are needed for the president and the Democratic Congress. The president’s approval rating has dropped into the low- to mid-40% range.  Doubts about President Biden's handling of several issues —the economy/inflation, supply chain disruptions, Afghanistan withdrawal, illegal immigration and COVID — are some of the reasons for the drop in his approval rating.

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Late November and December are going to be difficult, politically speaking, when focus turns to Dec. 3, the date that government funding runs out and the rough date the Treasury Department will again hit the debt limit. The government funding deadline is set in stone, while the debt-limit deadline can shift depending on the level of Treasury’s inflows and outflows at that time.

It seems exceedingly unlikely that Republicans will help Democrats with lifting the debt limit, again leading to political calculations and discussion on default and a potential government shutdown.

Once we get to the new year, the political focus of the country will shift to state legislatures and redistricting for the 2022 elections.  More to come on that in future columns.

This fall is shaping up to a busy time in Washington, D.C., with many issues affecting farmers and ranchers.  To have a say in Farm Bureau’s policy direction in 2022, please see a recent  Zipline article on the topic: Farm Policy from the Grassroots Up.

Cody Lyon is AFBF’s managing director of advocacy and political affairs.

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