Outside of marquee legislation, like large funding packages and major reauthorization bills, it often feels like polarized politics and the 24-hour news cycle have effectively ended the practice of bipartisan cooperation. But substantive collaboration on legislation that isn’t necessarily considered “must-pass” exists if you know where to look.
In the coming weeks, a bipartisan working group in the House expects to release a legislative framework to harmonize the existing patchwork of state paid leave laws. The group’s co-chair, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), said recently that policy guidelines to shape legislative text should be released before the end of the year. Options include expanding a tax credit for employers that offers paid leave and encouraging more public-private partnerships in the insurance space in states with mandatory paid family and medical leave laws.
Legislation touching on outdoor recreation has seen strong bipartisan cooperation in 2023. Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the bipartisan Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act. The Senate’s version of the legislation, the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, was marked up by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in July. Once the House bill is marked up next year, expect a full-scale effort by proponents in both chambers to socialize the benefits of the legislation for full passage.
A bipartisan bill aimed at providing tax benefits to Taiwan is pending floor consideration after it was unanimously passed by the House Ways and Means Committee last week. The bill incorporates provisions from several pieces of legislation to provide relief from double taxation and direct the president to negotiate a tax agreement with Taiwan.
Congressional interest in regulating artificial intelligence has remained steady throughout the last year. With less than 11 months to go until the 2024 general election, lawmakers are particularly concerned about the potential for AI to influence election outcomes. For example, the bipartisan Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act seeks to head off anticipated attempts to influence 2024 elections by banning the coordinated and intentional dispersal of deepfakes with the intent to influence an election or solicit funds.
There are over 200 bills that have passed in either the House or Senate. While many of these were passed along party lines and won’t see the floor in the other chamber, there’s potential for a select few to make it over the finish line next year. In particular, legislation that supports small business - like the Small Business Contracting Transparency Act of 2023 or the Successful Entrepreneurship for Reservists and Veterans Act - have a serious potential for passage, as well as bills that provide disaster relief resources (particularly related to the wildfire crisis).
We’ll also likely see bipartisan cooperation lead to enactment of several priorities before the end of 2023. In addition to the NDAA and a foreign aid supplemental/border security bill, there’s potential for an FAA extension and FISA reauthorization in the next few weeks. In any case, the next two weeks are a good time for stakeholders to reevaluate legislative priorities and strategies going into the second session of the 118th Congress. Despite what virtually everyone expects to be a painful election year, bipartisan opportunities do exist. With the right strategy and partners, organizations can participate in across-the-aisle dealmaking and land legislative wins.