Following the recent elections, there is a lot of prognosticating about the projected lack of congressional action on climate policy with a split Congress. We certainly will not see Inflation Reduction Act 2.0 levels of climate spending, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic if you care about these issues.
House Republican committee chairs with jurisdiction over energy and environmental policies are quick to point to areas that they want to pursue, whether that be grid modernization, wildfire mitigation, or increased R&D. We always say that the real progress is happening in the “below the fold” issues that are not partisan messaging bills, and some of these policies will be no different. We still expect bipartisan wins and knowing where to look is critical to understanding progress made on these issues. While this policy will likely not be branded as climate policy, the policies that will pass will have winning messaging for both sides of the aisle, especially in areas of natural infrastructure, economic growth, rural development, and innovative agriculture.
Areas where these bipartisan agreements could advance include:
Farm Bill: The Farm Bill, which authorizes forestry, conservation, agriculture, and nutrition programs every five years, will be the main show in town this Congress since it will need to be updated by October 1, 2023. House and Senate Agriculture Committees will need to come to a bipartisan agreement on new authorized funding levels for critical conservation programs, and we expect to see strong consideration of new carbon markets, increased reforestation efforts, and updated conservation easement policies. These decisions, many of which will have bipartisan support, will have lasting implications on agriculture and conservation programs for the next five years.
Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Modifications: Republicans in both chambers are committed to rewriting and modifying sections of the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law next year. Bills of that length often need to be amended to adjust and update for unforeseen challenges. While many of these bills will be partisan in nature and will not be considered in the Senate, there are some instances where there could be strong bipartisan support to expand eligibility or modify language within both of these measures.
Appropriations: House and Senate Appropriations Committees will begin working on a new FY24 spending bill next year, and with that will come new levers of influence and priorities. Some of the more controversial programs within the Biden Administration will face funding hurdles, but we expect many R&D-focused programs to maintain high funding levels. When Republicans controlled all levers of government under the Trump Administration, programs within Department of Energy saw historically high budgets and we do not expect that to change should an FY24 omnibus make it through Congress.