In the 118th Congress, political-party power is divided. The House is narrowly controlled by Republicans 222-213, and the Senate is narrowly controlled by Democrats 51-49. While divided control may make legislating difficult, House and Senate committees will look to move their respective party’s priorities forward in the hopes that compromise is achievable and/or to lay the groundwork for advancing legislative initiatives should either chamber flip control in the 2024 elections.
Furthermore, they will conduct oversight of federal agencies’ regulatory initiatives. Now that both chambers have finalized their committee rosters, we are highlighting some of those that will be critical in addressing tree care industry priorities this Congress.
Workforce safety and development
Two committees of utmost importance to TCIA are the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. As these committees maintain jurisdiction over legislation and federal agencies related to occupational safety and health and wage-and-hour law, as well as education and training, their knowledge of and support for the tree care industry is vital.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) will chair the HELP Committee alongside ranking member Bill Cassidy (R-LA). In the House, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) will lead the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Seen below are relevant subcommittees that will be essential in advancing the tree care industry’s separate standard.
House Workforce Protections Subcommittee
The House Workforce Protections Subcommittee is led by Chair Kevin Kiley (R-CA-3) and ranking member Alma Adams (D-NC-12). The subcommittee has jurisdiction over issues including, but not limited to, occupational safety and health and all matters related to equal employment opportunity, in addition to civil rights in employment. Notably, Congresswoman Adams attended EXPO ’22 in Charlotte to increase her familiarity with the industry and speak with members about workplace safety practices that TCIA promotes.
Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee
The Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee is led by Chair John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and ranking member Mike Braun (R-IN). The subcommittee maintains jurisdiction over workforce education and training, worker health and safety and wage-and-hour law. TCIA maintains a strong relationship with both senators Hickenlooper and Braun, and both senators have met with TCIA board members and been instrumental in hearing industry concerns and encouraging OSHA to move forward with the separate standard.
Both the House Judiciary Committee, led by Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH-4) and ranking member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-12), and the Senate Committee on Judiciary, led by Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) and ranking member Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have oversight of the H-2B visa program, which is relevant to TCIA member companies that rely on seasonal laborers during peak seasons. TCIA regularly updates its members on matters related to the H-2B program and those working in the United States under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on its Advocacy site.
The House Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement has jurisdiction over immigration and naturalization, among other things, and is led by Chair Tom McClintock (R-CA-5) and ranking member Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-7).
Its counterpart in the Senate is the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, led by Chair Alex Padilla (D-CA) and ranking member John Cornyn (R-TX).
The House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Appropriations are responsible for appropriating funding for most federal government functions. The full Senate committee is led by Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) alongside ranking member Susan Collins (R-ME), while the full House committee is led by Kay Granger (R-TX-12) alongside ranking member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3).
The committees are organized into 12 parallel subcommittees, each of which is charged with developing, drafting and managing one appropriations act each fiscal year. In addition to appropriations bills, the subcommittees draft accompanying reports and provide agencies with detailed information on how Congress intends for agencies to use appropriated funds.
The House and Senate subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies write the legislation that funds the Department of Labor and its agencies, as well as appropriations related to education and health and human services. The House subcommittee is led by Chair Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) alongside Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3). At the same time, the Senate subcommittee is led by Chair Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) alongside ranking member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
Throughout the 118th Congress, TCIA will work with these important committees to underscore the critical role of the tree care industry in our society and economy. Follow TCIA’s Twitter page and keep up with our Advocacy site to ensure you get the latest legislative and regulatory news and information related to the industry.
Josh Leonard is a legislative assistant with Ulman Public Policy, TCIA’s Washington, D.C.-based advocacy and lobbying partner.