News

New political landscape, same drill

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Washington, D.C. — There’s hope for regulatory relief, but the national health care system is in shambles.

That’s one general, and arguably oversimplified, takeaway from a policy-rich, reform-focused morning of presentations here during the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association’s Legislative Conference.

“Health care is a mess, and we’ve got to come back to it because Obamacare is in a free fall collapse,” said Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., a Tuesday morning breakfast speaker.

Griffith, who represents the Virginia district of NLBMDA chairman George Lester, equated the current health care system to a poorly built house that’s cheaper to rebuild than repair. And there are political and moral reasons to make things better. “We can’t have people who don’t know the details say, ‘Republicans are in charge, and things are getting worse,’” he said. “We’ve got to try to fix it.”

Beyond the inside-the-beltway insights, dealers went inside the halls of power to press their case, with pretty good results.

According to the NLBMDA, these congressional visits paid immediate dividends with 20 members in the House of Representatives signing on as co-sponsors to the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 631). With respect to regulatory reform, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, plans to introduce a Senate version of the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 5) in the coming weeks, following passage in the House in January. Overall, NLBMDA members met with nearly 150 lawmakers or their staff during the conference to advance the public policy priorities of the lumber and building material industry.

NLBMDA members focused on a range of issues as part of the visits with lawmakers that included the following:

  • Improve regulations by updating the Administrative Procedures Act and eliminating back door rule makings through sue and settle agreements;
  • Renew the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the U.S. and Canada; and
  • Preserve the mortgage interest deduction and its role in American housing policy.

The annual conference took place for the first time under the Trump administration, and came just days after an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, died in Congress.

There was optimism for reform of burdensome regulations. Under President Trump, two executive orders are in the books. One requires agencies to establish task forces to seek out excessive regulations. Another requires agencies to repeal two regulations before proposing a new one.

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