The looming election season, with control of the Senate up for grabs, means there will be little opportunity for action on some bills of importance to the industry before the lame-duck session in November and December.

Many of the bills of concern to food retailers will likely be pushed into 2015, according to Jennifer Hatcher, SVP, government and public affairs, Food Marketing Institute.

“We are in a situation where the big primaries and runoffs, and the real chance for potential of change of control in the Senate, has pushed politics ahead of productive public policy much earlier than normal,” she told SN. “It has really slowed the possibility for legislative activity until the lame duck session.

Jennifer Hatcher“So, a lot of the work we are doing right now is getting things to a point where they have the possibility for action in the lame-duck session, because there is such a limited possibility for action right now.”

Even legislation that has broad bipartisan support, such as a bill to curb patent trolls, will likely not see action because of the preoccupation with campaigning on the Hill.

Legislation to extend tax credits to businesses for certain investments, parts of which are broadly supported in Congress, also will not likely see action until after the Nov. 4 elections, Hatcher said, while a broader discussion of tax reform has likely become an issue for 2015.

“We won’t even see that in the lame duck session,” she said.

One of the pieces of legislation that does have a chance for action before the lame duck session is approval of the highway trust fund, which expires in September.

“Clearly we can’t go on without a way to fund our roads and bridges,” Hatcher told SN. “We are certainly hopeful and expecting that they will come up with a short-term fix.”