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Business Challenges in the U.S. Congress: Conversations, Deferred Proposals, and Hopes for 2024

We are slowly winding down the year and similar themes will now emerge with summaries of what was accomplished, not accomplished, and so on. Almost all of us here are invested in the US so let's take a look at what it looks like there.

Congressional dysfunction has led to an unusually low number of bills signed into law in 2023 (22 bills). The comparison to the previous two years, when 365 new laws were passed, is quite laughable. A number of key questions remained unanswered due to political gridlock and problems with the legislative process.

There has been no reform of the permitting processes in the energy sector. Lengthy approval processes for new projects, such as solar plants and pipelines, remain an obstacle for fossil fuel and clean energy producers.

Further finalizing the debt ceiling agreement, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Barrasso (R-WY) in May promised to unveil a larger bipartisan effort this summer. But a bill hasn't been drafted yet, and Manchin instead announced plans to leave the Senate in 2025.

Another issue that still lingers is the effort to allow cannabis banking in the U.S. Marijuana may be legal in many states, but businesses involved in the sector often don't have access to financial services because of federal laws that prohibit marijuana. A potential fix, called the SAFER Banking Act, has passed a Senate committee but has not yet been fully debated.

Another stalled initiative was an effort around pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) who administer prescription drug benefits under health insurance plans. Here's a link to list the contents, for those interested in learning more.😊https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/senate-bill/127

Another challenge has been the missed opportunity to address long-discussed issues regarding Americans' privacy. Despite expectations that a breakthrough could occur, lawmakers still have not implemented the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) of 2022 lying fallow.

Another issue that remains on the 2024 agenda are two ongoing efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies - one law focused on the structure of cryptocurrencies and another focused on stablecoins. The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry, has indicated that he would like to accomplish something on cryptocurrencies as a sort of legacy before he leaves in 2025.

So here's a quick read to summarise what didn't get done and is quite a pressing issue. Of course, one could probably find more. For me, summing it up from an investor and sector perspective. Leaving aside US debt, it is still pushing forward and how far can it go? ...I don't think anyone knows. 🤷‍♂️

I personally am most curious about the energy sector from this list. Whether the government will go along with solar and companies of this type will rise again. 😊 As far as potential opportunities working with mariuhana, there the possibility of financing by banking houses could shoot up the stock price a lot. (I don't have any companies of this type in my sights yet, but I'm sure there would be some) And since I have a pharmacy chain rep in my portfolio (CVS), I'm curious what the completion of the Transparency for Pharmacy Benefit Managers Act could do to the price of pharmacy chains. 😊

What about you, how do you view these issues, could this affect your interest in certain companies or fear for their future in any way?


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