Both the House and Senate are in session today. Without a real plan for how to address the $85 billion sequestration, it appears the cuts will go into effect. House Republicans met in closed session yesterday for over an hour to discuss the next steps and how to deal with the next looming financial crisis: the Continuing Resolution which will fund the government through the end of the year. The current Continuing Resolution expires March 27th, and there have been debates about the overall level of spending and whether the legislation could be used to reallocate some of the sequestration cuts away from defense and other national security programs by imposing deeper cuts on other discretionary programs.
The House will continue its consideration of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, while the Senate looks to take up competing plans to modify the across the board cuts set to be imposed by sequestration. The Democratic plan would raise taxes on top earners and oil sands producers while imposing cuts to some defense and farm programs. The GOP alternative would give the Administration till March 15th to submit a plan prioritizing the cuts, which would go into effect unless Congress passes a resolution disapproval by March 22nd.
Other Items of Interest:
The Senate confirmed Jack Lew to serve as the next Secretary of Treasury on Wednesday evening by a vote of 71 to 25. This follows the confirmation of Chuck Hagel to serve as the new Secretary of Defense. The nomination hearing for Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of the Interior is set for next week. The nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA will wait another week as Senators continue to request additional information.
Senator Vitter and Senator Hoeven introduced broad legislation to expand energy production and streamline permitting processes for new energy projects. The legislation which has 18 Republican cosponsors would also open new areas in Alaska, limit the reach of the EPA, and expedite the approval of the Keystone Pipeline. A copy of the legislative text can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/YZ3hvU
Shell announces pause in Arctic drilling programme. On February 27th, Shell announced its decision to pause exploration drilling activity for 2013 in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to prepare equipment and plans for a resumption of activity at a later stage. A copy for the article from Rigzone about the announc ement can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/ZCeCUQ.
At 9AM Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Environment and the Economy Subcommittee and Energy and Power Subcommittee are holding a joint hearing on “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): Policy and Governance Challenges.” The Committee will hear testimony from: NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane; and NRC Commissioners George Apostolakis, William Magwood, William Ostendorff and Kristine Svinicki. The background materials and webcast can be viewed at: http://energycommerce.house.gov.
The EIA released a report on Wednesday showing that emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the electric power sector in 2012 declined to their lowest level since the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The announcement from the EIA can be viewed here: http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10151#.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report two years in the making offering fifty recommendations for energy policy where consensus can be reached. The report focuses on natural gas and efficiency as areas were bipartisanship can be achieved. A copy of the report and a webcast of the release event can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/14s7tck.
On February 26, USGS released its new assessment of in-place resources, recoverable resources, and economic reserves of coal in the Powder River Basin, the first of a new generation of coal assessments from the USGS. Estimates of total in-place coal resources in the PRB are 1.07 trillion short tons, while recoverable coal resources are 162 billion short tons, and coal reserves are 25 billion short tons. Links to the assessment and background on coal production in the US can be reviewed here: http://on.doi.gov/VOYNKR.
Committee Assignments: Foreign Affairs and Transportation & Infrastructure
Chief of Staff: Jonathan Bray
Legislative Director: James Cho
Experience: Rep. Frankel spent 14 years in the Florida state legislature where she held the position of State House majority whip and later was minority party leader from 2000 to 2002, the first woman in state history to hold that office. She became mayor of West Palm Beach in 2003 and held the office for eight years. She defeated Republican Adam Hasner to win her seat.
Importance: In announcing her run, Frankel said she would focus first on creating jobs. During her campaign, she advocated providing incentives to small businesses to create jobs, investing in infrastructure and protecting Social Security and Medicare. She campaigned on a plan including improved technology and simpler bills to eliminate $350 billion in Medicare fraud over five years. She believes in tax breaks for middle class families and closing loopholes for Big Oil companies. Her son served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. In Congress, she said she would advocate for veterans’ job training, career development and funding to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Rep. Frankel is a talented and motivated Member who was once courted to run against then-Gov. Jeb Bush. With a commitment to support job creation, the middle class, and seniors; she is in position to support infrastructure development and expanded trade opportunities.
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime. Hope you all have a great Thursday!
Michael D. Zehr
HBW Resources, LLC
1666 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006