1. Several NECA priority issues are still being considered for final action before the 114th Congress adjourns this month.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA continues to participate in discussions on the inclusion of composite plans and whether the provision will be included in a pension refom package that would prevent the expiration of health-care benefits for 12,500 retired United Mine Workers of America. Next week, the House and Senate plan to vote on a conference report still being negotiated for reauthorizing the Water Resources Development Act. It is expected that the water-projects package will be the best legislative vehicle for providing as much as $170 million to help Flint, Michigan clear lead pollution from its municipal water system. Lastly, we are mounting a final effort to extend several tax breaks for new energy technologies.
2. As Congressional leaders look towards an adjournment target date of December 9, House and Senate negotiators have yet to find consensus on the duration of the next short-term spending bill to keep the government running.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Once a full-year measure funding the government through Sept 30, 2017 was ruled out, House members sought a March 31 expiration of the next continuing resolution, while Senate Republicans pushed for one that would last weeks later into Donald Trump’s new presidency. Since the first few months of the Senate’s 2017 calendar will be filled with debate and votes on confirming new appointees to the incoming president’s Cabinet and possibly Trump’s nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, CR’s duration is likely to push through April or May 2017.
3. House Republicans voted on committee chairs for the 115th Congress, while Democrats solved their leadership challenges as they once again selected Rep. Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) as Democratic Leader.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Under the House Republican Conference rules, members vote to ratify nominees for Committee Chairs and will cement the roster of standing committee leaders for the new Congress. That is, at least until House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price is confirmed by the Senate to be President-elect Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Steering Committee is composed of Speaker Paul Ryan and other House Republican leaders, plus 22 representatives of various regional constituencies. In major changes to the Committee Chairs, the Steering Committee nominated NECA allies Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) to lead of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) to helm the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. It also selected Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) to head the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The Steering Committee recommended retaining all other leaders of standing committees.