1. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act unanimously on October 22. The bill authorizes federal-aid highway programs and public transportation for six years at current spending levels, with three years of guaranteed funding. NECA sent a letter to Committee leaders thanking them for advancing a multi-year measure, while expressing disappointment for the proposed funding levels. NECA also signed onto a Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) letter to the panel.
NECA’s Look Ahead: This legislation is expected to pass the House in the coming weeks, at which point a conference committee will convene to reconcile differences between the House and Senate proposals. Both Chambers will also act on a short-term stopgap to prevent a lapse in spending authority before current law expires on October 29. NECA will ask conferees to increase investment levels in the final product above the $325 billion proposed in the House bill.
2. Rep. Paul Ryan announced this week that he would run for Speaker of the House if certain conditions were met, including endorsements from all Republican caucuses, a change in House rules to make it more difficult to oust a Speaker, and a lighter travel schedule.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Rep. Paul Ryan received support from all major factions within the Republican Conference, including a super-majority of the far right Freedom Caucus on October 21. Subsequently, he announced that he will move forward with his bid. Speaker Boehner announced that the Conference will nominate Chairman Ryan as their candidate for Speaker on October 28, with the final vote on the House floor taking place on October 29.
3. The Obama administration formally published the EPA's climate rule for power plants in The Federal Register on October 23. The Clean Power Plan, covering existing power plants, is available here. The rule for new, modified and reconstructed power plants is here. And the proposed federal implementation plan, set for finalization next year, is available here.
NECA’s Look Ahead: This development now opens the opportunity for interested parties to sue over the new regulation. Since the Obama administration finalized the Clean Power Plan in August, states, utilities and industry groups have been gearing up to sue over the rule. It is widely expected that court arguments will center over the intent of the Clean Air Act, that the law was never intended to be used to create a new regulatory regime governing how our nation produces energy.