1. The Senate voted on November 17 to overturn President Obama's carbon dioxide limits for power plants, a central component of President Obama’s climate change agenda. In a pair of votes, the Senate passed resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to strike down both EPA’s Greenhouse Gas rule for new and modified power plants, and its rule for existing power plants (aka: “Clean Power Plan”). Both resolutions passed on largely party-line votes of 52-46. Three Democrats, Sens. Manchin (WV), Donnelly (IN), and Heitkamp (ND), voted in favor of the resolutions and three Republicans voted in opposition of the resolutions, Sens. Ayotte (NH), Kirk (IL), and Collins (ME). Prior to the votes, NECA, as a coalition member of the Partnership for a Better Energy Future submitted a letter of support for both resolutions to all Senate offices.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The House Energy and Commerce Committee this week advanced two resolutions to block the EPA greenhouse gas controls for power plants. The committee voted 28-21 along party lines to approve two resolutions sponsored by Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). The full House is expected to take up the measure after Thanksgiving break.
2. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the new Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced the selection of new subcommittee chairs and subcommittee assignments for Republican Members of the committee. The new assignments were necessitated by the election of former committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as Speaker of the House, Brady’s selection to follow him as committee chair, and the selection of Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC) to fill the vacancy on the committee.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) will take over the health panel gavel, which includes Medicare, Medicaid, drug prices and efforts to roll back elements of the health care bill. With Tiberi's move, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) confirmed he would move over to take the top slot on the Trade Subcommittee. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) will take the top slot on the newly renamed Tax Policy Subcommittee, replacing Reichert. Lastly, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) will take over as the top Republican on the Human Resources Subcommittee, replacing Boustany. In a written statement, Chairman Brady said he hoped to expedite action on a number of GOP fiscal priorities, including “real steps” towards a tax overhaul, an “ambitious trade agenda” and a number of health care initiatives.
3. On November 16, a two-week extension for the federal highway and transit programs through December 4, 2015 was introduced in the House to give the House and Senate conferees enough time to complete negotiations and produce a final measure. The House and Senate both passed the extension before the November 20 deadline. As a member of the Transportation Construction Coalition, NECA signed a letter outlining priorities for the Conferees.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA expects a deal to surface in the coming days that will authorize the program for 5 years at higher funding levels. This would be a huge win for our industry and will spur transportation construction projects across the country.