1. House GOP and Senate Leadership Teams Selected
Senate Republicans made a few tweaks to their leadership team, while Democrats left theirs in place as the upper chamber begins to organize for the 116th Congress. Meanwhile, House Republicans also elected their team after losing their majority to Democrats, who will select their leaders after Thanksgiving.
Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) will remain in his role next Congress, though six-year term limits caused a shuffling among other party leadership. Majority Whip John Cornyn (TX) will step down from his position and John Thune (SD) will take over. John Barrasso (WY) will assume the role of GOP Conference Chair, and Roy Blunt (MO) will move from Vice Chairman of the conference into Barrasso’s prior spot as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Joni Ernst (IA) won election as GOP Conference Vice Chair. Ernst is the first woman on the Senate Republican leadership team in eight years.
The Democratic leadership team all remains in place. Chuck Schumer (NY) will remain Minority Leader, Dick Durbin (IL) remains as Whip, Patty Murray(WA) was re-elected assistant Democratic leader, and Debbie Stabenow (MI) will remain as the chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
With top Republican Paul Ryan retiring, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) was elected Minority Leader for the next Congress. He easily beat back a challenge by Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan (OH). Steve Scalise (LA) was elected to be Minority Whip and Liz Cheney (WY) will be the new House GOP Conference Chair.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she will be the chamber’s next Speaker despite an effort to block her ascension by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who said he’s “100 percent” confident there are enough House members lined up to block her. Either Pelosi will not get the votes to become speaker, or she is about to give Capitol Hill a master class in how to pick away at your political opposition. Either her opponents are right that they have the votes to topple the most powerful woman in Washington, or they will be proven to be more bluster than bite. Both camps can not win in this showdown, and if they are both as set on their intentions as they say, the truth will not be revealed until the final moment: the floor vote for the speakership on January 3, 2019.
2. Judge Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline
Last Week US District Judge Brian Morris blocked the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The legal ruling states that the Trump Administration’s decision to permit the pipeline did not have “sufficient basis”. It has been reported that Judge Morris said the State Department did not properly take into account the effects of global warming, the risk of oil spills and worldwide oil prices.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA has long supported the Keystone XL pipeline project. As this additional delay makes its way through the legal process, NECA will continue to update its members and weigh in on the benefits of the project for key stakeholders.
3. OSHA Publishes Final Rule for Crane Operators Certification Requirements
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published the final rule for Crane Operators Certification Requirements that will become effective on December 10, 2018. The existing rule required certification by crane type and lifting capacity. However, the new rule now clarifies that OSHA will accept crane operator certifications issued by “type” only, or by “type and capacity”. The revised rule still requires that the certification/licensing requirement options that are listed in the standard include third party certification or an audited employer certification program in addition to any local or state operator licensing requirements. Read More »
NECA’s Look Ahead: The Electrical Industry Certification Association (EICA) has developed three crane operator certifications in response to OSHA certification requirements addressing digger derricks, rotating-control telescoping cranes and stationary telescoping cranes. These ANSI accredited certifications meet the certification requirements listed in the original and updated standard. If an employer has not yet conducted the operator evaluation, that employer will have to conduct and document an operator evaluation to fully comply with this new rule. If the Employer has evaluated their operators prior to December 10, 2018, they will not be required to conduct those evaluations again. The evaluation and documentation requirements will become effective on February 7, 2019.