1. The House Committee on Government Reform approved the “Government Neutrality in Contracting Act,” on January 12th by voice vote. This bill would essentially bar the federal government from utilizing PLAs on federal construction projects.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA sent a letter to Members of the Committee opposing this legislation. NECA will now press House leadership to keep this bill from being considered by the whole House.
2. Last week, NECA reported that the House Rules Committee said that it would consider a Congressional Review Act resolution against the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. On January 12, the House passed, in a 235-188 vote, a resolution disapproving the rule.
NECA’s Look Ahead: While President Obama has pledged to veto the resolution, Congressional leaders believed it was important to pass the resolution under the Congressional Review Act to show that the legislative branch doesn't approve of the regulation. Furthermore, Speaker Ryan wrote an op-ed for the Omaha World-Herald, detailing how this rule could upend the way water is used across the country.
3. On January 12, 2016, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address. His speech focused on the future of America as he laid out his agenda for the remainder of his term. The address spent less time on defense and economy and more on global leadership and political reform. His agenda includes action on gun control, criminal justice reform, investment in clean energy, and improving the economy through job creation and lower taxes on working families. He urged Congress to take a vote on authorizing the use of military force against ISIS and to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Another topic Obama approached differently this year was Washington itself. Urging Congress to overcome partisan obstructionism has indeed been a mainstay of the president’s earlier addresses. But 2016 was the first year he also spoke directly to the American people, calling on all citizens to be more engaged in public life, and to exercise their right to vote for political leaders that represent their views. In a similarly unprecedented move, Obama also laid a small piece of the blame for Washington’s gridlocked condition on himself. He lamented not being able to better bridge the partisan divide, saying “it’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.”