1. After a long eight-week recess, Congress is set to return to Capitol Hill on September 6 to battle over several key issues, including finding a way to fund the Federal government past September 30 of this year.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Several funding bills are on the table, including those to combat the Zika virus, fund the Department of Defense, and a temporary measure to keep the government funded into early 2017. Additional NECA priorities are set for action, including the Energy Policy Modernization Act, and the Water Resources Development Act. The bigger challenge for Republican leaders is that House conservatives want a spending bill that goes well into 2017 so as to avoid a “lame-duck” session of Congress after the election. Realistically, Congress does not face many of the same deadlines it has in previous Fall work periods because Speaker Ryan and other Congressional leaders made a conscious effort in 2015 to “clear the decks” ahead of the election year.
2. After several weeks of internal discussions between House and Senate staff, lead negotiators on a NECA-supported sweeping energy policy bill will hold their first public meeting September 8.
NECA Look Ahead: Since this will be the first conference committee meeting on the legislation, the meeting is likely to include only opening statements. A final agreement on the bill is still going to be a challenge given that the House version of the bill has several controversial provisions, and the fact there is a narrow legislative window in a contentious election year.
3. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Chair Ed Whitfield (R-KY) announced August 31 that he will resign from Congress, effective September 6. Rep. Whitfield made the announcement in a letter to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) approximately one year after he decided to retire in the face of a House investigation into ethics violations.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Gov. Bevin will call a special election to be held the same day as the November 8 general election. Republican James Comer and Democrat Sam Gaskins are running for the seat.