1. On September 21, the Senate Finance Committee approved, 18-8, the Miners Protection Act of 2016 and the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016. The legislation would shore up the United Mine Workers' health and pension plans using money from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund and U.S. Treasury funds. Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last year prevented the bill from getting attached to last December's omnibus spending bill, he is not expected to block it this time around. This is likely to be the last tax markup of the year - and NECA is working with lawmakers to advocate for our priority issues including repealing the Cadillac tax and a provision to extend the Sec. 48 business investment tax credit (ITC) for eligible technologies including fuel cells, combined heat and power, small wind, and geothermal energy.
NECA’s Look Ahead: On September 22, the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), held a hearing to discuss a draft proposal to modernize multiemployer pensions and approve the use of composite plans. Released by Chairman John Kline (R-MN), the proposal is part of the committee’s ongoing effort to strengthen the multiemployer pension system and would provide workers a new option to save for retirement. NECA has been advocating for the use of composite plans to modernize our multiemployer pension system and submitted a statement for the hearing, which was added to the hearing record by Chairman Roe. Lend your support to the Composite Plan proposal and tell Congress to pass this legislation before the end of the year.
2. There are several issues that are preventing the Senate from passing a final deal to stave off a government shutdown at the end of the month, including campaign finance, trucking safety and the internet domain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters the parties were "close" to finalizing an agreement. The biggest hurdles have largely been resolved, with Senators on both sides of the aisle agreeing to support a bill to maintain current government spending through Dec. 9 - and $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus.
NECA’s Look Ahead: With several issues left to consider, the Senate and the House are sure to be in session next week.
3. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) released a committee report highlighting cases he says show problems with how the Army Corps of Engineers regulates wetlands and streams that would be made worse under the NECA-opposed Waters of the U.S. rule. Inhofe sent the report to Members of Congress who previously voted down efforts to repeal the rule, hoping to gain their support this time around with evidence that the EPA has not provided additional clarity or exemptions. "This report should be evidence enough that it's time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to rein in EPA and the Corps," he said in a statement.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Last fall, WOTUS opponents fell three votes shy of the 60 needed to take up their measure to scrap the regulation and place new parameters around which streams and wetlands can be regulated under the Clean Water Act. The rule is currently on hold nationwide while the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals weighs a spate of challenges.