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Morning Action: Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill Fiasco

SHAHEEN-PORTMAN.  A vote on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill is expected next week.  The Heritage Foundation explains the bill’s many flaws:

Hailed as a kumbaya moment between Democrats and Republicans to help Americans reduce energy use and save money, the federal government’s paternalistic micromanagement of America’s energy choices through regulations and taxpayer-funded “incentives” overrides the preferences of Americans and makes us worse off.

Many of the provisions in Shaheen–Portman are simply not the role of the federal government, and are duplicative of past and present federal and state efforts. Congress should limit the federal government’s role in promoting efficiency to entirely voluntary programs, with no strings attached, and promoting efficiency within the federal government.

OBAMACARE.  Exchange officials are unsure of who among the final Obamacare headcount has actually paid and who the newly insured are:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported Thursday that 8.01 million selected a plan from the federal exchange under the Affordable Care Act. This is the final report for the first enrollment period of Oct. 1 through the March 31 deadline, plus some widely publicized extensions.

“Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before,” outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Although the 45-page enrollment report gives more insight into the gender, age, and financial assistance status of the new “enrollees,” it does not say how many had paid their first month’s premium. The Obama administration also did not disclose how many of the enrollees previously were uninsured.

BENGHAZI.  Attempts by current and former administration officials to obfuscate information about Benghazi continue:

Former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor addressed Fox News Special Report host Bret Baier as “dude” Thursday and said he could hardly remember how he helped change the Benghazi talking points because it was “two years ago.”

The previously unreleased White House emails this week revealed a coordinated attempt to protect President Barack Obama during the 2012 election campaign and place the blame for the terrorist attack on the anti-Islamic YouTube video and not a “broader failure of policy.”

APPROPRIATIONS.  The Senate will begin negotiating individual spending bills as soon as next week (sub. req’d):

The 12 Senate Appropriations subcommittee chairmen could begin writing and negotiating their individual fiscal 2015 spending bills as soon as next week if the panel’s chairwoman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) 5%, can settle on how she wants to divide more than $1 trillion in discretionary spending among the panels.

The Maryland Democrat said Thursday that she aims to finalize her plans for how to carve up the $1.014 trillion in discretionary funding set aside for fiscal 2015 under the December budget deal (PL 113-67) over the weekend.

“It’s still a work in progress. We’re working for it over the weekend,” Mikulski said of the subcommittee spending levels, known as 302(b) allocations.

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