Morning Action: Boehner Says Obama’s Unilateral Actions Undermine Trust
IMMIGRATION. Speaker John Boehner says a recent move by President Obama makes it even more difficult to trust him with regard to immigration reform:
President Obama’s new national monument in New Mexico, which he announced Wednesday, thrilled environmentalists, who said it preserves nearly 500,000 acres of spectacular and pristine lands, but it could also doom his hopes of getting Congress to pass an immigration bill this year.
House Speaker John A. Boehner said the president’s unilateral move is exactly the type of action the GOP has been warning against, adding it shows the president isn’t serious about enforcing border security. Mr. Boehner has repeatedly said Republicans are reluctant to trust that the president will take seriously border security and immigration enforcement as part of a “comprehensive” deal that also would include the path to citizenship that Democrats prize.
OBAMACARE. The states are gearing up to release the 2015 Obamacare premium hikes:
States are nailing down dates to release 2015 premium costs under ObamaCare, and their decisions will guarantee a drumbeat of news about rate hikes all the way to the November midterm elections.
Democrats are bracing for grim headlines that could put the unpopular law back at the forefront of voters’ minds.
Premiums are expected to go up in a majority of states, as they do every year, but the size of the increases could go a long way toward determining how much political damage Obama-Care inflicts on vulnerable Democratic lawmakers.
NDAA. Today the House will consider its defense authorization bill, the NDAA. We are key voting in favor of two amendments to the bill. The Lamborn amendment would limit the use of funds for implementing the New START treaty until certification that the Russian Federation is respecting Ukrainian sovereignty and is no longer violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) or the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). The Daines-Cramer-Lamborn-Lummis Amendment #76 would equire that the U.S. keeps intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in warm status past 2021.
WRDA. The water resources bill is likely to pass in the Senate today (sub. req’d):
This should be the final day for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act ( HR 3080 , H Rept 113-449 ), a bill that took more than a year to complete and is the first of its kind in seven years. Pretty much the entire network of supply chain heavyweights lined up to help push for it in the past year, including barge lines and seaports that would be directly affected, grain, coal and chemical bulk shippers on the inland waterways, and manufacturers and retailers who count on export sales or arrival of imported goods through ocean harbors.
It also took some nifty politicking on Capitol Hill to line up lawmakers behind a huge new infrastructure bill when many conservatives are still seething over the federal program expansions through the 2009 stimulus law and other recovery programs.
So the “reforms” that the House bill included in its title (and which the conference adopted) were important to making the sale. Experts on Army Corps of Engineers construction programs say the changes are real, and can take years off the timeline and lots of dollars off the cost of some future navigation and flood projects in this water bill and beyond.
LNG. Lawmakers are considering how a new deal between Russia and China over natural gas shipments will affect U.S. policy (sub. req’d):
Wednesday’s announcement of a $400 billion, 30-year deal to ship natural gas from Russia to China by pipeline adds another wrinkle in the debate over exporting U.S natural gas supplies.
While much of the focus among liquified natural gas export backers in Congress has been on expediting shipments to Europe to counter Russia’s energy influence, Reuters reports the Russia-China deal “opens up an opportunity for Gazprom to become a bigger player in the booming Asian LNG market, a sector it has so far not been involved in on a major scale.” Gazprom is a Russian oil giant.
That raises the prospect of competition for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 35%, who has spent the past two years positioning her state as a major source of natural gas for Asian markets.