Morning Action: Lawmakers Continue Push for Harmful Energy Bill in Senate
ENERGY. The Senate is working on an energy efficiency bill this week that would harm taxpayers and consumers and trying to add amendments to the bill that will bolster support (sub. req’d):
The Senate this week will continue to try to work out an amendment deal that will allow it to pass the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill ( S 2262 ), which has been stalled for nearly three years. The sponsors are Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 2%, and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) 28%.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) 40%, told CQ Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program over the weekend that he expects the chamber will vote Tuesday to move onto the bill, but said its ultimate fate will depend on how open the amendment process is.
Regardless of how the efficiency debate turns out , Hoeven predicted there would still be a vote on approving the Keystone XL pipeline, although he said he still lacks the votes to overcome a filibuster.
Read our key vote against the bill here.
WRDA. A water bill conference report is expected soon in the House and Senate with votes to follow closely after (sub. req’d):
A number of industry sources were expecting House and Senate negotiators to publicly unveil at any time what they’ve been briefed on — a multi-pronged attack on waterway infrastructure problems through the first update of the Water Resources Development Act since 2007. One the conference deal is announced, look for floor votes to soon follow.
he expected legislation also would streamline some Army Corps of Engineers procedures to help speed up project permitting and construction, which was part of a set of changes in both the Senate and House bills. In the House, Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) 53%, emphasized the provisions to expedite project approvals, marketing the bill — his first priority upon assuming the chairmanship last year — as a “reform” measure and rolling it out with an impressive whiteboard video and easy-to-understand graphics.
The Heritage Foundation has laid out reforms that are needed for WRDA and policy mistakes that should be avoided.
HOUSING. Lawmakers are still grappling with how to reform the housing system, and it remains to be seen whether the Senate Banking Committee renews its consideration of housing finance legislation (sub. req’d):
The panel was scheduled to hold a markup last week but recessed immediately after opening statements from Chairman Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), and ranking member Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID) 82%, the authors of the proposal.
Backers of the bill ( S 1217 ) hoped a few days’ delay would allow for tinkering that might bring on additional supporters. A slim majority (12 out of 22 votes) likely exists to approve the bill, but the conventional wisdom is that a more robust outcome, perhaps 15 or 16 ‘aye’ votes, is needed to give it a fighting chance to make it to the Senate floor.
The measure would wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over at least five years and replace them with a system in which private entities could purchase government insurance for mortgage-backed securities. The government backstop would only kick in after a layer of private capital was exhausted.
While the housing system needs reform, the Johnson-Crapo bill is not the answer. It would produce many of the same problems that currently exist. The Heritage Foundation explains winding down Fannie and Freddie and replacing them with a new government agency is not the answer and will harm taxpayers.
OBAMACARE. The Heritage Foundation has outlined several negative predictions about Obamacare that have come true:
Four years ago, many health policy analysts, including those at The Heritage Foundation, predicted some of the effects this law would have on Americans. These are all coming true. Here are nine of our predictions that have come to pass—and it’s not over yet.
BURWELL. It is predicted that the Sylvia Matthews Burwell’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services may encounter GOP roadblocks (sub. req’d):
President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services will begin her confirmation process this week with a hearing before a Senate committee, but it’s the 2010 health care law rather than Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s own credentials that will likely come under the microscope.
Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action for America, noted a long confirmation process could help Republicans from a political standpoint because that would mean more scrutiny of the health care law and opportunities to attack the law. Pinning Burwell down on how she would operate is completely within the boundaries of the confirmation process, he said.
“It’s a completely acceptable role to sort of dig in on how she would run the law going forward,” he said, adding it’s “particularly important given the lack information and communication over the law.”
Holler said he expects to see questions on whether Burwell would continue making the administrative changes that came under current Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as well as about veracity of enrollment numbers in health law insurance exchanges that the administration has reported. Given the change in the Senate rules, he said a situation could also arise where Burwell does not feel compelled to answer questions because she does not need any Republican votes. He added that being candid is what’s “healthy for democracy.”