Neither the House nor the Senate will be conducting votes today with the House in recess and the Senate’s next vote not scheduled till Monday. The Senate resolved its internal dispute over Senate rules and the use of the filibuster by limiting the use of such procedural tactics on motions to proceed to the consideration of legislation and lower level judicial and administration nominees. The agreement does not alter the 60 vote requirement to end debate in the Senate, but could free up necessary floor time to pass less controversial provisions. The Senate is expected to take up the House-passed debt limit extension and the Sandy supplemental next week. The Senate may also take up Senator Kerry’s nomination next week.
Other Items of Interest:
During John Kerry’s nomination hearing yesterday, he was asked repeatedly about the Keystone XL pipeline. While he made a number of comments about supporting energy development broadly, he only indicated that he hoped the decision on the pipeline could be made by the end of March. Last March, Senator Kerry was one of 42 Senators who voted against approving the Keystone pipeline–a bipartisan majority of 56 Senators voted in favor of the amendment, but it did not achieve the 60 votes necessary for passage.
A federal court denied a U.S. EPA request to reconsider its August 2012 decision to throw out the agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).
Rep. Waxman, Sen. Whitehouse, and Rep. Markey announced the creation of a Climate Change Task Force to assist President Obama in addressing the challenges of climate change he highlighted in his inaugural address. The Congressmen announce the task force in a letter to the President urging his support for action. A copy of the letter can be reviewed at the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/bu749zn6kl6t7h1/Climate%20Change%20Task%20Force.pdf
An OIG Audit report of the government funds used to support smart grid demonstration projects found numerous instances where poor oversight of the Program resulted in overpayments or improper reimbursements to the recipients. A copy of the report can be viewed at: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/OAS-RA-13-08.pdf
A bipartisan group of over 100 Members of Congress contacted Sec. Chu supporting LNG exports as a way of creating additional Jobs domestically. A copy of the letter with signatures can be viewed at the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/w1r2wxbxlqi99y8/LNG%20House%20Letter%20Jan%2023.pdf
New Member of the Day: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
Committee Assignments: Natural Resources and House Oversight and Government Reform
Chief of Staff: R. Hunter Ridgeway
Deputy COS: Shane Seaver
Legislative Director: Jeremy Marcus
Experience: Rep. Cartwright has served as an attorney for the last 24 years representing clients on consumer protection and business-related issues such as contracts, predatory lending practices and auditing malpractice. He is an outspoken opponent of the Tea Party and claimed to be from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party during his primary race against Rep. Tim Holden, a moderate Democrat.
Importance: On January 7th, Rep. Cartwright was elected to serve as co-president of this year’s class of Democratic freshmen along with Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas. He has stated that he does not believe that economic development and environmental protection are mutually exclusive, and he has voiced support for increased regulatory oversight of hydraulic fracturing. His stated top priorities are winning increased infrastructure funding and repeal of a 2005 law that stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing–he refers to it regularly as the “Halliburton loophole.” Cartwright has promised to amend the Safe Water Drinking Act to increase disclosure of chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing. His position on the Natural Resources Committee and his legal training along with the highly charged politics surrounding resource extraction in parts of PA put him in a position to be a strong and legitimate advocate for increased environmental regulation of energy production activities.