The Senate will be in session today considering the House passed debt limit extension. Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Senator Kerry’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State by a vote of 94-3, with Kerry voting Present and Senators Cornyn and Cruz voting “no”, siting the Senator Kerry’s liberal positions and support for measures undermining US sovereignty. Sen. Kerry will officially resign from the Senate on Thursday, and Sen. Menendez will take over as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relatiions Committee. The Judiciary Committee will hold a high profile hearing on gun control today featuring both the head of the NRA and the husband of Rep. Giffords.
Other Items of Interest:
Yesterday, API announced the findings of a Coordinated Research Council study on the impacts of E15 on engines and pumping station infrastructure. The study which was greeted by immediate criticism by biofuels proponents is the latest flash point in the dispute over the RFS program. A copy of the study can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/127a2Cb
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved the sale of the non-military assets of A123 including all of the company’s automotive, grid and commercial business assets to Wanxiang, a Chinese company. A123 had received a $249 million grant from the DOE through the ARRA. Of that amount, $133 million had been awarded. The sale has sparked controversy on the Hill despite Wanxiang employing over 3,000 workers in the US.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa of California and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member David Vitter of Louisiana have requested additional information from EPA officials regarding use of outside e-mail accounts to set up meetings with environmental groups engaged in litigation with the EPA. While the e-mail exchanges may not prove to be controversial, the coordinated activity of Issa and Vitter seems indicate a new level of scrutiny and adversarial behavior between the EPA and Congrssional Republicans. A copy of the letter can be viewed at:
Yesterday, Judge Sarah Vance of the US District Court for the Eastern District of LA approved BP’s guilty plea to 14 criminal charges related to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident and the company’s agreement to pay $4 billion in fines and penalties.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested yesterday that increasing taxes on the oil and gas industry could be used to offset sequestration cuts. The proposal sponsored by Senator Menendez last Congress garnered 51 votes, far short of the 60 need for enactment over minority objections in the Senate, however, the focus on eliminating section 199 and modifying IDCs remains concerning for many.
Sec. Ray LaHood will step down from DOT adding yet another cabinet position to be filled. Some have suggested former PA Gov. Ed Rendell may be on the short list of potential replacements.
New(ish) Member of the Day: US Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, and Aging
Chief of Staff: Steve Voeller
Legislative Director: Chandler Morse
Energy LA: Kris Kiefer
Experience: before coming to the Senate, then-Representative Flake served six terms in the US House of Representatives taking a hard-line and often lonely stand against Congressional earmarks. He is a fiscal hawk, but also holds very progressive views on immigration stemming from his youth growing up on a cattle ranch that employed immigrant labor. He also refused to sign the ATR no-tax pledge and actually advocated for a carbon tax as an alternative to the cap and trade bill advanced by House Democrats when they were in the majority. Sen. Flake is Mormon and spent a number of years in Africa in Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa where he learned to speak Afrikaans. From 1992-2000, Senator Flake served as Executive Director of the Goldwater Institute.
Importance: Senator Flake is a fiscal conservative, but has shown a willingness to step out on issues far outside Republican orthodoxy. He is pro-development, pro-business, and supports greater access to federal lands for energy development. With positions on E&R, Foreign Relations, and Judiciary he is in a unique position to assess resource extraction activities particularly those in developing nations of Africa.
If you have any questions, please give me a call anytime. Hope you have a great Wednesday.
Michael D. Zehr
HBW Resources, LLC
1666 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006