Both the House and the Senate are in recess this week, so activity on Capitol Hill is at a minimum. The announcement of Senator Johanns’ retirement caught many off-guard, bringing the number to five of Senators not seeking re-election (Rockefeller, Chambliss, Harkin, Lautenberg, and now Johanns). The early favorite to replace Johanns is the current Governor Dave Heineman (R-NE), but there are a number of other candidates apparently considering a run including the State AG Jon Bruning, the State Treasurer Don Stenberg, Rep. Fortenberry, Rep. Lee Terry, Rep. Adrian Smith, and Pete Ricketts.
Discussions continue on potential paths to avoid the automatic sequestration, but the conversations have increasingly turned towards speculation on how the blame will be assigned one cuts in government services occur…not a promising sign for legislative progress.
Other discussions involve the potential for tax reform legislation. The White House has signaled that it will not consider additional spending cuts without additional revenues on the table, but many House Members have stated that the tax increases already imposed are as far as this Congress is likely to go. The new Ways and Means working groups clearly have their work cut out for them as they attempt to assemble a tax reform package capable of passing both chambers.
Other Items of Interest:
Gas prices have risen for 32 days straight, according to AAA, meaning that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has increased more than 13% over that period to $3.73. The average US household spent over $2,900 on gas last year marking the highest percentage since 2008 and equalling the highest levels in 30 years. The CNN report on the price increases can be viewed here: http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/17/news/economy/gas-prices/index.html?niReferrerLink=Topical%20Search%20Result%20Clicked%3A%20CNN%3A%2032%20days%20of%20higher%20gas%20prices%20comes%20at%20tough%20time
The EU has imposed a five-year tariff on U.S. bioethanol to curb competition for German, French, British and other EU producers. The duty of 62.30 euros ($83.20) a metric ton punishes U.S. exporters of bioethanol for dumping. The levy follows existing EU anti-dumping duties on imports from the U.S. of biodiesel.
U.S. Energy Information Administration chief Adam Sieminski will offer his outlook for the U.S. energy market in a speech during dinner Tuesday at a U.S. Department of Agriculture forum in Crystal City, Virginia. Siemenski’s agency has said increasing production of oil, gas and renewable fuels will reduce the share of net imports in total U.S. energy consumption to 9 percent by 2040 from 19 percent in 2011.
At 11AM today, the National Association of Manufacturers will hold a roundtable discussion on recent developments regarding the Keystone XL pipeline and the best path forward. The roundtable will be moderated by Matthew Koch, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.
New Member of the Day: US Senator Mazie Hirono
Chief of Staff: Betsy Lin
Deputy COS: Susan Michels
Legislative Director: Jeffery Phantom
Experience: Sen. Hirono was born in Fukushima, Japan, November 3, 1947; graduated from Kaimuki High School, Honolulu, Hawaii; B.A., University of Hawaii, Manoa, Hawaii, 1970; J.D., Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 1978; lawyer, private practice; member of the Hawaii state house of representatives, 1981-1994; Hawaii lieutenant governor, 1994-2002; elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat to the One Hundred Tenth and to the two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 2007-present); was not a candidate for reelection to the House of Representatives but was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 2012 for the term ending January 3, 2019. She is the first woman to represent Hawaii in the Senate and the chamber’s first Buddhist member.
Importance: Because of the importance of air travel to Hawaii, Sen. Hirono has taken an active role on policies affecting the cost and availability of passenger flights, particularly those affecting rural areas. She has also supported streamlining visa restrictions to promote tourism from Asia. The state has the highest energy costs in the US and electricity is supplied primarily by fuel oil. while the state is aggressively pursuing alternative energy programs, the state still remains uniquely impacted by the global crude market. Additionally, the closure of the state’s largest refinery threatens to raise fuel cost for airlines, potentially hindering tourism. Sen. Hirono is a very progressive member and will be a reliable vote for Democrats in the Senate, but her state’s reliance on imported fuels could lead to some more moderate stances on certain fuels issues if they are tied directly to air travel and tourism.
Previous updates and New Member profiles can be viewed at: http://www.mzehrhbw.wordpress.com
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime. Hope you all have a great Tuesday!
Michael D. Zehr
HBW Resources, LLC
1666 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006