Both the House and Senate are in recess this week, but with ten days to go before the sequester takes place, the politics of assigning blame are becoming palpable in DC. Republicans are now claiming that the sequester was Obama’s idea, while the President is hosting press conferences with firefighters to point out the potential loss of first responder services if the recalcitrant Republicans don’t stop protecting rich people. If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone.
Add to the morass, the Simpson-Bowles partnership has once again offered painful solutions to the country’s mounting fiscal woes, although this time is without the President’s, at least initial, encouragement. Their new plan can be reviewed here: http://momentoftruthproject.org/publications/bipartisan-path-forward-securing-americas-future. Chances of adoption are not in the ballpark of possible.
Other Items of Interest:
Historic opportunity vs. Amateur Hour– Sen. Johanns’ retirement has led some researchers to look into the last time so many Senators have called it quits. Since 2010, 24 Senator have left early. Between 1992 and 1996, 27 Senators left. If just four more Senators decide not to run, this will be the largest Senate turnover in 40 years. Other potential retirements include Tim Johnson, Thad Cochran, Mike Enzi, Jim Inhofe, and Carl Levin.
The EPA is moving forward with a plan to force 36 states to strike rules that suspend emissions standards for pollution sources during startup, shutdown and malfunction periods. The decision is the result of a 2011 consent decree reached in response to a petition by the Sierra Club. A plan can be reviewed here: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201210&RIN=2060-AR68
The USFWS will issue a rule determining the appropriate use of the ESA in regulating losses of Polar Bears resulting from GHG emissions. The rule states that activities outside the bear’s range are not subject to ESA “incidental take” prohibitions. A copy of the rule can be reviewed here: http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2013-03136_PI.pdf
A group of anti- development groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity has reached out to the Obama Administration to express their priorities for ESA enforcement during the President’s second term. a copy of the letter can be reviewed here: Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kcsrrejgevigpvq/CBD%20wish%20list%20.pdf
The U.S. Forest Service released a set of proposed directives to help shape planning for the 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, encompassing 193 million acres. The directives take the form of elements in the Forest Service Manual and the Forest Service Handbook. The service said a notice of availability on the proposed directives will be published in theFederal Register on or about Feb. 20, after which there will be a 60-day public comment period. The proposed directives on national forests and national grasslands are available here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/planningrule/directives
BP won approval of an agreement for the U.S. government to not count 810,000 barrels of oil captured before they became part of the Gulf of Mexico spill, reducing the potential fine under the Clean Water Act by $3.4 billion.
The EPA Inspector General issued a report identifying lack of funding and personnel as a key threat to appropriately carrying out the National Contingency Plan, which serves as the blueprint for the federal government to respond to emergency releases of oil and other hazardous substances. The Oil Pollution Act requires national contingency planning at the national, regional, and area levels, according to the report.The EPA IG report can be reviewed here: http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2013/20130215-13-P-0152.pdf.
5 Energy Policy Solutions to Grow the Economy: http://www.humanevents.com/2013/02/19/5-energy-policy-solutions-to-grow-economy/?niReferrerLink=Topical%20Search%20Result%20Clicked%3A%20Human%20Events%3A%205%20energy%20policy%20solutions%20to%20grow%20economy
Committee Assignments: Foreign Affairs and Transportation & Infrastructure
Chief of Staff: Jason Moon
Legislative Director: Abigail Dosoretz
Experience: Before coming to Congress, Rep. Radel hosted a conservative TV and radio show on a local Fox affiliate in FL. He is tri-lingual and ran a media relations company focused on advancing conservative causes. He and his wife launched US Forces Fund, a nonprofit focused on helping injured soldiers returning home from abroad. He also bought, reformatted, and expanded the Naples Journal, a community newspaper in Collier County. When he was younger, he worked in his family’s funeral parlor driving the hearse and hosting visitation services, an experience that instilled a sense of empathy and compassion.
Importance: Rep. Radel won a 5 way primary with just 30 percent of the vote topping Rep. Porter Goss’s son for the nomination. He went on to win the solidly-Republican SW FL district by 26 points in the general election. He is a solidly conservative Member and is expected to be a reliable vote for Republican leadership. He has stated that he is in favor of removing tax preferences to simplify the code, even specifically mentioning such popular deductions as the mortgage interest deduction as a potential target for reform. With a safe district and a knack for media relations, Rep. Radel is well positioned to cut staunchly conservative path during his first term. With seats on Foreign Relations and T&I, it will be interesting to see his balance addressing the infrastructure needs of his district with the campaign rhetoric of restricting and cutting government.
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 Wednesday!
Michael D. Zehr
HBW Resources, LLC
1666 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006