Friday in Washington:
The House completed its work and will not be in session today. The House passed the Senate CR/mini-bus legislation yesterday and completed work on the House version of the FY 20014 Budget Resolution. The Senate hopes to complete work on its Budget Resolution today, working through long series of votes referred to as a vote-a-rama. The votes will range in topic and there could be as many as four dozen votes if they start early and finish very late tonight. Ironically, this will be the largest amount of vote on any legislative package in the Senate in a few years, and it is on a non-binding resolution that does not have any force of law.
Once completed with the budget resolutions, Congress will now have successfully addressed the fiscal cliff, the debt limit, and a potential government shutdown since Christmas. While the debt limit is expected to rear its head again sometime this summer, Congress appears to be poised to enjoy a two week recess without an immediate financial crisis to address upon reconvening. However, with gun control and immigration reform proposals potentially coming forward, it is unlikely that Members will return to anany less politically charged atmosphere after spending a few weeks back home.
Other Items of Interest:
Sec. Salazar Agrees to Reconsider Road Through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
Following a meeting with Alaska Natives from King Cove, Alaska and in response to concerns raised by the Alaska delegation, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is seeking additional information and has directed additional government-to-government consultation to inform a pending decision concerning the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Land Exchange/Road Corridor as directed under the 2009 Omnibus Land Act. Additional information can be reviewed here: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/secretary-salazar-seeks-additional-information-on-proposed-road-through-alaskas-izembek-national-wildlife-refuge.cfm.
Senator Heitkamp Leads Effort To Resolve Issues Over Tier 3 Standards
Senators Heitkamp, Landreiu, Begich, and Manchin sent a letter to President Obama regarding the proposed Tier 3 gasoline standards that are currently at the OMB. This rule could cost refiners billions of dollars in compliance costs that would be ultimately passed on to the consumer and would hamper U.S. refiners’ global competitiveness. A copy of the announcement and the text of the letter can be viewed here: http://www.heitkamp.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=341129.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Approves Sally Jewell Nomination for DOI
Sen. Wyden allowed about 30 minutes of comments from the Senators before Murkowski called a vote. The final vote was 19-3 in favor of moving the nomination forward. Sally Jewell received strong bipartisan support amongst the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members despite Members expressing concerns with various parochial issues. Western Senators Barrasso, Risch and Heller each raised concerns with potential listing of the sage grouse, and Risch noted that he retains the right to place a hold on a floor vote for Jewell if DOI was suddenly no longer willing to pursue a collaborative conservation plan to prevent listing of the sage grouse. As anticipated, Senator Murkowski raised the issue of King Cove and the proposed road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. She noted that was glad to hear that Sec. Salazar has agreed to take a second look at the issue and include public input before issuing a Record of Decision. Finally, Senator Landrieu mentioned her and Senator Murkowski’s recently introduced revenue-sharing legislation, to which Senator Wyden committed that he would work closely with Senators Landrieu and Murkowski on the revenue-sharing legislation.
Additional information on the meeting can be viewed here: http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/3/to-consider-the-nomination-of-sally-jewell-to-be-the-secretary-of-the-interior.
President Nominates Allison Macfarlane to a new term as chairman of the NRC
Macfarlane, whose term expires on June 30, was chosen to serve a full five-year stint at the NRCHer nomination requires confirmation by the Senate. A geologist and environmental science professor, Macfarlane took over the agency in July after the resignation of Chairman Gregory Jaczko.
National Academy of Sciences Releases Report Highlighting Energy Workforce Challenges
The report finds that as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age, the nation is facing the loss of many experienced energy and mining workers in industry, academia, and the government. At the same time, the current educational system is not producing enough qualified workers to fill current and future jobs, which increasingly require science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. Some innovative solutions are being pursued, but more action is needed if the nation is to maintain a skilled workforce able to supply its energy and mineral needs. Highlights of the study and the complete report can be viewed here: http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Emerging-Workforce-Trends/18250?bname=besr.
House Committee Reviews Challenges and Opportunities Facing Steel Industry
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held a hearing entitled “Our Nation of Builders: The Strength of Steel.” The Committee will heard testimony from: Rep. Tim Murphy, Vice Chairman, Congressional Steel Caucus; Rep. Pete Visclosky, Vice-Chairman, Congressional Steel Caucus; Joe Carrabba, President and CEO, Cliffs Natural Resources; John Ferriola, President and CEO, Nucor Corporation; Richard Harshman, Chairman, President and CEO, Allegheny Technologies, Inc.; Ed Kurasz, Executive Vice President, Allied Tube and Conduit; Mike Rehwinkel, President and CEO, EVRAZ North America; Mike Rippey, President and CEO, Arcelor Mittal USA; John Surma, CEO, United States Steel Corporation; and Yvette Pena Lopes, Deputy Director, BlueGreen Alliance. Numerous panelists referenced the competitive advantage that low cost natural gas is providing the industry and concerns about EPA potentially harming the progress being made to claw back market position from state sponsored competitors mainly in Asia. Additional information about the hearing can be reviewed here:
Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Importance of Increased Mining and Mineral Production
The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing on “America’s Mineral Resources: Creating Mining and Manufacturing Jobs and Securing America,” combined with a legislative hearing on seven mining bills that will create jobs, streamline government red-tape, and make America less dependent on foreign critical and strategic minerals. The subcommittee heard testimony from a number of witnesses who reiterated the importance of the mining industry to American job creation and economic growth. Additional information on the hearing and the legislation considered can be reviewed here: http://naturalresources.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=325102.
New Member of the Day: Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)–Repeat
Committee Assignments: Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure
Chief of Staff: Karl Ahlgren
Legislative Director: Brittnee Preston
Rep. Mullin represents Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District previously held by conservative democrat Rep. Dan Boren, who did not run for re-election. Shortly after Mullin graduated from Stilwell High School, his father fell ill and the family’s small plumbing company encountered financial troubles. Markwayne was only 20 years old but he and his wife, Christie, took over with only six employees. He stabilized the business and diversified into other businesses that now employ over 120 people. Mullin was a highschool and college wrestler and he is a rodeo and mixed martial arts enthusiast as well as an avid hunter. Mullin is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is one of only two Native Americans serving in the House — the other being Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma).
As a small business owner, Rep. Mullin is a fierce proponent of removing government regulations and lowering taxes. As a member of both the Natural Resources Committee and T&I Committee he is in an ideal position to advance the interests of his district which includes crucial ports, mineral deposits, and tribal lands. With an eye on removing government red tape, he is expected to be a reliable advocate for reforming permitting processes on federal lands.
If you have any questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous updates and Member profiles can be reviewed at: http://www.mzehrhbw.wordpress.com. Hope you have a great Friday and a nice weekend!
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