Tuesday in Washington:
The House and the Senate are in recess this week and next. When they return, they are expected to take up a number of gun control measures and begin review of the President’s budget proposal. Last week’s activity in the Senate marked the first time in four years that the Senate has passed a budget and the first time in 92 years that legislative branch has acted before the executive branch had released its proposal. Other potential items for consideration are immigration reform (although it is likely too early to see any real action on this front), cyber security, and perhaps some form of an energy bill.
Although most insiders believe a large tax reform bill is unlikely to during this Congress, both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee staff have been busily working on proposals that could form the basis of a tax reform bill capable of passing both chambers of Congress. Without reconciliation instructions in the budget and no immediate, legislatively imposed fiscal calamity on the horizon, the chances for reform seem limited despite Leadership claims of it being a high priority. If the beginning of the 113th Congress is any guide, Members will not pick up tax reform legislation until they are completely assured that they will be able to bludgeon each other with it.
Other Items of Interest:
US Senator Tim Johnson Expected to Announce His Retirement Today
Rumors surfaced yesterday that US Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) does not intend to run for re-election in 2014. He joins a number of his colleagues who have already announced similar plans, including Sen. Rockefeller, Sen. Chambliss, Sen. Harkin, Sen. Johanns, Sen. Levin, and Sen. Lautenberg. Former two term Governor Mike Rounds (R-SD) had already announced his intension to run for the seat, complicating Democratic efforts to maintain control of the Senate.
EPA Announces Independent Panel to Peer Review Agency’s Hydraulic Fracturing Research
The EPA’s independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) announced the formation of its Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel. This panel of independent experts will peer review EPA’s 2014 draft report of results for its national study on any potential health and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Leading up to the peer review, the SAB panel will provide scientific feedback on EPA’s research in an open and transparent manner. The SAB has identified an independent panel of 31 experts that meet the SAB’s criteria of having the necessary expertise and breadth of experience to adequately review the EPA hydraulic fracturing study on the potential impacts on drinking water resources, and meet long-standing rules regarding financial conflicts of interest. Additional information and a list of the 31 selected experts can be viewed here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/bc39e20974be4ed485257b3900707c0d!OpenDocument
EPA Proposes Adding 255 Waterways to West Virginia’s Impaired Waters List
The EPA provided the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) a proposed list of impaired waterways in the state. The list includes 1,176 waterways previously designated as impaired by the State, and an additional 255 waterways identified by EPA, based on the State’s current water quality standards. EPA took this action in order to meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act requires states to use all readily available water quality information to assess the health of waters, and every two years identify those bodies of water that do not meet water quality standards. Additional information about the announcement and the waterways affected can be reviewed here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/76f07967879c7e6485257b39006bce01!OpenDocument.
New Member of the Day: US Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA)
Committee Assignments: Homeland Security and Judiciary
Chief of Staff: Armstrong Robinson
Legislative Director: Danielle Janowski
After graduating from Notre Dame Law School twenty years ago, Rep. Rothfus and his family moved to Southwestern Pennsylvania. Most of Rep. Rothfus’ professional life has been as an attorney. He left private practice in 1993 to spend four years as associate dean of Regent University’s law school. In 1997 he joined the Pittsburgh firm of Yukevich, Marchetti, Liekar & Zangrill. From 2006 to 2007, Keith worked in the Department of Homeland Security, creating and heading the office that was set up to work with faith-based organizations to provide disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. He is a cancer survivor, an experience that has shaped his views on healthcare innovation. He served on the Zoning Board in Edgeworth, PA, and the Board of Directors of the Veterans Leadership Program (VLP) of Western Pennsylvania.
Rep. Keith Rothfus represents Allegany County, the nexus of energy production from the Marcellus and energy consumption from the manufacturing sector. He ran for the House on a platform of less government regulation against a pro-business democrat Rep. Mark Critz. The race was very close and Rothfus benefitted from the newly redrawn 12th Congressional District including more conservative voters. Outside groups poured about $10 million into the race, the most in any congressional election in the country. Rep. Rothfus supports policies to allow greater development and export of natural gas. He is expected to be a reliable ally for energy production and the benefits such production brings to both individual consumers and manufacturers.
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime. Previous updates and Member profiles can be reviewed here: http://www.mzehrhbw.wordpress.com. Hope you all have a great Tuesday!
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