Friday in Washington:
With Good Friday upon us and another week of Congressional recess to go, Capitol Hill is relatively silent this Friday. However, Fridays do tend to be favorites for releasing unpopular rules, and new sulfur standards for gasoline are expected to be released today. Despite the recess, we expect a number of Members to actively oppose the new rule, citing the costs vs. benefits.
While the Senate plans to attempt to take up gun control measures when they return, impacts of the sequester on royalty payments to states, on Secure Rural Schools funding from forest revenues, and the new EPA rule could lead to long amendment standoffs and increased rancor in the Chambers.
Other Items of Interest:
GAO Report Finds Duplication in Wind Energy Initiatives
The Government Accountability Office identified significant duplication among the 82 different federal initiatives subsidizing wind energy. The initiatives incurred about $4 billion of federal support—$2.9 billion in wind-related spending obligations and $1.1 billion in wind-related tax subsidies. Almost half of the initiatives (39 of 82) have been launched since 2009, and most (68 of 82) overlapped with at least one other initiative. A copy of the full report can be viewed here: http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/GAO-13-136%2C%20Wind%20Energy%20-%20Additional%20Actions%20Could%20Help%20Ensure%20Effective%20Use%20of%20Federal%20Financial%20Support_0.pdf.
EPA Expected to Release Rule Lowering Sulfur Content in Gasoline
Today, EPA will propose a rule to cut the amount of sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds, to 10 parts per million from 30. Once the Proposed rule is released, the EPA will spend the rest of the year analyzing input from public and stakeholders. Refiners will have to comply with the rule by 2017. The rule had been stalled since 2011. According to the Washington Post report, the agency surveyed 111 U.S. refineries and found 29 already can meet the sulfur standard or come close to it, 66 can reach it with modest modifications and 16 would require a major overhaul. The Washington Post article on the release of the rule can be viewed here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-administration-moves-ahead-with-sweeping-rules-requiring-cleaner-gasoline/2013/03/28/4ea2e01c-97cd-11e2-814b-063623d80a60_story.html
Vitter, Senators Ask McCarthy for Clarity on NYU Litigation Threat
Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) wrote to Gina McCarthy, nominee to head the EPA, regarding the intent of Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law (Institute) to initiate litigation as an attempt to force a cap-and-trade system on the transportation fuels sector. In 2009, the Institute petitioned EPA to initiate a rulemaking under the Clean Air Act, within 90 days of issuing the proposal, to propose and adopt regulations instituting a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions from fuels used in motor vehicles, nonroad vehicles, and aircraft. Last November, the Institute notified EPA of its intention to file suit under the Clean Air Act for the Agency’s failure to respond to its original petition for rulemaking. A copy of the letter can be viewed here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=dc6c35d0-9e12-4eb3-a3b8-e9fd029c40ae
Senate Finance Committee Tax Reform Options Paper
In preparation for larger discussions on tax reform this Congress, Chairman Baucus and Sen. Hatch, the Ranking Member of the Committee have begun a process of releasing options papers laying out various tax reforms that could be included in Committee bill. The first of these options papers was released on March 21st. A copy of this paper can be viewed here: http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/032113%20Tax%20Administration%20Options%20Paper%20for%20Member%20Meeting%20.pdf
Committee Assignments: Armed Services and Veterans Affairs
Chief of Staff: Derek Harley
Legislative Director: Lisa Collins
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rep. Wenstrup graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1980. He went on to earn a medical degree as a podiatric surgeon and later established a private practice in Cincinnati and has treated patients for more than 24 years. In 1998, at age 39, he joined the Army Reserves and wound up serving a tour as a combat surgeon in Iraq. He continues to serve in the Reserves where he has earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Cincinnati in 2010 before defeating incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) in the primary.
Rep. Wenstrup is a doctor, small business owner, and a combat veteran. He is both a social and a fiscal conservative. He came to Congress with the backing of the Tea Party and won his seat after defeating the sitting Republican incumbent. The race focused on the incumbent’s support of raising the debt limit and apparent efforts to secure an aisle seat to say hello to the President during a State of the Union address. Rep. Wenstrup believes he was elected to help dismantle the current health reform law and oppose the President. As a doctor from a swing state with conservative backers, he can serve as a good barometer for where many Members in his class and the class before him will come down on specific issues.
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 good Friday and a Happy Easter!
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