THE DAILY WHIP: THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 2014

For Immediate Release:

March 6, 2014

Contact:

Katie GrantStephanie Young, 202-225-3130

House Meets At: First Vote Predicted: Last Vote Predicted:

9:00 a.m.: Legislative Business

Five “One Minutes”

10:00 – 10:30 a.m. 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

H.Res. 501 – Rule providing for consideration of both H.R. 2641 Regrettably Another Partisan Ideological Distraction” (RAPID) Act (Rep. Marino – Judiciary/Natural Resources)  and H.R. 2824 – Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act (Rep. Johnson (OH) – Natural Resources) (One Hour of Debate). The Rules committee has recommended one Rule which provides for consideration of 2 bills.

For H.R. 2641, the Rules committee has recommended a structured Rule that provides for one hour of general debate equally divided and controlled by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee on Judiciary.  The Rule allows for 5 amendments, debatable for 10 minutes equally divided between the offeror and an opponent. The Rule allows one motion to recommit, with or without instructions, and waives all points of order against the legislation.

For H.R. 2824, the Rules committee has recommended a structured Rule that provides for one hour of general debate equally divided and controlled by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee on Natural Resources.  The Rule allows for 2 amendments, debatable for 10 minutes equally divided between the offeror and an opponent. The Rule allows one motion to recommit, with or without instructions, and waives all points of order against the legislation.

The Rule also allows for Suspension Authority through Thursday, March 6 for legislation relating to loan guarantees for the Ukraine. 

The Rules Committee rejected a motion by Ms. Slaughter of New York to consider both bill under an open Rule. Members are urged to VOTE NO.

Complete Consideration of H.R. 3826 – Electricity Security and Affordability Act (Rep. Whitfield – Energy and Commerce) (One Hour of Debate). This bill would severely limit the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions power plants under the Clean Air Act.

It would prohibit the EPA from promulgating or enforcing any rule establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards under the Clean Air Act for new fossil fuel-fired power plants unless separate GHG emission standards were also established for coal and natural gas plants. It would also reverse decades of precedent and practice, barring the EPA from requiring pollution standards on new coal plants unless such requirements have already been broadly adopted and are being achieved independently by at least six U.S. power plants for 12 continuous months.

Additionally, the bill would repeal all EPA rules issued prior to the enactment of the bill that established GHG emissions standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants, including standards issued on January 8, 2014, that will reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 3% to 5%. These repeals, combined with the restrictions and prohibitions on new rules, would effectively block EPA from ever requiring fossil fuel-fired power plants to control carbon pollution at any significant level.  

The Rule makes in order no further general debate. As of last night, the House completed debate on all amendments. The following amendments have recorded votes pending:

Smith (TX)/Schweikert Amendment. Expands the scope of the bill and requires the EPA Administrator to apply the underlying bill’s requirements for setting emissions standards for new coal-fired power plants to all fossil fuel-fired plants.
Capps/McNerney Amendment. Allows the EPA to consider pollution control technologies being used in the United States or elsewhere when setting new power plant emission standards.
Schakowsky/Lowenthal Amendment. Accepts the scientific finding of the EPA that greenhouse gas pollution is "contributing to long-lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects."
Waxman Amendment. Provides that the bill takes effect when the Administrator of the EIA certifies that another Federal program, other than one under section 111 of the Clean Air Act, will reduce carbon pollution in at least equivalent quantities, with similar timing and from the same sources as would have been required under the rules nullified by the bill.

Bill Text for H.R. 3826:
PDF Version

Background for H.R. 3826:
House Report (HTML Version)
House Report (PDF Version)

H.R. 2641 Regrettably Another Partisan Ideological Distraction” (RAPID) Act (Rep. Marino – Judiciary/Natural Resources) (One Hour of Debate). This bill would amend the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), under the guise of streamlining the process to allow energy projects that are federally-funded or that require federal approval to move along more quickly.  However, what the bill actually does is strip out critical input from federal, state and local agencies, jeopardizing both the environment and public safety.

Under current law, when a project requires a NEPA review, all federal agencies with jurisdiction must conduct a review of the project – this bill would cut that down to one lead agency to conduct the entire assessment.  Further, it would limit the amount of time for a review to 2 years—nearly 18 months less than average assessments take. In cases where multiple agencies are affected, a lead agency would be required to set deadlines for other agency reviews, which, if not met, would be deemed approved after 30 days.  The bill also allows private sector sponsors to prepare their own environmental assessments - creating inherent conflicts of interest that jeopardize the integrity of the decision-making process.

The bill would also greatly narrow the scope of judicial review in the NEPA process.  Civil actions would only be available to parties that participated in the environmental review public comment period and any such action would have to be filed within 180 days of the permit being granted.

Proponents claim this bill will open up the NEPA review process, allowing more construction projects to start and more jobs to be created. However, in reality, the bill creates a complicated one-size-fits-all stance towards the entire NEPA process, muddling requirements for all projects, not just construction – from grazing permits to the safe disposal of nuclear waste.  Lastly, the White House has issued a SAP stating that the President would veto this bill.

The Rule makes in order 5 amendments, debatable for 10 minutes, equally divided between the offeror and an opponent.  The amendments are:

Jackson-Lee Amendment. Strikes language in the underlying bill that would deem permits and licenses approved if an agency does not act within 30 days.
McKinley Amendment. Prohibits federal agencies from considering the "social cost of carbon" in conducting environmental reviews or in environmental decision making.
Webster/Rigell Amendment. Provides for projects that are under environmental review at the time of enactment to be completed within the truncated deadlines that the underlying bill would establish.
Nadler Amendment. Exempts from the bill any construction project for a nuclear facility planned in an area designated as an earthquake fault zone.
Johnson (GA) Amendment. Clarifies that nothing in the bill will change or limit any law or regulation allowing for public comment or participation in an agency decision making process.

Bill Text for H.R. 2641:
PDF Version

Background for H.R. 2641:
House Report (HTML Version)
House Report (PDF Version)

Suspension (1 bill)

  1. H.R. 4152 – To Provide for the Cost of Loan Guarantees for Ukraine (Rep. Rogers (KY) – Appropriations) This bill would make Ukraine eligible for U.S. loan guarantees  through an amendment to a provision in the 2012 Omnibus Appropriations legislation. Under the measure, the State Department could transfer $200 million from Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to Economic Support Funds to guarantee loans to Ukraine. The $200 million is all that is needed to fund $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, and CBO reported the measure does not score.
 
The Daily Quote

“So what’s the Republican plan to turn [the economy] around? The answer is, they don’t all think they need one and those who do can’t agree on a unified view… In their view, fighting Obamacare is so central to their economic message that they’re content to keep the focus there. When Rep. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who’s running a strong race to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, delivered the national GOP weekly address on Feb. 22, it was about Obamacare — with just a quick nod to the lagging economic recovery. And Cotton is hardly an outlier. Of the 21 weekly Republican addresses since October… 12 have been about Obamacare. Just three, in late January and early February, have had a clear focus on the economy and jobs. That’s pretty far out of balance with what voters are calling the top priorities in this election. In February, unemployment ranked as the most important problem facing the country in a Gallup poll, with 23 percent of Americans putting jobs and unemployment at the top of the list.”

-    Politico, 3/5/2014