THE DAILY WHIP: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017

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

10:00 a.m.: Morning Hour
12:00 p.m.: Legislative Business

Fifteen “One Minutes”
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.4:00 – 5:00 p.m. 

H.Res. 392 – Rule providing for consideration of both H.R. 1873 – Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act (Rep. LaMalfa – Natural Resources) and H.R. 1654 – Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act (Rep. McClintock – Natural Resources) (One hour of debate).  The Rules committee has recommended one Rule which provides for consideration of two bills.

For H.R. 1873, 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 provides for consideration of 3 amendments, debatable for 10 minutes, equally controlled by the proponent and opponent of the amendment. The Rule allows one motion to recommit, with or without instructions, and waives all points of order against the legislation.

For H.R. 1654, 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 provides for consideration of 2 amendments, debatable for 10 minutes, equally controlled by the proponent and opponent of the amendment. The Rule allows one motion to recommit, with or without instructions, and waives all points of order against the legislation.  Members are urged to VOTE NO.

H.R. 1873 – Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act (Rep. LaMalfa – Natural Resources) (One hour of debate).  This bill amends the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, which governs the management of our public lands, by creating a voluntary process by which utility companies can submit utility line vegetation management, facility inspection, and operation and maintenance plans for federal lands, while creating a process for review and approval of such plans.  Proponents say this bill is necessary to address wildfire threats caused by overgrown vegetation and dead trees near electricity transmission rights-of-way (ROWs) crossing public lands.  According to the National Interagency Fire Center data, only .03% of forest fires in the past five years have resulted from overgrown vegetation or dead trees near power lines on public lands, and current law already permits federal agencies and utilities to work together on vegetation management plans to reduce this risk.  Utility companies can already perform emergency work on those ROWs without prior authorization from federal agencies. 

H.R. 1873 would also allow state and local “electricity reliability standards” to supersede federal land management laws, which could hinder federal agencies ability to adequately manage public lands.  The bill also legislates a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the vegetation management plans the bill envisions. While the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) already use their categorical exclusion authority for many ROW-related activities, this bill would take away the agencies’ discretion to conduct a more thorough NEPA review in cases where it may be warranted.

The Rule makes in order 3 amendments, debatable for 10 minutes, equally divided between the offeror and an opponent.  The amendments are:

Rep. Carbajal Amendment. Ensures that owners and operators of electric transmission and distribution facilities submit vegetation management plans to the Secretary and that the Secretary has the authority to modify or deny those plans.
Rep. Sinema Amendment. Ensures personnel of the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service involved in vegetation management decisions on transmission and distribution rights-of way receive training on how unmanned technologies can be used to identify vegetation management needs, lower ratepayer energy costs, and reduce the risk of wildfires.
Rep. Beyer Amendment. Prohibits any loss of funds for wild-fire suppression.

Bill Text for H.R. 1873:
PDF Version

Background for H.R. 1873:
House Report (HTML Version)
House Report (PDF Version)

Suspensions (2 bills)

  1. H.R. 2131 – DHS FIRM Act, as amended (Rep. Higgins (LA) – Homeland Security)
  2. H.R. 1282 – DHS Acquisition Review Board Act of 2017, as amended (Rep. Garrett – Homeland Security)

TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK
The GOP Leadership has announced the following schedule for Thursday, June 22: The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.  The House is expected to complete consideration of H.R. 1654 – Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act (Rep. McClintock – Natural Resources).  The House is also expected to begin consideration of H.R. 2842 – Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce (Rep. Curbelo – Ways and Means) (Subject to a Rule).  Lastly, the House is expected to consider H.R. 2353 – Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Rep. Thompson (PA) – Education and the Workforce) – under suspension of the Rules.  

 
The Daily Quote

Then:

“This is a very important issue. You know, we shouldn't try to do [a health care bill] in the dark. And whatever final bill is produced should be available to the American public and to the members of the Senate, certainly, for enough time to come to grips with it… And we are going to insist -- and the American people are going to insist -- that it be done in a transparent, a fair and open way.”

    -     Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), October 2, 2009

Now:

“It has become increasingly apparent in the last few days that even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing a [health care] bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us. It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate. So if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration. I share it wholeheartedly.”

     -      Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), June 20, 2017