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Capitol Hill Update, 23 June 2014

Capitol Hill Update, 23 June 2014

House & Senate/Schedule: Both chambers remain in session this week, and both will recess on Friday the 27th and return home for the 4th of July week. Both chambers will return on July 7th.

House/Energy: The House will spend much of Wednesday and Thursday considering three energy-related bills:

  • H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), which would expedite the process of approving oil and natural gas pipelines across our international borders. This bill is obviously aimed at allowing for the Keystone XL pipeline, though it would affect all pipeline proposals more broadly.
  • H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), would expedite the approval of U.S. natural gas exports. The bill is weaker than its initial version, which would have automatically approved all export permits to any World Trade Organization country filed before a certain date.
  • H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel and American that Works Act, sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), which would allow for more oil and natural gas development in Alaska and off both the east and west coasts.

House/Corporate Welfare: On Wednesday at 10 AM, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing examining whether the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States should be renewed or allowed to expire on October 1st of this year. FreedomWorks and a broad coalition of conservative groups has been calling for the House to allow Ex-Im to expire, and incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Sunday that he supports letting the bank expire as well.

House/Financial Services: The house will vote to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, H.R. 4413. The CFTC protects the public from fraud and abuse in financial transactions. It also regulates digital currencies like Bitcoin

Senate/Spending: The Senate will continue to try to find agreement over the “minibus” spending bill that combines the appropriations for Commerce/Science/Justice (CJS), Transportation/Housing & Urban Development (T-HUD), and Agriculture. The legislative “vehicle” into which these bills would be combined would be H.R. 4660, which is the House-passed CJS bill. Republicans continue to insist that they be allowed to vote on amendments to the bill, which Harry Reid has continued to refuse for most bills this year.

Senate/Job Training: The Senate is likely to consider H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act. This bill would extend many federal jobs training programs while eliminating many which are duplicative or ineffective. The Senate will be voting on a substitute amendment to the bill which has been agreed to by the House, which would eliminate 15 existing programs. Since most of these programs have not been funded in recent years, however, the bill reduces agency clutter but does not provide a major savings to the taxpayer.