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Capitol Hill Update, 29 February, 2016
Both the House and Senate are in session this week. The House will recess next week, while the Senate will remain in session.
The House budget process remains in limbo as conservatives and Republican leadership attempt to reach a deal on spending levels. House conservatives are seeking about $30 billion in spending reductions, which would return spending to roughly what they would have been before Speaker Boehner’s awful spending deal last year with President Obama . Budget Committee action on producing a spending framework has been postponed several times while negotiations continue.
On Thursday, the House will consider H.R. 4557, the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns (BRICK) Act. Introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-6), this bill would stop an Environmental Protection Agency regulation on emissions from brick and tile kilns. Unless the regulation is halted, it will put many brick and tile manufacturers out of business.
The Senate is considering a deal to lend potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to Flint and other localities affected by lead contamination in the water supply. A massive federal bailout of Flint is likely to encourage other localities that have similar infrastructure crises to demand federal intervention. The Flint issue was caused by gross mismanagement by the state and local governments in Michigan, and ought to be addressed at that level of government as well.
Senate Democrats are demanding the Flint bailout in return for their support of S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). As we’ve previously noted, S. 2012 is a bill that tinkers with the federal bureaucracy rather than reining it in. In some cases, it actually expands federal meddling in the energy economy, and even makes permanent a federal fund for buying up more private lands. FreedomWorks remains opposed to the bill.
Last week, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Restoring Internet Freedom Act, S. 2602. This bill would force the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to withdraw its “net neutrality” rule that allowed them to regulate Internet access services as public utilities. FreedomWorks has adamantly opposed this FCC overreach, and supports Senator Lee’s bill.