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Capitol Hill Update, 20 July, 2015
House & Senate/Schedule: Both House and Senate are in town this week. The House will recess at the end of next week (30 July) for the long August recess, while the Senate will recess on 7 August.
Senate/Transportation: The Senate will spend much of the next week or two debating a bill to fund expiring funding for federal highway and transportation infrastructure. Although the House passed a short-term reauthorization last week, the Senate still appears to be looking to pass a longer-term bill. But the Highway Trust Fund is operating at a deficit, and it remains unclear how the Senate plans to offset that spending. A better alternative to the inefficient federal Highway Trust Fund would be to devolve highway funding to the states, as Senator Mike Lee would do in his Transportation Empowerment Act, S. 1541.
Senate/Corporate Welfare: Although the U.S. Export-Import Bank was allowed to expire at the end of June, many Members of Congress still feel the pressure from lobbyists to resurrect that corporate welfare program. They may attempt to attach Ex-Im as a rider on a “must-pass” piece of legislation, such as the highway funding bill mentioned above. FreedomWorks has issued a Key Vote: NO against any vote to reauthorize Ex-Im – and this includes any bill such as the highway bill to which Ex-Im has been attached.
House/Energy: The House will vote this week on H.R. 1734, the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act. This bill would return at least some more authority back to the states to make their own regulations on the use and disposal of coal byproducts such as ash.