September 10, 2012

THE WEEK AHEAD

Legislative Focus:  Legislative Focus: Continuing Resolution, FISA Extension, Veterans Job Corps 

Congress returns from a five-week break today for a brief but busy session before recessing again for campaign season in early October. Both the House and Senate this week are expected to work on a stopgap spending measure this month, as well as a number of other “must-do” bills including drought relief, tax extenders, Cybersecurity and Russia trade relations.

The House conveneD at 2:00 p.m. today to take up 11 measures under suspension of the rules. Tuesday, and for the balance of the week, the House is set to 21 measures under suspension of the rules and five measures subject to a rule.

House leadership is expected to bring a continuing resolution to the floor this week that would fund most federal programs through March 31. Under a deal reached prior to the August recess, the bill is expected to reflect provisions in the Budget Control Act, with a funding level at $1.047 trillion. However, the agreement only addressed the overall funding amount and length of the extension; exact program funding levels and other details have yet to be worked out. Senate staff have indicated that, based on the Congressional schedule, House and Senate leadership must work out the details of the bill by September 14 for the House to approve the bill next week and send it to the Senate for consideration by the September 30 deadline.

The House is also set to debate 33 measures under suspension of the rules, which are expected to take up the first half of the week. Among the measures is the SAFE WEB Act (H.R. 6131), which would extend spam and spyware control regulations and allow the Federal Trade Commission to share cross-border fraud information with foreign consumer protection agencies; a bill to create an electronic tracking system to track hazardous waste shipments (S. 710); and a federal campaign finance measure (H.R. 406). The House may take up legislation (H.R. 5949) to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act for five years. The statue is slated to expire at the end of this year. 

The Senate convened at 2:00 p.m. today with roll call votes expected on a judicial nomination. Tuesday, and for the remainder of the week, the Senate is expected to consider a veterans’ jobs bill.

The Senate will begin the week considering the nomination of Stephanie Marie Rose to be a U.S. district court judge for the Southern District of Iowa. Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to hold a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to a bill (S. 3457) that would direct the secretary of veterans affairs to create a veterans job corps. 

Action on many other items is likely to be postponed until the lame-duck session, including a farm bill and legislation to reform the U.S. Postal Service, as well as decisions to address the “fiscal cliff”.



KEY HEARINGS & MARKUPS

Armed Services: The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “Framework for Capacity Building Programs and Authorities to Meet 21st Century Challenges.” 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2118.

The Military Personnel Subcommittee of House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the Federal Voting Assistance Program which was established to make absentee voting easier for military personnel, their families and other U.S. citizens living abroad. 
Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:30 a.m., Rayburn 2212.

Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs:  The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the semi-annual report to Congress of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 
Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 538.

Education & the Workforce
The Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee of House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a joint hearing titled “Expanding the Power of Big Labor: The NLRB’s (National Labor Relations Board) Growing Intrusion into Higher Education. 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 10:00a.m., Rayburn 2175.

Energy & Commerce:  The Environment and the Economy Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program: A Progress Report.” 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2322.

The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “Where the Jobs Are” focusing on efforts to overcome obstacles to job growth and promote opportunities for job creation. 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 9:45 a.m., Rayburn 2322.

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Department of Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Weapons Complex: Challenges to Safety, Security and Taxpayer Stewardship.” The hearing will focus on a range of management and administrative challenges confronting DOE, including a recent security breakdown at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2123.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “The American Energy Initiative.” 
Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2322.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “The American Energy Initiative”: 
Friday, September 14, 2012 at 9:45 a.m., Rayburn 2123.

Energy & Natural Resources:  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on pending legislation: S. 3469, a bill to establish a new organization to manage nuclear waste, provide a consensual process for siting nuclear facilities, ensure adequate funding for managing nuclear waste, and for other purposes. 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 9:30 a.m., Dirksen 366.

Environment & Public Works:  The Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee and the full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a joint oversight hearing titled “NRC’s (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) Implementation of Recommendations for Enhancing Nuclear Reactor Safety in the 21st Century. 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 406.

Financial Services:  The TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs Subcommittee of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee of House Financial Services Committee will hold a joint hearing titled “The JOBS Act (PL 112-106): Importance of Prompt Implementation for Entrepreneurs, Capital Formation, and Job Creation.” 
Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2154.

The Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee of House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “Housing for Hero’s: Examining How Federal Programs Can Better Serve Veterans,” focusing on barriers that homeless and low-income veterans face in securing housing assistance and services from federal agencies. 
Friday, September 14, 2012 at 9:30 a.m., Rayburn 2128.

Health, Education, Labor & Pensions:  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing titled “Improving College Affordability: A View From the States.” 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 10:30 a.m., Dirksen 430.

Homeland Security:  The Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee of House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “Eleven Years Later: Preventing Terrorists from Coming to America.” 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Cannon 311.

The Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee of House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “Resilient Communications: Current Challenges and Future Advancements.” 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 2:00 p.m., Cannon 311.

The Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee of House Homeland Security Committee will hold a joint hearing titled “Bio- Watch Present and Future: Meeting Mission Needs for Effective Biosurveillance?” 
Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 2:00 p.m., Cannon 311.

Special Aging:  The Senate Special Aging Committee will hold a roundtable discussion titled “Let the Sunshine in: Implementing the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.” 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 2:30 p.m., Dirksen 562.

Transportation & Infrastructure:  The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing titled “Tenth Anniversary of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (PL 107-295): Are We Safer?” 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2212.

Ways and Means:  The Oversight Subcommittee of House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the implementation and administration by the IRS of the tax provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (PL 111-152), including the individual mandate taxes, restrictions on the use of Flexible Spending Arrangements and Health Savings Accounts. 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Longworth 1100.

The Health Subcommittee of House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the implementation of health insurance exchanges and related provisions of the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (PL 111-152). 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Longworth 1100.


NTIA ISSUES GUIDANCE FOR STATES AND LOCAL IMPLEMENTATION GRANT PROGRAM

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced requirements for the State and Local Implementation Grant Program authorized by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The act requires NTIA to establish a $135 million grant program to assist state, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions in the development and implementation of a nationwide public safety broadband network. 

NTIA intends to design the State and Local Implementation Grant Program as a formula-based matching program (statutory match of 20 percent) and is expected to release a Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) in the first quarter of calendar year 2013. The FFO will include the amount of funding available and how it will be allocated. States will be given the flexibility to decide the individual or governing body that should serve as the point of contact for coordinating grant funds within the state. 

Grant recipients will also be required to demonstrate that they have established a governance structure, instituted procedures ensuring adequate state and local representation and identified potential public safety users of the broadband network. Over the next several months, NTIA will continue to consult with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Board of Directors as the FFO for the State and Local Implementation Grant Program is developed. More information on the requirements announced by NTIA can be found here.



WHITE HOUSE RELEASES NEW MILEAGE STANDARDS
 
The White House finalized new mileage standards for cars and trucks and established a 54.5 mile per gallon (mpg) fleetwide average standard by model year 2025. The standards, which apply to cars and trucks produced between model years 2017 and 2025, will also require reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The rules follow already-released standards for model years 2012-2016 that require 35.5 mpg by 2016.



FEDERAL APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS CROSS STATE AIR POLLUTION RULE

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (“CSAPR”), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air pollution rule for emissions that cross state lines. The court ruled 2-1, in EME Homer City Generation, L.P v. EPA, that EPA exceeded its statutory authority with the rule. 

The court threw out the rule on two grounds; first, that CSAPR may require upwind states to reduce more than just their “significant contributions” to air pollution in other states, which would exceed the authority granted in the so-called “good neighbor” provisions of the Clean Air Act, and second, that CSAPR does not afford states first opportunity to implement state plans to meet federal standards for cross state air pollution, in violation of the federalism principles embodied in the Clean Air Act. 

The court vacated CSAPR, the related Federal Implementation Plans, and ordered EPA to continue implementing the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule until EPA promulgates a valid replacement.



ADMINISTRATION RELEASES UNUSED TRANSPORTATION FUNDS FOR STATES
 
The Administration last month announced that it would make available to states $473 million in unspent surface transportation earmark funds from FY2003-2006 appropriations acts. Those acts contain provisions that authorize the release of unused funds for eligible highway, transit, passenger rail or port projects. States must identify the projects they plan to use the funds for by October 1 and must obligate them by December 31, 2012. Funds not obligated by the December 31 deadline will be proportionally redistributed in FY 2013 to states that met the deadline. Nevada is eligible for $673,000.  A list of funds by state is available here


CMS ISSUES FINAL EXCHANGE BLUEPRINT

Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final Exchange Blueprint for approval of state-based and partnership exchanges. A state may use the Exchange Blueprint to demonstrate how it will offer health insurance through its exchange. Exchange Blueprints should be submitted to CMS by November 16, 2012 to be considered for certification on January 1, 2013. The final Exchange Blueprint is available here