Friday, May 1, 2015

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

Photo credit: Jim Havard via Flickr
Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.  Links are provided to the relevant committee web pages, and, where appropriate, to pieces of legislation. Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live, and these should be, as well (follow the appropriate link).

In addition to the Committee activity listed below, the weekly House schedule indicates that the lower chamber may consider H.R. 1732 (the "Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015") this week. That bill would put a halt to the current "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rulemaking process, by directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the proposed WOTUS rule within 30 days, and then consult with state and local officials regarding how to address the Clean Water Act jurisdiction issue within three months.

Also on the schedule for House consideration this week (on Wednesday) is H.R. 2028, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which in part would set spending levels for Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works programs for the 2016 fiscal year (you can see this summary of spending levels for Mississippi River Basin projects and programs). A provision in the bill would prevent the Army Corps from using funds to make or implement any rule or guidance changes to the definition of the Waters of the United States "in effect on October 1, 2012." Another provision of the same spending bill would prohibit the Army Corps from making any "changes to the definition of 'fill material' and 'discharge of fill material' for the purposes of the Clean Water Act."

House-Senate Conference Committee members will continue their quest this week to negotiate a final Fiscal Year 2016 budget resolution that can pass both chambers.  House members have been put on notice that they may be considering a joint Senate-House budget resolution by the end of this week.

All times below are Eastern.  This page will be updated as warranted. 

  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to examine the President's proposed budget request for fiscal year 2016 for the Department of Homeland Security (note: includes FEMA); 9:00 AM, room 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard hearing to examine the resources and priorities of the U.S. Coast Guard; 10:00 AM, room 253 Russell Senate Office Building.
  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management hearing to examine the proper role of judicial review in the federal regulatory process; 10:00 AM, room 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building (the topic of legal challenges to environmental regulations is likely to arise).
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee markup of several bills, including S. 544, the "Secret Science Reform Act of 2015, S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act;  S. 653, Water Resources Research Amendments Act; and S. 611, Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act" 10:00 AM, room 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • House Rules Committee meeting to set the rules for full House debate on H.R. 2028 - Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016; 5:00 PM, room H-312 The Capitol.
  • House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing to "review the National Forest System and active forest management" (exploring the explore the U.S. Forest Service use of farm bill authorities on national forest timber management); 1:30 PM, room 1300 Longworth House Office Building.
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on ""Zero Accountability: The Consequences of Politically Driven Science;" 2:00 PM, room 1334 Longworth House Office Building.
  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Homeland Security hearing to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2016 for the Department of Homeland Security (note: includes FEMA); 2:00 PM, room 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building (general hearing announcement; no individual hearing link available yet).
  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2016 for the Environmental Protection Agency; 2:30 PM, room 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building (general hearing announcement; no individual hearing link available yet).
  • Sen. Inhofe (R-OK), and other Environment Public Works members will hold a press conference on the Waters of the U.S. issue; 10:45 AM EDT, room S-325, U.S. Capitol (and streaming live)
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining hearing to examine the Bureau of Land Management's final rule on hydraulic fracturing; 2:30 PM, room 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing regarding H.R. 1321, the "Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015;" 9:15 AM, room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • NEW - Senate Small Business Committee: field hearing on "How Flood Insurance Rate Increases and Flood Mapping Policy Changes Will Impact Small Businesses and Economic Growth;" 11:00 AM (10:00 AM Central), Homer L. Hitt Alumni and Visitors Center, University of New Orleans, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA

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