With Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) confirmation February 6 to be the next Ambassador to China, the committee leadership shuffle begins. In advance of the moves, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are beginning to outline their agendas as they prepare to lead the Senate Finance and Energy committees, respectively. Senator Wyden announced last week that he would focus on tax extenders as a catalyst into comprehensive tax reform. Senator Landrieu, a domestic energy development advocate, said that the turnover is likely to be settled during the Senate Democratic Caucus weekly meeting February 11, and that she looks forward to working with members of the committee for several weeks before finalizing her agenda. The senator has been a vocal supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, for lifting the crude oil export ban, for building liquefied natural gas export terminals, and for moving quickly on permitting energy infrastructure projects in general. Senator Landrieu will relinquish her current chairmanship of the Small Business Committee in the move, and is looking forward to working with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who will remain as the Energy Committee’s ranking member.
In other news, the Senate approved February 4 the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642), sending the farm bill to the president for signature. The five-year reauthorization includes an energy title that protects programs on conservation, biofuels, and forestry.
The Senate will resume work on a military cost-of-living benefits bill (S. 1963) this week, while the House will focus on consumer protection bureau legislation (H.R. 3191) and potentially consider a measure to extend the debt limit.