Two weeks ago, many had expected the House and Senate to consider spending and foreign relations issues last week. Instead, the House pushed back consideration of the continuing resolution to this week while the Senate postponed consideration of Syria. The Senate took up what it was originally set to consider: Shaheen-Portman. On Tuesday, the Senate began considering S. 1392, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. The same day, the White House released a statement of administration policy in support of the bill. Members had agreed to not introduce amendments related to Syria, but non-germane amendments have been introduced, including six Republican amendments, such as one by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), to alter or end the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced an amendment asking the Obama Administration to approve Keystone; Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mark Begich (D-AK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) are some of the co-sponsors. The Senate, still stuck on the Obamacare amendments, concluded business on Thursday without voting on the bill. This week, debate is expected to continue on Shaheen-Portman, and the House will likely consider H.R. 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act.
Off Capitol Hill, the White House is scheduled to release the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions standards for new power plants on Friday. Environmental groups have been pushing for more stringent rules while coal groups have been advocating against the inclusion of carbon capture and sequestration requirements.
On the nominations front, President Obama on Tuesday nominated Acting Assistant Energy Secretary for Fossil Energy Chris Smith and Acting Assistant Energy Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Bradley Crowell to officially serve in those positions. The same day, he nominated Beth Cobert to serve as Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management, Esther Kia’aina to serve as Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, and Victoria Wassmer to serve as Environmental Protection Agency CFO.