The Senate made a historic move Thursday to trigger the “nuclear option,” reducing the confirmation threshold for presidential nominees to a simple majority. Supreme Court nominees will still require 60 or more votes to be confirmed, but the change will allow Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and other nominees to move more quickly through the process.
No quorum was reached to consider the National Defense Authorization Act, and debates in three major House-Senate conferences—for the budget, the Farm Bill, and the Water Resources Development Act—are still ongoing. On Thursday, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) said that farm bill discussions have faltered and that it will be difficult to have a final agreement on the House floor by December 13.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) released draft legislation Thursday that could be considered part of the larger tax reform effort. The bill would repeal the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System for renewable energy and replace it with a tiered system. The Finance Committee is now considering a concept that pairs a clean energy standard with production and investment tax credits; the details of this concept are still in flux.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held annual talks from November 11 to 22 in Warsaw. The discussions were designed to set the stage for a global climate change agreement set to be made at the December 2015 conference in Paris. Countries, including the U.S., agreed to create individual plans to contribute to international efforts to reduce emissions by early 2015, but no consensus was reached as to how to evaluate the proposals.
The Senate will be in recess for the next two weeks, returning December 9 to tackle the National Defense Authorization Act, efforts to raise the minimum wage, nominations including Janet Yellen to serve as Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Jeh Johnson to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security, and possibly Affordable Care Act implementation bills.
ML Strategies wishes you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving; look for our next update December 9.