Friday, December 16, 2011

Spending Bill Deal Should Avoid Shutdown; Some Riders Removed

Dec 16: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement after meeting with House Republicans this morning regarding the vote expected later today on a "bipartisan, bicameral government funding agreement." The Speaker said, "The House will vote today on bipartisan, bicameral legislation that funds our government and -- for the first time in modern history -- cuts discretionary spending for the second year in a row. Congress is leading by example by cutting our own budget -- again -- and saving taxpayer dollars by eliminating federal programs. The bill provides for a pay raise for our troops. And there are no earmarks in this bill.

    "Above all, this funding bill reflects our ongoing commitment to creating a better environment for job growth. It stops several excessive government regulations on job creators. And it includes provisions that will help speed up the development of new American energy. I want to thank Chairman Rogers and his team for all the great work they've done – sometimes under difficult circumstances. This is a bipartisan bill – put together in a bipartisan way – and I expect it to pass with bipartisan support."

    Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a statement on the spending bill which she said has been "agreed to by congressional and White House negotiators" and should avert a government shutdown. She said, "Thanks to President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders, dozens of anti-environment 'riders' sought by the radical Tea Party and the House Republican leadership have been kept out of the omnibus spending bill. That's a victory for the American people. We've stopped the extremists from blocking restrictions on air pollution, fouling our waters, threatening endangered species and despoiling our public lands.

    "Unfortunately, the bill still contains some damaging riders, including one that will weaken air pollution controls in the Arctic and another that will block funding to enforce new light bulb efficiency standards that were signed into law by George W. Bush. Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing on the payroll tax-cut extension bill, to which Republican leaders have attached two major anti-environmental assaults, one short-circuiting review of the Keystone XL pipeline and the other blocking mercury limits on industrial boilers. So the fight is not over. And all this was so unnecessary. If Republican leaders had just let Congress do its job of writing spending and tax bills, lawmakers could have completed their work weeks ago -- without having put the country through another manufactured crisis."

    Regarding the payroll tax-cut extension bill, Speaker Boehner's office release a statement saying that "bipartisan support for the Keystone energy project has only continued to grow in the week since President Obama said he would 'reject' legislation supporting the job-creating pipeline. " The statement indicated that, "Yesterday, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) told reporters that Keystone 'has the backing of several Democrats.'  'It's always had more Democratic support than people thought,' she said.  All told, as many as 14 Senate Democrats are reportedly supportive of Keystone.  That's in addition to the 47 House Democrats who voted earlier this year to require the administration to act quickly act on the project. " The statement includes a number of supporting quotes from Senate and House Democrats.

    Regarding the light bulb standards rider, Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) issued a statement saying, "This decision may have little practical consequence on which incandescent light bulbs are available in stores because, starting Jan. 1, it will be illegal to produce or import the inefficient, wasteful bulbs in the United States. The five major bulb manufacturers have already switched to making and selling the better bulbs. If America is to have a rational energy policy, we need to make progress in efficiency.  Blocking funds to enforce minimum standards works against our nation getting the full benefits of energy efficiency."

    Yesterday evening, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) announced that the final fiscal year 2012 Appropriations legislation "will move forward with the approval of House and Senate conferees." He said, "The House and Senate have reached a final agreement to move forward on the final fiscal year 2012 Appropriations legislation. I am hopeful that the House and Senate can pass this bill tomorrow to prevent a government shutdown, fund critical programs and services for the American people, and cut spending to help put the nation's finances on a more sustainable path. In spite of many unnecessary obstacles, it is good to see that responsible leadership and good governance can triumph." The appropriations bill is, H.R.2055, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (MilCon VA Omnibus).

    Today on the House Floor, Chairman Rogers presented the final Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations legislation, which includes the Conference report for the remaining nine Appropriations bills, as well as two other bills that provide funding for disaster recovery and assistance. He said the package cuts federal government spending "to the tune of some $95 billion." He thanked Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), the Ranking Member and said, "I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan effort to reduce federal spending, responsibly fund our troops and government programs, and provide crucial disaster aid funding."

    Media reports indicate that the House is expected to adjourn Friday and return next week to finish the payroll tax legislation. The Senate is expected to work over the weekend on the appropriations bill.

    Access the release from Speaker Boehner on the funding bill (click here). Access the statement from NRDC (click here). Access the statement from the Speaker's office on the Keystone XL pipeline (click here). Access the statement from Senator Bingaman (click here). Access yesterday's statement from Rep. Rogers (click here); and today's Floor statement (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.2055 (click here). Access the Conference Report (click here). Access a report from The Hill on the latest activities (click here). [#HR2055, #KeystoneXL, #budget #GOP #DEMS, #taxcut]