The Latest: A Weekly Federal Update (08/08/22)
Upcoming Events & Activities
August 8 – 12, 2022
All events are in Eastern Daylight Saving Time
Monday, August 8th
The events to report.
Tuesday, August 9th
11:00 AM – Department of Energy: Webinar titled, "The First Principle of Sustainability: Use Less"
3:00 PM – House Economic Disparity & Fairness in Growth Committee: "Lessons from Seattle: New Horizons for Workers' Pay, Benefits, and Protections"
Wednesday, August 10th
2:00 PM – Environmental Protection Agency: Webinar titled, "Remediating Premise Plumbing Following a Water Emergency or Disaster"
2:00 PM – House Rules Committee: "Senate amendment to H.R. 5376 – Inflation Reduction Act of 2022"
Thursday, August 11th
12:00 PM – Environmental Protection Agency: Webinar titled, "Characterizing and Treating PFAS-Impacted Source Zones"
1:00 PM – Department of Energy: Webinar titled, "People Matter: Latest Insights on How to Design Effective Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction Programs"
Friday, August 12th
The events to report.
The latest from the House and Senate committees on energy (infrastructure), WIFIA and SRF grants, water treatment and wastewater management, permitting reform, natural resources management, and environmental justice, and policy developments from the Departments of Energy and the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
H.R. 8678, To restrict certain DOE grants to any State that has in effect a law prohibiting hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within such State Sponsor: Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY-22) Committee(s): Energy & Commerce Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
H.R. 8614, To amend the Energy Policy & Conservation Act to prohibit the export or sale of petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to certain entities Sponsor: Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06) Committee(s): Energy & Commerce Date Introduced: July 29, 2022
Politico: Climate Bill Moves U.S. Closer to Biden's Target
On August 7th, Senate Democrats delivered a dramatic win for President Biden by passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which would devote $369 billion to clean energy sources and speed the U.S. transition away from fossil fuels. The House of Representatives is expected to take up the bill later this week. Its climate measures include billions of dollars to expand wind and solar power production, bring electric vehicles closer to the financial reach of more Americans, and make $1.5 billion available to oil companies cut down their greenhouse gas emissions and penalize them for failing to do so. It would also help develop technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration, and hydrogen and small nuclear reactors that experts say will be needed to get the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050, a level scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.
NGI: Cooler Mid-August Outlook Sends Natural Gas Futures Lower
After choppy trading, natural gas futures slipped firmly into the red after the latest weather model dropped a decent chunk of projected demand from the 15-day forecast. The September Nymex gas futures contract settled Friday at $8.064/MMBtu, down 5.8¢/day. October futures fell 6.3 cents to $8.051. The cooler outlook would help to loosen balances that have fueled higher prices throughout the summer. With demand outstripping supply, there are concerns that light inventories and robust demand could lead to shortages this winter. The latest government storage data offered the market a bit of optimism, though. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said inventories for the week ending July 29 increased by 41 Bcf, which is above both year-earlier levels and the five-year average.
E&E News: Climate Bill Showers Cash on Parks, Forests, & Air Monitors
On August 7th, EPA Administrator Regan said in a tweet that if H.R. 5376 is enacted that the "EPA will invest billions in deploying zero-emissions technologies." The legislation contains $3 billion to be spent on grants and rebates for improving air quality at ports. Another $1 billion would be similarly steered toward replacement of school buses, garbage trucks, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with zero-emissions models. There is also the provision of $1.55 billion to reduce releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The bill also would provide $3 billion to EPA for environmental and climate justice block grants, which would help with pollution monitoring; mitigating climate and health risks; climate resiliency; reducing indoor air pollution; and assisting disadvantaged communities to engage with state and federal government.
The latest from House and Senate committees on taxation, Social Security, federal contracting, small business and entrepreneurship support, and monetary policy, and policy developments from the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce, Office of Government Contracting, Small Business Administration, and Federal Open Market Committee (Federal Reserve System).
H.R. 8661, To improve equity and accountability in State unemployment programs, recover fraudulent payments, and prevent future fraud in the unemployment insurance program Sponsor: Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV-04) Committee(s): Ways & Means; Budget Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
H.R. 8658, To establish the Sub-Task Force on Emergency Price Stabilization Sponsor: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16) Committee(s): Financial Services Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
CNBC: Consumers' Expectations of Future Inflation Decreased Significantly
A New York Federal Reserve Bank survey showed that respondents in July expected inflation to run at a 6.2% pace over the next year and a 3.2% rate for the next three years. That marks a big drop-off from the respective 6.8% and 3.6% results from the June survey. The consumer outlook for inflation decreased significantly in July amid a sharp drop in gas prices and a growing belief that the rapid surges in food and housing also would ebb in the future.
The latest from House and Senate committees on Covid-19 vaccination and testing, developing infectious diseases, health insurance, telehealth services, tobacco and other regulated substances, and policy developments from the Department of Health & Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Food & Drug Administration, and Indian Health Service.
H.R. 8632, To establish a grant program for nursing facilities to replace traditional nursing facilities with small-house nursing facilities Sponsor: Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL-09) Committee(s): Energy & Commerce Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
Politico: PhRMA CEO Says Dems Who Vote IRA 'Won't Get a Free Pass'
On August 4th, Steve Ubl, who leads the nation's top industry group for drugmakers, has threatened swift retaliation to Democratic lawmakers who vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, which gives Medicare the authority to negotiate lower prices for drugs. PhRMA, not accustomed to losing legislative fights, has waged a multimillion-dollar advocacy campaign against the drug pricing measures, and is crafting contingency plans if they fail. In addition to hinting at running campaign ads against Democrats in tough races this fall, the industry is assessing its legal options and pondering future regulatory or legislative fixes.
Thursday’s letter largely reiterates arguments the industry has made throughout the process, with the executives from companies, including Pfizer and Merck, saying that passing the legislation would lead to fewer treatments and cures—particularly for tough illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease that can be difficult and costly to develop. Ubl said that one of PhRMA’s member companies has 15 drugs in the pipeline that would be nixed if the bill becomes law.
Politico: Dems Lose Key Piece of Health Agenda in Spending Bill
On August 6th, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that a core piece of the Democratic Party's plan can't pass the chamber under reconciliation rules (fewer than 60 votes). The exclusion of the private insurance price limits means there is little left that will reduce costs for the vast majority of Americans who receive health insurance through their private sector employer. The decision also means tens of billions less in federal savings in the bill overall, a potential threat to Democrats' hopes of offsetting the cost for shoring up the ACA's subsidies. Still, Democrats argue that the bill will move forward in the coming weeks with its most important provision intact: a repeal of the longstanding ban on the federal government directly negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
The latest from the House and Senate committees on immigration and asylum policy, detention, border security, criminal justice reform, and firearm regulation, and policy developments from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, including Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives.
H.R. 8672, To provide for the vacating of certain convictions and expungement of certain arrests of victims of human trafficking Sponsor: Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT-04) Committee(s): Judiciary Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
H.R. 8632, To establish Joint Operations Centers along the southern border of the United States Sponsor: Rep. David Joyce (R-OH-14) Committee(s): Judiciary, Ways & Means; Homeland Security Date Introduced: August 2, 2022
NPR: GOP Governors Send Buses of Migrants to DC, NYC
For months now, the governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending charter buses full of migrants and refugees to Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, just a few blocks from the Capitol Building. When they disembark, they find neither the local nor federal government there to meet them. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he started sending the buses to D.C. because the Biden administration attempted to lift the pandemic-era emergency Title 42 order that allowed the U.S. to deny migrants entry. According to Abbott's office, more than 6,100 migrants have been bused to D.C. from Texas alone. They arrive six days a week, as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. — sometimes multiple buses each day. Last week, D.C.'s Mayor Bowser requested that the federal government indefinitely deploy D.C.'s National Guard to support a nonprofit helping migrants; however, the Pentagon declined her request. On August 5th, Gov. Abbott said the first bus had arrived in New York City.
The latest from the House and Senate committees on industrial and commercial mechanical insulation, telecommunications and information technologies, electric vehicles & charging infrastructure, supply chains, port authority, public transit, and airports, and policy developments from the Departments of Energy, Housing & Urban Development, and Transportation; Federal Communications Commission; and National Labor Relations Board.
H.R. 8679, To close the digital divide Sponsor: Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI-07) Committee(s): Energy & Commerce Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
H.R. 8674, To carry out a pilot program to award competitive grants to eligible entities to train individuals for careers in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries Sponsor: Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36) Committee(s): Education & Labor Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
H.R. 8666, To amend the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose limitations on the authority of the President to adjust imports that are determined to threaten or impair national security Sponsor: Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-03) Committee(s): Ways & Means; Rules Date Introduced: August 5, 2022
H.R. 8634, To amend the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act to authorize a study to review specific outcomes of entrepreneurial skills development programs Sponsor: Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA-12) Committee(s): Education & Labor Date Introduced: August 2, 2022
Politico: Wireless Industry Scores tax Win in Democrats' Final Reconciliation Bill
On August 6th, wireless trade group, CTIA, lauded Democratic lawmakers for newly tweaked language in their final reconciliation text that specifically addresses how wireless spectrum is taxed. On August 2nd, during a Senate Commerce, Science, & Technology Committee hearing, CTIA requested language clarifying that spectrum purchases were the same as other infrastructure assets for tax purposes. In the final text of the deal released Saturday, Democrats included a special section called “Qualified Spectrum Purchases” that addressed the tax treatment of spectrum in ways resolving wireless industry anxieties.
The latest proposed rules and notices of funding opportunity from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Health & Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing & Urban Development, the Interior, the Treasury, and Transportation; Environmental Protection Agency; and Small Business Administration.
DOI: Regulatory Agenda
Per the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 and Executive Order 12866, the Department of the Interior published its semiannual issuance of an inventory of rulemaking actions under development throughout the Department. Some notable proposals within this regulatory agenda are #133 Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Revisions, and #140 Air Quality Rule.
DOT: Regulatory Agenda
Per the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 and Executive Order 12866, the Department of Transportation published its semiannual issuance of an inventory of rulemaking actions under development throughout the Department. Some notable proposals within this regulatory agenda are #166 Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair; #167 Pipeline Operation Status; #168 Safety of Gas Distribution Pipelines; and #169 Amendments to Parts 192 and 195 to Require Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards.
EPA: Implementing Addition of Certain PFAS to the Toxic Release Inventory
On August 2nd, the EPA issued a correction, regarding to the chemical name of various PFAS substances, to a final rule that was published in the Federal Register on July 18, 2022. This correction will be effective on August 17th.
EPA: Regulatory Agenda
Per the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 and Executive Order 12866, the Environmental Protection Agency published its semiannual issuance of an inventory of rulemaking actions under development throughout the Agency. Some notable proposals within this regulatory agenda are #190 Standards of Performance for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources (Oil and Natural Gas Sector Climate Review), and new rulemakings for industrial chemicals under TSCA Section 6(a).
HHS: Regulatory Agenda
Per the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 and Executive Order 12866, the Department of Health & Human Services published its semiannual issuance of an inventory of rulemaking actions under development throughout the Department. Some notable proposals within this regulatory agenda are #89 Requirements for Tobacco Product Manufacturing Practice; #90 Administrative Detention of Tobacco Products; #92 Tobacco Product Standard for Characterising Flavors in Cigars; #103 Nicotine Toxicity Warnings; #113 Conditions of Participation for Rural Emergency Hospitals & Critical Access Hospital COP Updates; and #115 Omnibus Covid-19 Healthcare Staff Vaccination.
USDA: Rural eConnectivity Program
The Rural Utilities Service has announced that it is accepting applications for the second funding round in FY2022 for the Rural eConnectivity Program (the ReConnect Program) utilizing funding provided under the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. In addition, this funding opportunity announcement defines requirements that are determined at the time a funding announcement is published, as outlined in the regulation. RUS will receive applications from September 6th until November 2nd.
The latest reports, studies, and research issued from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Government Accountability Office (GAO), public policy organizations such as the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Resources For the Future (RFF), Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), and others.
CRS: An Excise Tax on Stock Repurchases & Tax Advantages of Buybacks over Dividends
CRS: Proposed Tax Preference for Domestic Content in Energy Infrastructure
CRS: Recent Appellate Decisions of Interest to Lawmakers (August 1–August 7, 2022)
RFF: Retail Electricity Rates under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022
GAO: Enhanced Evaluation Could Improve Outreach to Small Business Owners (Tax Equity)
GAO: Improved Planning & Interagency Collaboration Could Strengthen Spectrum Reallocation Efforts (Spectrum Management)