The Latest: A Weekly Federal Update (08/15/22)
Upcoming Events & Activities
August 15 – 19, 2022
All events are in Eastern Daylight Saving Time
Monday, August 15th
The events to report.
Tuesday, August 16th
1:30 PM | White House: Briefing titled, "How the Inflation Reduction Act Will Cut Costs for American Families"
Wednesday, August 17th
2:00 PM | White House: Briefing titled, "How the Inflation Reduction Act Will Tackle the Climate Crisis & Bolster American Energy Security"
3:00 PM | Environmental Protection Agency: Webinar titled, "PFAS Strategic Roadmap: Research Tools & Resources"
Thursday, August 18th
1:00 PM | White House: Briefing titled, "How the Inflation Reduction Act Will Cut Prescription Drug Costs, Lower Health Insurance Premiums, & Expand Coverage"
3:00 PM | White House: Briefing titled, "How the Inflation Reduction Act Will Benefit Rural Americans"
Friday, August 19th
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.
No recent legislation
Politico: EPA Negotiates with Pipeline Companies Over Formaldehyde Limits
In a filing on August 11th, the Environmental Protection Agency asked for a six-month delay on briefing as it entered talks with TransCanada and the Williams Companies, which sued the EPA arguing that the EPA's 180 days to demonstrate compliance were "infeasible." A 2004 regulation for stationary combustion turbines included formaldehyde emissions limits that were administratively stayed for the intervening 18 years for certain types of turbines. EPA in March issued a rule ending that stay, giving pipeline companies and others 180 days to prove compliance with the 2004 standards.
Politico: NRC Approves First Advanced Small Reactor Design in the U.S.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on August 12th approved the first small modular nuclear design in the U.S., marking a major win for the advanced nuclear industry that could signal a shift in how the U.S. generates power in the coming decades. The Commission will certify developer NuScale’s design, which was first submitted to the agency in 2016. The move allows the advanced reactor company to proceed with a proposed six module plant in Idaho that would be capable of producing 462 megawatts of carbon-free power. NuScale is aiming to have the project begin generating power by 2029, and be fully operational by 2030.
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).
No recent legislation
KHOU: Expanded IRS Free-File System Now One Step Closer
Following the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the Internal Revenue Service is set to receive nearly $80 billion to boost personnel, enforcement, and customer service. In a June Senate Finance Committee hearing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen alluded that a free-file system is "definitely something [the IRS] should do, and when the IRS is adequately resourced, it's something that will happen." Even in a best-case scenario, it will likely take years to get a new, free system up and running. There's also pushback from commercial tax preparation companies, which question whether Americans want the IRS to prepare their taxes.
Perhaps this biggest hurdle is an agreement between the IRS and some commercial tax preparation companies, known as the Free File Alliance, which prevents the federal agency from creating its own free tax return filing system. In short, the IRS agreed not create its own filing system if companies would instead provide free services to taxpayers making $73,000 or less. This program, though, has been marred with controversy, with commercial firms misrepresenting their services and low taxpayer participation rates. The Government Accountability Office in April reported that while 70% of taxpayers were eligible for services through the Free File Alliance, only 3% of taxpayers actually use the service. The watchdog recommended the IRS find new free filing options before the Alliance expires in October 2023. With the funding in the bill, the IRS has an opportunity to create a new system.
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. 8702, To prohibit the implementation of the proposed rule entitled, "Nondiscrimination in Health Programs & Activities" Sponsor: Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA-06) Committee(s): Energy & Commerce Date Introduced: August 12, 2022
H.R. 8693, To ensure access to cost-free monkeypox testing services Sponsor: Rep. Sean patrick Maloney (D-NY-18) Committee(s): Energy & Commerce; Ways & Means; Oversight & Reform Date Introduced: August 9, 2022
Politico: Questions Swirl Around FDA's Monkeypox Vaccine Dose-Sparing Plan
On August 9th, HHS officials announced they had a plan to stretch the doses of Jynneos, the only FDA-cleared monkeypox vaccine. Under the new authorization, healthcare providers would administer one-fifth of the usual vaccine dose in between layers of the skin–instead of beneath it. The 441,000 doses of Jynneos vaccine in the Strategic National Stockpile would be stretched to 2.2 million doses. But on the other hand, health experts and advocates immediately expressed concerns over the limited data backing the strategy, as did executives at Bavarian Nordic, the Danish company that manufactures Jynneos. In an August 9th letter to HHS officials, the company’s president and CEO Paul Chaplin wrote that “we do have some reservations [...] due to the very limited safety data available.”
Reuters: Emergent Receives FDA Warning Letter Over Quality Control Issues
On August 12th, Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. said it had received a warning letter from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, citing certain deficiencies at the contract drugmaker's manufacturing facility in Baltimore, Maryland. The FDA pointed to deficiencies in cleaning and maintenance of equipment to prevent contamination of drug product and also recommended the company review its quality control process, Emergent said. Emergent has struggled with quality issues at another one of its Baltimore plants that had been making Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine.
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. 8714, To halt the issuance of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to nationals of recalcitrant countries Sponsor: Rep. Thomas Tiffany (R-WI-07) Committee(s): Judiciary Date Introduced: August 12, 2022
H.R. 8710, To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit to Congress quarterly reports relating to the total numbers of aliens apprehended by the U.S. Border patrol unlawfully crossing the border who identifying information is within the terrorist screening database Sponsor: Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX-22) Committee(s): Judiciary; Homeland Security Date Introduced: August 12, 2022
H.R. 8709, To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to prioritize the removal of certain aliens Sponsor: Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX-22) Committee(s): Judiciary Date Introduced: August 12, 2022
Washington Examiner: Texans Back Gov. Abbott's Immigrant Busing Policy
According to an August poll by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, 51% of registered Texan voters answered that they support Governor Greg Abbott's handling of immigration at the border versus 42% who disapprove. President Joe Biden fared worse: Just 34% of Texans backed Biden’s border response, while 55% were not happy with his performance over the last 19 months. 50% percent of respondents said they believe a wall along the Texas-Mexico border is “necessary for a safe border."
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. 8688, To establish a grant program for certain institutions of higher education to plan and implement projects for economic and community development in economically distressed communities Sponsor: Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-16) Committee(s): Transportation & Infrastructure; Financial Services Date Introduced: August 9, 2022
H.R. 8682, To establish the Federal Infrastructure Bank to facilitate investment in, and the long-term financing of, economically viable United States infrastructure project that provide a public benefit Sponsor: Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL-11) Committee(s): Transportation & Infrastructure; Financial Services; Ways & Means Date Introduced: August 9, 2022
Consumer Reports: Which EVs Will Qualify for Tax Credit Under IRA?
Under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, there is a new tax credit of up to $4,000 on used electric cars and revised tax credits of up to $7,500 on certain new EVs. But due to numerous new rules about where new EVs must be built and their batteries sourced, automakers argue that too few vehicles qualify, and EV advocates are concerned that the requirements may make it difficult for consumers to find a vehicle that qualifies for the credits. Most of the proposed rules go into effect for cars put into service after December 31, 2022 and are valid through 2032. However, the requirement that vehicles be made in North America in order to qualify will go into effect as soon as the law is passed, and some other provisions don’t go into effect until after regulations are finalized. The Inflation Reduction Act will also eliminate the tax credits for pricey EVs, such as the Hummer EV, Lucid Air, and Tesla Model S and Model X.
Here are the following EVs that are likely to be eligible: Cadillac Lyriq (only if classified as an SUV), Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Nissan Leaf, Rivian R1S, Rivian R1T, Tesla Cybertruck, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y (only if classified as an SUV), and Volkswagen ID.4 (only 2023+ models made in Tennessee).
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.
DOE: Energy Conservation Standards for Commercial & Industrial Pumps
On August 9, the U.S. Department of Energy published a request for information regarding energy conservation standards for commercial and industrial pumps. In this notice of data availability (“NODA”), DOE is publishing an overview of potential technology/design options and associated estimated national energy savings with preliminary industry net present value estimates for certain pump equipment classes in order to provide stakeholders with additional information and to assist DOE in determining how to proceed with the rulemaking. Until September 26, 2022, DOE requests comments, data, and information regarding its analysis.
FERC: Duty of Candor
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposes to add a requirement that all entities communicating with the Commission or other specified entities communicating with the Commission or other specified organizations related to a matter subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission submit accurate and factual information and not submit false or misleading information or omit material information. An entity is shielded from violation of the regulation if it has exercised due diligence to prevent such occurrences. FERC is accepting comments until October 11, 2022.
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.