Week ahead: House lawmakers step up assault on regs

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee next week will ratchet up their efforts to beat back President Obama’s regulatory push against climate change.

Critics of the climate initiative, a cornerstone of Obama’s second-term agenda, view the appropriations process as the last line of defense against regulations they say will cripple the coal and agricultural industries, at the ultimate expense of consumers.

On Tuesday, the full committee will take up consideration of a $30 billion fiscal 2015 Interior and Environment appropriations bill. The legislation, which controls funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and other agencies, is chock-full of language designed to starve proposed regulations of necessary funding.

“[T]his legislation contains important provisions to rein in the harmful regulatory overreach of federal bureaucracies that will unnecessarily cause job loss and that will weaken our recovering economy,” Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said upon unveiling the bill earlier this week.

Democrats on the panel will likely float amendments to soften the language, but are outnumbered by GOP members who have made their crusade against the president’s rule-making agenda a top campaign issue for the upcoming midterms.

If enacted as drafted, the bill would prohibit the government from directing any funding to a number of proposed rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants, put various animal species on the endangered list, tighten restrictions on what fill materials companies may dump into waterways, and assert jurisdiction over streams and smaller bodies of water.

Similar provisions were attached to previous spending bills approved by the committee so far, including a Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers measure that cruised through the House on Thursday. That was the sixth 2015 appropriation bill approved by the lower chamber this year, marking the halfway point for the 12 bills that fund the federal government.

However, the Senate has yet to pass a single appropriations bill, thanks to a dispute over amendments; the language likely to be approved in the House next week would more than likely face a veto threat from the president. http://j.mp/1s3Muer

Also Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote to confirm Norman Bay and Cheryl LaFleur to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

It has been a rocky road to confirmation for the two nominees, thanks to a disagreement between the White House and lawmakers over whether Bay, Obama’s preference to serve as the agency’s chairman, should be installed in the top spot.

Under an agreement struck last month, LaFleur, currently acting chairwoman, will continue to lead the agency for at least nine months while Bay, who has never served as a commissioner, learns on the job. http://j.mp/1oLBRrv

The House Financial Services Committee will convene a hearing on Wednesday to consider a litany of regulatory relief bills aimed at trimming red tape now facing community banks. http://j.mp/1oNVosU


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