Week ahead: Chamber unveils 2015 agenda

The Chamber of Commerce will unveil its 2015 policy agenda on Wednesday. Buoyed by a new Republican-controlled Congress the business group is launching a renewed push to reform the federal rule-making process.

In his Annual State of American Business Address chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue is expected to discuss the top challenges facing the business community in 2015 and detail the chamber’s key fights for the coming year.

{mosads}The Keystone XL pipeline, changing the definition of full-time workers under the Affordable Care Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act top the list.

On Friday, the chamber urged Congress not to delay the Keystone vote any longer after the Nebraska Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s challenge to the controversial energy project. The House passed legislation approving the project and the Senate will take its first votes on the pipeline Monday. The White House, though, has warned that President Obama will veto the bill.

“The Nebraska Supreme Court’s decision removes the last excuse that the Obama administration has been using to justify the unconscionable delays in the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline,” Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy said in a statement Friday.

“Now that the pipeline route in Nebraska has been settled, it is time for President Obama to approve the pipeline—no more excuses, no more delays.”

The chamber is also pushing Congress to restore the definition of full-time under Obamacare from 30-hours back to a 40-hour workweek by passing the Save American Workers Act of 2015. The House voted down the 30-hour rule but it is unclear when the Senate will act.

The chamber is also vowing to spend this year working to reform the regulatory process.

Last month, Donohue told Congress to “step-up it’s game” and require up or down votes on costly rules, force federal agencies to fully disclose all data used when making a rule and allow for that data to be peer reviewed.

“We currently have a government that has shifted into regulatory overdrive,” he said.  “The administration knows time is running out and there is every incentive and temptation to ram new rules through the pipeline and never mind the process, the research, the cost or the benefits.”

Congress will act on that front with the House Rules Committee taking up the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 on Monday.

It would put the Obama administration’s most expensive regulations under the microscope and encourage federal agencies to minimize the cost of regulations by pursuing the least costly rules.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) reintroduced the Regulatory Accountability Act this week in response to what he sees as a rising regulatory burden on the American public,

“Today, Americans face a burden of over $3 trillion from federal taxation and regulation,” Goodlatte said in a statement.

The House will also consider legislation to delay a portion of the Volcker Rule, a key element of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. The rule prevents banks from making some risky trades with their own funds.

House Democrats blocked a fast-tracked version of a bill delaying the rule, but Republicans will take it up again.

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