General Legislative

The Senate convened on January 28, at 2:00 p.m. to begin a period of morning business until 4:30 p.m. Thereafter, the Senate will begin consideration of H.R.152, the Hurricane Sandy Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.

The House met in pro forma session on January 29, at 1 p.m. 

Agriculture & Food

LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY

  • Farm Bill. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced last year’s Senate-passed version of the Farm Bill as a signal that the reauthorization of the bill is a legislative priority for 2013. We do not expect, however, the Senate Committee to markup its version of the Farm Bill until after the fiscal debates occur in March.  

    During the same week, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) stated that he is now optimistic that the House leadership will schedule floor time to consider the Farm Bill this year. Earlier in January, Representative Peterson sent a letter to the House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) requesting a written commitment that the Farm Bill will receive floor consideration, otherwise, Representative Peterson would refuse to participate in the House Agriculture Committee’s markup.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In unveiling her budget priorities for the year, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) has made a commitment to protect SNAP against proposed cuts, as the program accounts for nearly 80 percent of spending for Farm Bill programs. Last year, the Senate-passed Farm Bill cut SNAP funding by $4 billion, while the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the Farm Bill cuts the program by $16 billion.
  • Immigration. On Tuesday, January 29, the White House will unveil its comprehensive immigration plan at an event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Upcoming Hearing. The Senate Agriculture Committee indicated that it will convene a hearing on a reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), but no date has been set.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Dana Weekes at 202-457-6307 or dweekes@pattonboggs.com


Budget, Appropriations

  • Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Aid. After spending last week working on an agreement to modify filibuster rules, the Senate will vote today on the Sandy supplemental appropriations bill, a $50.6 billion emergency disaster appropriations package (H.R. 152) approved by the House on Tuesday, January 15. Senators will first vote on an amendment proposed by Mike Lee (R-UT) to offset the cost of the bill (the amendment is expected to fail). Despite the differences in funding allocations between the House bill and what the Senate passed in December, which may lose some of the Republican votes, the measure is expected to pass and finally move forward for the President’s signature.
  • Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase. On Wednesday, January 23, the House approved legislation (H.R. 325) to suspend the nation’s borrowing authority limit through May 18 and then increase the current ceiling of $16.4 trillion to include the amount of debt accrued in that time frame. As previously reported, the bill also includes a provision to hold Member salaries in escrow if either chamber does not approve a budget resolution by April 15 (the Senate has not approved a budget resolution since 2009). Despite a preference for a longer-term solution, the White House announced it would not oppose the legislation and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will bring it up for a Senate vote this week.

    Prior to the House vote, incoming Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) reiterated Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) previous assertion that the Senate would craft an FY 2014 Budget Resolution, regardless of the outcome of the House vote. On Thursday, Chairwoman Murray released a 12-page memorandum to her colleagues outlining her vision for deficit reduction, including a budget resolution. Calculating that 80 percent of recent deficit reduction savings have come from spending cuts, the Chairwoman plans to continue the Democratic push for increased tax revenue.

    In contrast, House Republicans intend to propose a budget resolution which balances the federal budget in 10 years (as opposed to the approximately 28-year plan they put forth in 2012). In order to secure conservative House Republican support for the debt ceiling extension, majority leaders proposed this strategy, along with a promise to push for a $73 billion reduction in FY 2013 spending by lowering the $1.047 trillion discretionary spending cap to $974 billion.
  • Toomey and McCaskill Reintroduce Permanent Earmark Ban. On Thursday, January 24, Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) reintroduced a bill (S. 126) to permanently ban earmarks which they intend to introduce as an amendment to Senate legislation this year. Eight Senators signed on as original cosponsors: Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Mike Johanns (R-NE); Ron Johnson (R-WI); Rob Portman (R-OH); Marco Rubio (R-FL); Tim Scott (R-SC); and Mark Udall (D-CO). The measure was voted down as an amendment to the STOCK Act last year and with increasing overtures to reconsider the earmark ban and bring back the process in a limited capacity, it is not likely to advance this year either.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Pam Welsh at 202-457-6493 or pwelsh@pattonboggs.com.
 


 

Cybersecurity

Legislative Branch Activity

  • Cybersecurity Legislation. Last week, key Senate Democrats introduced the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 21), a placeholder bill which outlines their priorities for cybersecurity legislation in the 113th Congress. The bill’s sponsors include Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tom Carper (D-DE), along with Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Chris Coons (D-DE). While the bill only contains language regarding the “sense of Congress” on cybersecurity issues, it does serve as an indicator that Senate Democrats see cybersecurity legislation as a priority for this year and may be willing to negotiate with the House to reach a compromise on a bill in the future.            

    The bill does not mention the establishment of standards for critical infrastructure – a key point of controversy in the last Congress – but it does call for bipartisan cybersecurity legislation that will do the following:

o    Enhance the security and resiliency of public and private communications and information networks against a cyber attack;

o    Establish mechanisms for cyber threat information sharing between the government and the private sector;

o    Develop a public-private system to improve the assessment, prevention, detection, and response capabilities of the U.S. against a cyber attack on critical infrastructure;

o    Promote research and development investments in the information technology sector;

o    Promote cybersecurity and information technology training programs;

o    Prevent and mitigate identity theft;

o    Enhance U.S. diplomatic capacity and public-private international cooperation to respond to emerging cyber threats;

o    Expand resources for investigating and prosecuting cyber crimes; and

o    Maintain protections of the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.

Executive Branch Activity

  • Executive Order. The Obama Administration is expected to release its Executive Order (EO) regarding cybersecurity in the coming weeks, as Senators Rockefeller and Feinstein have asked the President to take swift action and use the full extent of his executive power to address cybersecurity issues. Senator Carper has also expressed his support of an EO but sees this only as a short-term solution, noting that legislation is the best way to truly address cyber threats in the future.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Amy Davenport at 202-457-6528 or adavenport@pattonboggs.com


Education

LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY

  • Campus Crime Reporting Changes. As expected, a bill (S. 47) to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators last week. The bill includes an expansion of the Clery Act, a 1990 law that requires colleges and universities to report crime on or near their campuses. Last year, the House and Senate had competing versions of the VAWA bill, and the chambers were not able to reconcile the bills in the lame duck session. The White House preferred the Clery Act expansion in the Senate bill, which proposed new requirements to report campus incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. House Republicans took issue with the Senate version of the bill because they think the House Education and the Workforce Committee (not the Judiciary Committee) has jurisdiction over campus-related laws, and the Committee should address the issue as part of the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization.

    While we expect House Republicans to maintain their position, a companion measure to the Senate bill has been introduced in the House (H.R. 11) that has more than 150 cosponsors. While education committee staff in the House will work to draft legislation reauthorizing HEA this year, VAWA could gain momentum quicker than that process may allow, and the provision is likely to be included in a legislative vehicle that is moving forward. Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid placed reauthorization of VAWA on his list of the first 10 measures to be introduced in the Senate for the 113th Congress.
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released a series of new publications, including a brochure and fact sheets on the five priority areas under ESEA flexibility: (1) Continuing to expose and close achievement gaps; (2) Advancing accountability for graduation rates; (3) Turning around the lowest-performing schools; (4) Protecting school and student accountability; and (5) Supporting teachers, leaders, and local innovation. The publications also provide examples of how some participating states are engaging in educational reforms under the priority areas listed. Currently, the Department has approved 34 states and the District of Columbia for ESEA flexibility.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the authors of this section: Amy Budner Smith at 202-457-6154 or abudner@pattonboggs.com and Dana Weekes at 202-457-6307 or dweekes@pattonboggs.com


Energy

Legislative Activity

  • Senate Budget Resolution. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) intends to “return to regular order and move a budget resolution…to the Senate floor” (the budget resolution is a non-binding document that sets general revenue levels for the upcoming fiscal year). The new chairman called for a “balanced approach that puts jobs and the middle class first” and calls on “the wealthy to pay their fair share.” We expect Democrats to continue criticizing House Republicans for wanting to “cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations” as a basis for reviving the President’s proposals to eliminate certain oil and gas tax preferences (e.g., repealing provision for expensing of intangible drilling costs).
  • Congressional Hearings. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a field hearing regarding pipeline safety on Monday, January 28 in Charleston, West Virginia. The Committee will also review a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study regarding the ability of transmission pipeline facility operators to respond to a hazardous liquid or gas release.

Regulatory Activity

  • Keystone XL Pipeline. Following Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman’s (R) recommended approval of TransCanada’s proposed “Nebraska Reroute,” 53 Senators (44 Republicans and 9 Democrats) urged President Obama last week “to finish expeditiously the [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] review process and approve the pipeline.” Although the U.S. Department of State had initially planned on making a recommendation in the first quarter of 2013, we anticipate that the decision making timeline will slip into the second quarter to provide time to conclude the Department’s review. Meanwhile, environmental groups are planning another protest at the White House over Presidents’ Day weekend.
  • ETTAC. The International Trade Administration’s Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting on February 26 in Washington, DC. The newly reappointed Committee will begin to outline important issues that affect environmental trade and review the status of the U.S. Environmental Export Initiative.     
  • Innovation/Manufacturing. The National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship will meet on February 19 at the Department of Commerce to discuss the Administration’s latest initiatives and issues regarding innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization and manufacturing.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing. The Bureau of Land Management has submitted its revised proposed well stimulation rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for regulatory review. The U.S. Department of Interior had originally planned to finalize the rule by the end of 2012.
  • OCS Service Fees. Effective February 2, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will adjust certain cost recovery service fees to reflect a 6.72 percent inflation factor. The fees were last updated in 2008.
  • FERC. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a Final Policy Statement to clarify and refine its policies governing the allocation of capacity for new merchant transmission projects and new non-incumbent, cost-based, participant-funded transmission projects.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Tanya DeRivi at 202-457-6504 or tderivi@pattonboggs.com


Environment

Legislative Activity 

  • Wind Turbines. Congress extended the Production Tax Credit (PTC) through the end of the year under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The extension of the PTC applies to all U.S. wind projects that commence construction before 2014 (the industry is awaiting guidance about how much and what type of work must be underway to meet the standard for commencing construction). In addition to the PTC, the law also covers investment tax credits for community and offshore wind projects. On a related note, New Jersey has been selected as the first phase of the Atlantic Wind Connection’s multi-year offshore wind transmission project. This phase of the project is being called the New Jersey Energy Link. The NJ Energy Link will be an offshore electrical transmission cable, buried under the ocean, linking energy resources and users in northern, central and southern New Jersey. The cable will span the length of New Jersey and carry 3,000MW of electricity. The NJ Energy Link will be built in three phases. It is expected to begin construction in 2016 and the first phase to be in service in 2019.

Regulatory Activity

  • Clean Air Standards for Stationary Engines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized revisions to standards to reduce air pollution from stationary engines that generate electricity and power equipment at industrial, agricultural, oil and gas production, power generation and other facilities. The final revised rule is expected to reduce the capital and annual costs of the original 2010 rules by $287 million and $139 million, respectively, and is expected to reduce pollutants, including 2,800 tons per year (tpy) of hazardous air pollutants; 36,000 tpy of carbon monoxide; 2,800 tpy of particulate matter; 9,600 tpy of nitrogen oxides, and 36,000 tpy of volatile organic compounds. The ruling is primarily expected to impact to the following types of engines:
  • Engines typically used in sparsely populated areas for oil and gas production
  • Engines in remote areas of Alaska
  • Engines scheduled to be replaced due to state or local requirements, and certain engines installed in 2006
  • Engines for offshore vessels operating on the Outer Continental Shelf
  • Engines used in emergency demand response programs
  • Algae Biofuels. The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the availability of up to $10 million in funding for projects that may unlock the potential of biofuels made from algae. The funding is intended to support research projects aimed at boosting the productivity of algae cultivation systems and demonstrating algae harvest and processing technologies, such as centrifugation and extraction. The Department encourages applicants from industry, universities and national laboratories to apply by April 1.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Sarah Vilms at 202-457-5248 or svilms@pattonboggs.com


Financial Services

Legislative Activity

  • GAO Issues Report on Financial Regulatory Reform. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report reviewing implementation of financial regulatory reform. The GAO identified 236 provisions that require regulators to issue rulemakings and, as of December 2012, regulators had issued final rules for about 48 percent of these provisions. Regulators had proposed rules for about 29 percent of the remaining provisions. The GAO specifically identified ways to enhance the accountability and transparency of the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s decisions and activities and improve collaboration among its members.
  • House Tax Committee Chairman Considers Tax Rules for Financial Products. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a financial products discussion draft, addressing tax treatment of financial products, including derivatives, debt restructurings, bonds, and securities.

Regulatory Activity

  • President Obama Nominates New SEC Chairman. President Obama nominated Mary Jo White to be Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to fill the role vacated by former Chairman Mary Schapiro. Ms. White is currently a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton and previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
  • CFPB’s Director Cordray Renominated, Court Decision Puts Recess Appointment in Jeopardy. President Obama nominated Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The confirmation process could be difficult, as Republicans have consistently objected to the single-director leadership model of the CFPB, as opposed to a five-member commissioner structure. Mr. Cordray currently serves as Director of the CFPB stemming from his recess appointment in January 2012. On Friday, January 25, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. District ruled that President Obama improperly made three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Senate Republicans responded that Mr. Cordray’s recess appointment, while not part of the Court’s ruling, may also be unconstitutional, as he was appointed at the same time and through the same method.
  • CFTC Commissioner Sommers to Resign. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Jill Sommers, a Republican, announced her resignation from the CFTC, effective at the end of March 2013.
  • CFTC to Hold Roundtable on “Swaps to Futures.”  On Thursday, January 31, the CFTC will hold a staff roundtable on “Futurization of Swaps.” The day-long event will discuss industry views and concerns, focusing specifically on different clearing and margin regimes between swaps and futures, block trade rule distinctions, and the effect of the migration from swaps to futures for end-user customers.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Matthew Kulkin at 202-457-6056 or mkulkin@pattonboggs.com


Health Care

Legislative Activity 

  • Senate HELP Hearing. The Senate Committee on Help, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging will hold a hearing on Tuesday January 29 titled “30 Million New Patients and 11 Months to Go: Who Will Provide Their Primary Care?” Witnesses at the hearing will include Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan with the George Washington University Schools of Public Health and Medicine, Tess Stack Kuenning with the Bi-State Primary Care Association, Toni Decklever of the Wyoming Nurses Association, Dr. Andrew Wilper with the Boise VA Medical Center, Dr. Uwe Reinhardt with Princeton University, and Claudia Fegan with the John H. Stroger Jr. Hopsotal of Cook County in Chicago.
  • House VA Hearing. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has scheduled a hearing on February 5 titled “Analyzing VA’s Actions to Prevent Legionnaire’s Disease in Pittsburgh.”

Regulatory Activity

  • Upcoming Regulations. The Physician Payment Sunshine rule is expected to be released any day now, which requires drug and device manufacturers to report payments to physicians. Other regulations under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) include a U.S. Department of Labor rule on overtime payments for in-home health care workers, as well as a proposed rule from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the verification process for employer sponsored coverage eligibility for health insurance premium tax credits.

Other Health News

  • KFF Reports. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released two reports on Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility, Enrollment, Renewal and Cost-Sharing Policies in 2012 and 2013. The first report, “Getting into Gear for 2014: Findings From a 50-State Survey of Eligibility, Enrollment, Renewal and Cost-Sharing Policies in Medicaid and CHIP, 2012-2013,” finds that nearly all states are pressing forward with information technology and process improvements to develop faster, streamlined Medicaid enrollment systems as required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), whether or not the state elects to expand Medicaid coverage under the law. As of January 1, 2013, 47 states had applied for or received increased federal funds to make major upgrades to Medicaid enrollment systems, and 42 states had already begun their system development work, according to the survey, conducted with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Federal regulations released in 2012 outline the requirements for all Medicaid programs to have web-based, paperless, real-time enrollment processes that will rely on electronic data and minimize administrative burdens on individuals and eligibility workers. The survey provides a snapshot of Medicaid and CHIP enrollment, eligibility policies and procedures and highlights the changes that states will need to make in their programs to prepare for the ACA in 2014.

    The second report “Faces of the Medicaid Expansion: How Obtaining Medicaid Coverage Impacts Low-Income Adults,” takes a closer look at the population that has benefitted from Medicaid expansion.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Eugenia Edwards at 202-457-5622 or eedwards@pattonboggs.com


International, Defense, and Homeland Security

Legislative and regulatory Activity

  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and State Department Developments. After emphasizing the need for U.S. leadership on climate change and international economic and development policy, as well as continued monitoring of developments in Syria, Iran, and numerous other global trouble spots, at his warmly-received confirmation hearing on Thursday, January 24, SFRC Chairman John Kerry’s (D-MA) nomination as Secretary of State could move to the full Senate as soon as next week. Senator Kerry could take over from outgoing Secretary Hillary Clinton as early as February, at which point Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) officially would become the Committee’s next Chairman.
  • Executive Office of the President Developments. With Tony Blinken, Vice President Biden’s National Security Adviser, succeeding new White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough as the President’s Deputy National Security Adviser, expect the Vice President’s already-integral role in shaping the Administration’s national security policy to solidify still further. With assistance from Blinken and others, Vice President Biden will continue to press the Administration to keep to its plans for as rapid and complete a military withdrawal from Afghanistan as possible, among other policy priorities. Also, while his title may have changed, McDonough, a longtime foreign policy adviser to Senator and President Obama, is certain to remain vitally engaged in the White House’s decision-making process on national security issues.  Meanwhile, following Ambassador Ron Kirk’s widely-predicted announcement this past week that he will step down as United States Trade Representative (USTR) in late February, expect President Obama to name a successor in short order. Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman, former Governor Christine Gregoire (D-WA), and several other leading candidates are reportedly under consideration for the position.
  • House Homeland Security Committee (HHSC) Developments. Two freshmen Republicans have quickly climbed the ranks at the Committee, as Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC) will chair HHSC Subcommittees in their first term. Representative Brooks will chair the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee (on which Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), a fellow freshman, will serve as Ranking Member) while Representative Hudson will oversee the high-visibility Transportation Security Subcommittee. Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) will succeed Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) as Ranking Member on the Transportation Security Subcommittee, as Representative Jackson-Lee moves over to serve as the top Democrat on the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee. Meanwhile, former HHSC Chairman Peter King (R-NY) will chair the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee.
  • Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Developments. Secretary of Defense-designate Chuck Hagel continues to garner support from Democratic Senators in advance of his nomination hearing before the SASC on Thursday, January 31. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a SASC member, and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced their backing of former Senator Hagel this past week. In addition, following a meeting between Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), also a Committee member, and Senator Hagel, the Senator’s office said he is generally favorably disposed toward deferring to the President on Cabinet nominations. Expect a more full-throated endorsement of Senator Hagel by Senator Udall in the coming days.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Scott Thompson at 202-457-6110 or sthompson@pattonboggs.com.


Transportation & Infrastructure


  • Priorities for the 113th Congress. Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee approved Subcommittee Assignments, Committee Rules and the Committee’s Oversight Plan during the Committee’s organizational meeting. In addition to a robust oversight agenda covering implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and surface transportation reauthorization bills enacted in the 112th Congress, House T&I’s organizational meeting confirmed a focus for the 113th Congress on the Water Resources Development Act; reauthorization of passenger and freight rail legislation (PRIIA and RSIA); and the next reauthorization of MAP-21, including efforts to restore the surface transportation program onto sound financial footing. The Committee’s rules also allow for the creation of a new panel (which will not have legislative authority) to examine issues that cut across subcommittees, such as freight movement and intermodalism. This set of priorities is consistent with the Senate’s anticipated agenda. Further, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated this week that infrastructure is among his top priorities for the 113th Congress, stating that initiatives to “mend our broken immigration system, strengthen our schools, and rebuild our roads and bridges” would be centerpieces of efforts by his caucus.
  • Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Behind-the-scenes action continues to prepare WRDA legislation for consideration in the Senate EPW Committee. Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) has indicated that he and Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) are trying to get to a “truly bipartisan” draft in “early February” that includes significant reforms to the Army Corps of Engineers process.
  • Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Bill. With the Senate having approved modest but consequential new filibuster rules, the Senate Majority Leader moved swiftly to schedule votes for Monday evening on the House-passed Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations Bill. There will first be a vote on an amendment by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) requiring offsetting spending cuts for the $50.5 billion bill (which will not pass) and then a vote on final passage. The House-passed bill is expected to pass and be sent to the President for his signature. The bill provides $13.07 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation (including $10.9 billion in Transit Emergency Relief), $5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers and $600 million for EPA State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) for affected areas.
  • New Starts/Small Starts Final Rule. The comment period continues for the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Policy Guidance accompanying the recently promulgated New Starts and Small Starts Final Rule. A copy of the proposed Policy Guidance can be found here. Comments must be received on or before March 11.
  • Secretary of Transportation. Speculation continues as to Secretary Ray LaHood’s future and candidates to replace him if and when he steps down. Rumors swirled this week around Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who received a strong statement of endorsement from EPW Chairman and California Senator Barbara Boxer. Indications are that Secretary LaHood will remain at the U.S. Department of Transportation for the foreseeable future, and nothing definitive has been announced or leaked with respect to the Secretary’s future.


Contact Information
For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the authors of this section: Jared Fleisher at 202-457-6341 or efleisher@pattonboggs.com and Jessica Monahan at 202-457-6302 or jmonahan@pattonboggs.com.