Energy and Climate Debate -
In his final major effort prior to retiring last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) reached a bipartisan agreement, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, with other House and Senate leaders and the White House on a two-year $80 billion budget deal that would suspend the federal debt limit until March 2017 and raise spending caps for defense and non-defense programs. To pay for some of the additional spending, the measure would allow the federal government to sell more than 8 percent of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or 58 million gallons of oil, between 2018 and 2025, and some policy riders, such as those blocking Environmental Protection Agency ozone and Waters of the US rules, may complicate the measure when it comes time to address funding specifics.
The House passed the measure Wednesday evening, which moved as a substitute amendment to H.R. 1314, which both chambers had already passed, before Thursday’s election of a new speaker, Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), to replace Speaker Boehner. The Senate also cleared the measure, effectively drawing to a close the budget battles of the past several year, and President Obama signed the legislation during a ceremony in the Oval Office this week. In addition to the budget and new leadership, the House had an otherwise active week; the lower chamber approved October 27 a renewal of the Export-Import Bank and is now taking up the Senate Highway bill, with an amendment changing the transportation related provisions to those drafted in the House. The Ex-Im renewal that was passed earlier by the upper chamber will be a part of the House Highway bill. Also last week, the House approved by voice vote a three week extension of federal highway, transit, and safety programs, authority for which expires October 29, through November 20. The Senate followed suit on Wednesday, just one day before the current authorization expired, and the president immediately signed the three-week extension.
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