After the Thanksgiving break, Congress is returning to Washington, D.C. with a list of things to accomplish, including voting on a continuing resolution to fund the government. And the incoming administration under President-elect Donald Trump is beginning to take shape. Finally, the House and Senate have set their schedules for 2017.
Funding the Federal Government
First things first, Congress has to deal with funding the federal government before current funding authority runs out on December 9, 2016. Both the House and Senate are working through the details, including whether to enact another continuing resolution that would push funding into the new year (through March 31, 2017) rather than pass permanent appropriations now. A continuing resolution to fund the government into the new year likely has support to pass, according to Sen. Durbin. However, the length of the new funding is uncertain. The House of Representatives originally proposed passing a bill through March. The discussions now include questions of extending that deadline through May, which is what Senate leaders support. What other policies will be included in a new Continuing Resolution is also still to be determined, although many of the existing riders may wait until a final funding package is drafted after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in.
Water Resources and Development Act
The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) also still must be addressed as House and Senate leaders make final decisions on a final WRDA package. Details on what’s in and what’s out remain elusive, although there are reports that a deal is close at hand, with indications of support from Senate Environment Chairman James Inhofe and Senator Debbie Stabenow. We remain optimistic that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative authorization will find its way into the final agreement. It’s unclear whether other Great Lakes provisions, such as the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife provision in the Senate bill and the Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Protection Act in the House bill, will make it across the finish line.
Funding for Flint, Mich to address water infrastructure is also still being debated. It’s unclear if and how it will be added to a final WRDA package. Funding for Flint could also be added to the long-term continuing resolution.
Congress wants to wrap up the work of the 114th Congress by December 9 and end-of-session deadlines have a way of focusing attention and striking deals. We could see details on these things as soon as this week. Read more in this E&E News piece.
Members of Congress Urge Impairment Designation for Lake Erie
Two members of congress, Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) have sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to declare the western basin of Lake Erie impaired under the Clean Water Act. You can read the press release from Rep. Dingell’s office here, including the letter that was sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Trump Administration: EPA Administrator
Another E&E News article addresses some of the people being considered by the Trump Administration to head the Environmental Protection Agency. As the article says “Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who’s helping to lead the legal fight against the Obama administration’s signature climate rule, and former Texas environmental regulator Kathleen Hartnett White — who has called for restraining ‘the imperial EPA’ — are both scheduled to meet with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence in New York as they continue to announce picks for administration jobs.” The article also discusses other meetings that the incoming administration has scheduled.
House and Senate Schedule
Finally, in today’s Washington Update, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have set their schedules for 2017.
Senate schedule: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/2017_schedule.htm