Congressional Update

Last week, Congress returned from July 4th recess and got to work. First, House Appropriators began to work through the 12 bills that Speaker McCarthy promised members of the Freedom Caucus would each be considered on the floor. At this point, the goal is to have all 12 bills reported out of committee before August recess so that they can be considered individually in September. In addition to adjusting funding for FY 2024, each of the House Appropriations bills (so far) have included specific policy riders. For example, the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies (THUD) bill includes a provision that would bar any funds from being used to support the “Greenhouse Gas Performance Measure Rule” published last year by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). These policy riders may become especially controversial as the appropriations process unfolds.

Separately, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C) marked up three bills aimed at countering China and ensuring the U.S. can continue to lead in the automobile space. E&C Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said the committee wants to “secure America’s energy future the American way, through free-enterprise and innovation,” noting that “EPA wants to eliminate that choice by making nearly 70 percent of new vehicles electric by 2032. That is not how we win the future.” The three bills: (1) H.R. 1435, The Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act; (2) H.R. 4468, The Choice in Automobile Retail Sales Act of 2023; and (3) H.R. 4469, The No Fuel Credits for Batteries Act of 2023 were passed out of committee along party lines. We will continue to monitor their progression through the House, though it’s important to note that any partisan House legislation will face an uphill battle when it reaches the Democratically controlled Senate.

That said, this week, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives, largely from the Northeast, released a bill that would “lower costs for renewable fuel standard compliance and fund domestic advanced biofuel sources.” If enacted, the Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production & Independence Act would allow refiners to purchase compliance credits for biofuel blending at a set price, rather than purchasing them on the market. The goal is to mitigate some of the spiking costs associated with compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) says “is threatening our Nation’s refining capacity” The path forward for this bill is unclear, but bipartisan support is certainly beneficial in a divided Congress.