Congressional Update

This week, the House GOP decided to put a few miles on its new majority, taking up a massive energy package, H.R. 1, and contemplating the rolling back of President Biden’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulations. H.R. 1, which was introduced on Tuesday, would, according to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), do two things: (1) restore American energy leadership and (2) make it easier to build stuff in America. The Speaker noted that the U.S. must be able to streamline permitting while protecting the environment. Unfortunately for House Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said that the bill is “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

The WOTUS piece, however, may be a slightly different story. Led by Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) in the Senate, and passed in the House, Republicans – along with Democrat Joe Manchin (D-WV)—may have a better shot at rolling back President Biden’s regulation under the Congressional Review Act. If successful, the regulations would revert to the rule in place when this one was adopted, which was a WOTUS rule put in place by President Trump. This would be typical. However, this would not be typical since President Trump’s WOTUS rule is currently on pause in litigation. As a result, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox has stressed this would cause unintended consequences, effectively rolling it back to a 2015 Obama-era rule which was even stricter than the Biden version the GOP seeks to eliminate. Still, with Joe Manchin on board and Democrats John Fetterman (D-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) currently unavailable for votes, the bill could find a majority (albeit, not a filibuster proof one). Still, President Biden has threatened to veto any repeal effort. And even if it were to pass, it is unlikely there is a veto-proof majority for the recission.

While much of this week’s action was at least somewhat partisan, not everything that happens in DC is, as Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) re-introduced legislation that would allow veterans to use the GI bill funding to attend Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) programs at branches of CDL schools. Under current law, if an approved CDL school opens a second location for a certification program, those would not qualify for GI bill funding for two years. This would expedite that process, by ensuring CDL schools that offer courses at new branches do not have to wait two years if the primary institution has been approved by the VA and State Approving Agencies to receive GI benefits.

Additionally, Joe Goffman, the nominee for the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, responded to Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) follow up confirmation hearing question regarding EPA’s proposed rulemaking to revise vapor recovery requirements for gasoline bulk plants. The question impressed that EPA “significantly underestimated the economic impact of the proposed rule on small businesses and on the availability of gasoline in rural areas” and asked how he would address these impacts if confirmed. Mr. Goffman said that “the EPA is currently reviewing the comments received on the proposal for Subpart BBBBBB NESHAP Bulk Gasoline terminals, and the concerns you cited were raised in the comments. EPA will consider all timely comments and potential impacts as it prepares a final rule. EPA anticipates issuing a final rule by August 30, 2023.