D.C. Capitol Hill Update: Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Supply Chain, EV Credits, ESG Policies

Last week, Congressional House Republicans moved forward with priority policies – notably legislation that would limit the President’s authority to release oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The legislation, which is being debated on the House floor, would require a plan for increasing drilling leases on federal land before more SPR releases.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-NJ) amendment would ensure that neither funds nor petroleum products go to Iran, China, North Korea, or Russia. The SPR legislation presents the first major amendment debate of the 118th Congress, but many believe the final legislation will receive the necessary support for House passage.

Supply Chain

House members also seek to address supply chain disruptions in the transportation sector.

The U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will hold its first hearing on February 1 to address “The State of Transportation Infrastructure and Supply Chain Challenges.”

Likewise, Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Jim Costa (D-CA) introduced legislation Tuesday that aims to improve the interstate supply chain for trucking with a streamlined licensing process and expanded parking in response to shortage concerns.

The legislation also looks to entice new truckers through temporary tax credits and allow drivers to apply for workforce grants.

EV Tax Credits

Across the Hill, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced legislation (S. 63) that would direct the Treasury department to halt the issuance of new consumer EV tax credits for cars that do not comply with specific battery material sourcing requirements under the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The United States of America cannot be relying on foreign supply chains,” Sen. Manchin told reporters on Tuesday.

            ESG Policies

On Thursday, a group of 25 states filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration, arguing a recent rule allowing retirement plan managers to factor environmental and social issues into investment decisions violated the law.

The lawsuit challenges a Department of Labor (DOL) rule unveiled in November, which is set to go into effect on Jan. 30.

The rule would open the door for fiduciaries to factor so-called environment, social and governance (ESG) considerations into Americans’ retirement accounts, an action the states argued could significantly harm the financial interests of customers.

Along similar lines, Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Rick Allen (R-GA) introduced the Ensuring Sound Guidance Act to require investment advisers and ERISA retirement plan sponsors to prioritize profits over ESG factors.

Around Capitol Hill, it feels as though the 118th Congress has officially kicked off. Committees are finalizing their organization activities, with the House Energy & Commerce Committee announcing subcommittee chairs, which notably includes Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) as the chair of the Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security.

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