Washington Policy and Regulatory Updates
Our ENS Federal Report provides a summary and the status on select legislative and regulatory actions.
We normally issue a Report when both Chambers are in session
ENS Federal Report
September 30, 2022
Government Shutdown Avoided Setting Stage for Busy Post Election Session
The temporary demise of Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) effort to attach permitting reform language into the stopgap spending bill gave a green light for the Senate and House to move swiftly and pass a short-term spending bill. The bill will continue governmental operations until December 16. The measure is a “clean” bill, providing only a handful of special funding needs including $12 billion for another tranche of Ukraine military assistance.
Upon Senate passage, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the Senate would recess until November 14. The decision reverses earlier threats to call the Senate back to work during the first two weeks of October to debate and pass the National Defense Authorization Act. This means that both chambers’ members will be on the political hustings making the case for political control of the House and Senate during the next six weeks.
Lame Duck Agenda Chock Full of Issues
As the members leave Washington, they leave behind several unresolved legislative issues that must be reconciled before Congress adjourns for the year. In addition to finalizing an omnibus fiscal year 2023 spending bill, there remains passage of the Water Resources Development Act, permitting reforms to expedite approval of fossil and renewable energy projects, the National Defense Authorization Act, PFAS cleanup, drought assistance, emergency assistance to address wildfire and hurricane disasters, cyber security enhancements, and a variety of “cats and dogs” bills that are usually considered during the twilight hours at the end of the congressional session.
Lame Duck Sessions are unpredictable and notoriously known for more promise than performance. This year’s prospects are likely to be governed by the mid-term election results. Should Senate and House control switch to the Republicans, the likelihood of substantial legislative achievement is difficult to imagine given the slim majorities in both chambers and the prospect that a new incoming majority would seek to delay decisions on all but the most vital legislation. This could include final passage of fiscal year 2023 spending bills, WRDA and NDAA. However, should only one chamber’s control switch parties, the prospect to “clear the decks” and start fresh in 2023 when the new Congress convenes might enhance resolution of a range of pending bills.
Reports and Regulation
USEPA Finalizes Environmental Justice Action Plan for Land Protection and Clean Up – Press release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the announcement that it finalized its “EJ Action Plan: Building Up Environmental Justice in EPA’s Land Protection and Cleanup Programs.”
Report on Stewardship Effort Between BLM and USFS – Congressional Research Service report on the end result of the stewardship contract between Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to better management of protection of forests and lands.
Congress Next Week
Congress is on recess until November 14. Federal updates will be provided as appropriate.