This Week in Washington – October 3, 2011
The House and Senate have another Continuing Resolution (CR) on the agenda that would fund the federal government into next month. The House will consider a measure aimed at over regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Senate will debate a bill addressing China’s currency and trade issues. The Super Secret Committee marches on behind closed doors to cut a deal on $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years.
The President is expected to keep pushing his so called jobs bill, yet the evidence from his own Administration proves that each job created is costly for the taxpayer. Watch this week for the rhetoric of class warfare to heat up as desperate Obama Administration officials try to reverse terrible approval ratings. Real Clear Politics has the President at 43% approval and 52% disapproval.
The House kicks off the week with 7 votes on the Suspension Calendar on Monday. The bills are H.R. 686 (Utah National Guard Readiness Act), H,R, 765 (a bill dealing with ski areas), H.R. 489 (a Dept. of Interior jurisdiction bill), H.R. 473 (Access to land for Scouts bill), H.R. 470 (power allocation bill), H.R. 670 (land bill), and S. Con. Res. 29 (authorizing use of rotunda for event). On Tuesday, the House will vote on the CR and a rule setting up debate for later in the week on H.R. 2681 (Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act) and H.R. 2250 (EPA Regulatory Relief Act). One other item expected to be voted this week is H.R. 1343 (a bill to return unused Stimulus money to Treasury).
On Tuesday at 10am, the House Judiciary Committee will have an important hearing on the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). It is important for conservatives to watch the debate in the House closely. The strong versions introduced in the House by Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) seem to have been tossed aside for a so called “clean BBA.” Both Walsh and Goodlatte introduced a measure that forces a balanced budget and requires supermajority roll call votes to increase taxes and to breach a constitutional spending limit. These versions were similar to a strong version in the Senate, introduced by both Sens. Hatch (R-UT), S.J. Res. 10, and McConnell (R-KY), S.J. Res. 23.
A “clean BBA” removes provisions that make it hard to raise taxes and spend more federal cash. In an effort to pick up votes, some in the House want to toss aside the supermajority requirements to raise taxes and the requirement that the government can only spend a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. This squishy idea of a new “Clean BBA” is not being introduced so that a BBA can pass the House,is merely is being rolled out in an effort to pick up a few votes of Democrats. Conservatives need to hold the line and make sure that the House does not forever kill the effort to pass a strong BBA in an effort to pass a version of the BBA that might lead to mandatory tax increases in the name of debt reduction.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on 6 judges today and spend the remainder of the week on S. 1619, a China Currency bill officially known as “the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act.” This measure is controversial because many free trade minded Members of Congress worry about kicking 0ff a new trade war. They also worry that this measure may harm the economy by hiking prices for consumers of Chinese goods and companies that use Chinese products to manufacture other goods. Members who still oppose free trade with Communist China are ok with trade sanctions. There will be a split in the conservative movement.
The Obama Administration tossed the American people on the hook for billions in loan guarentees for struggling solar energy companies late last week. According to one analyst, this investment will produce some job creation to the tune of $20 million per job. This calculation was done after a billion dollar loan day last Wednesday.
The Energy Department on Wednesday approved federal loan guarantees for two green energy projects totaling more than $1 billion. It approved $337 million for a Mesquite Solar project in Arizona and $737 million for a Solar Reserve project in Nevada. The projects would create a total of 52-55 permanent jobs, according to earlier DOE figures and company statements. That’s about $20 million per permanent job.
On Friday, the last day for DOE to put up loan guarantees for alternative energy programs pursuant to the Obama Stimulus bill, the Obama Administration pushed another $4.8 billion in loan guarantees out the door. This was a $ 6 billion dollar week for the solar industry in the wake of a massive scandal for Obama’s favored solar panel company Solyndra.
From Solar Energy News:
On the last day of its 1705 loan guarantees program, the US Department of Energy finalized support packages for four major solar projects on Friday, totaling almost $4.8 billion. US Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed awards for three huge solar power plants in California, and a “transformational” project installing solar panels on 750 warehouse rooftops. $1.46 billion in partial guarantees when to the 550MW Desert Sunlight project, a $1.237 billion guarantee for the 250MW California Valley Solar Ranch project, and a $646 million for the 230MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch project.
This week in Washington, conservatives need to watch the debate over the BBA, loan guarantees and trade policy.