Senate To Take Up Short-Term Highway Funding Bill

Martin J. Milita Jr. Esq., senior director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, comments on: Senate and Highway Funding Bill

Washington-based Duane Morris Government Strategies (DMGS) supports the growth of organizations, companies, communities and economies through a suite of government and business consulting services. The firm offers a range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant writing; development finance consulting, media relations management, grassroots campaigning and community outreach. Milita works at the firm’s New Jersey offices.

Senate To Take Up Short-Term Highway Funding Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday said that the Senate will take up a short-term highway funding extension to allow time for negotiations on a comprehensive bicameral bill, as the Senate continues debate on its long-term highway funding legislation.

The Senate intends to take up the $8 billion, three-month extension, extending authorization for highway funding through October, if and when it passes the House, allowing for a bicameral conference in September to develop a final long-term highway bill, McConnell told reporters.

The Senate is still set to vote on its own six-year highway funding bill, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy, or Drive, Act, on Thursday, but any final vote will now likely be academic.

McConnell had been scrambling to get the bill through the Senate so it can be considered by the House before lawmakers leave on their summer recess and Highway Trust Fund authorization expires on July 31. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had at first been noncommittal and then bluntly against the bill, as senators adopted an amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Reauthorizing the bank’s charter, which expired at the end of June, has won strong support across both parties in the Senate, but has faced a more hostile reception in the House, amid claims that it supports “corporate welfare.” Instead, McCarthy and other senior House Republicans pushed the Senate to take up a five-month highway funding extension, then the three-month extension put forward late on Monday, to allow the House time to come up with its own long-term highway funding plan and go to conference with the Senate.

The three-month extension, H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act, is expected to get a vote in the House on Wednesday. In addition to $8 billion in funding for the Highway Trust Fund — the same amount that had been in the previous five-month extension — the short-term bill also includes more than $3 billion in emergency funding to prevent a shortfall that may have forced several U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to shutter temporarily.

Negotiators will likely have a lot to discuss before coming up with a final bicameral bill, with the Senate bill having generated significant debate both within and outside Congress, both for some of its policy provisions and for its proposed methods of keeping the Highway Trust Fund full.

The bill is intended to provide six years of funding and authorization for the trust fund, used to reimburse state and local governments for highway and other surface transportation infrastructure spending.

Currently, the trust fund pulls in about $35 billion a year from the federal gasoline tax — a significant sum, but more than $10 billion a year short of the necessary funding, with gas tax revenue having been eaten into by increasing fuel economy standards and inflation. Efforts to raise the gas tax, last increased in 1993, have proven politically unpalatable, so McConnell and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., instead sought to put together a $47 billion package of offsets in the Drive Act that would augment the fund for at least three years.

These would include tweaks to tax enforcement, extensions to Transportation Security Administration fees and government guarantee fees for mortgages underlying mortgage-backed securities, and the indexing of customs user fees to inflation, among other pay-fors.

But several of the proposed offsets have drawn criticism, including the two largest, a proposed sell-off of 100 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and a cut to the interest rate paid by the Federal Reserve on stock that banks are required to purchase to participate in the Fed system, for banks with $1 billion or more in assets.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has slammed the proposed Strategic Petroleum Reserve sell-off as the wrongful use of a strategic asset as a “slush fund,” and representatives from the banking industry have come out against the dividend cut, which would drop the rate paid from 6 percent to 1.5 percent. They argue, among other things, that the interest is needed to compensate for otherwise useful capital being tied up.

This Week In Congress: Continuing Resolution Looms

Martin J. Milita Jr. Esq., senior director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, offers: This Week In Congress: Continuing Resolution Looms

Washington-based Duane Morris Government Strategies (DMGS) supports the growth of organizations, companies, communities and economies through a suite of government and business consulting services. The firm offers a range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant writing; development finance consulting, media relations management, grassroots campaigning and community outreach. Milita works at the firm’s New Jersey office.

This Week In Congress: Continuing Resolution Looms

Iran remains a major focus of congressional scrutiny this week. As established by the Iran Nuclear Review Act (P.L. 114-17), the House and Senate have 60 days to review and consider the multilateral nuclear agreement, reached by international negotiators earlier this month, and ultimately vote for approval or disapproval. The 60-day clock started on July 20, when the administration officially presented the agreement to Congress. After testifying before an intense hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew will appear as witnesses before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning. The House Select Intelligence Committee will also have a closed session on Tuesday to discuss Iran issues, while the House Armed Service Committee will hold a Wednesday hearing on the regional implications of the Iran deal. Congressional Republicans have been highly critical of the terms reached by international negotiators and the Islamic Republic. Press reports indicate Speaker Boehner has stated that the House will do “everything possible” to block the Iran nuclear deal. While House Republicans may have enough votes to pass a resolution of disapproval to block the deal should the majority decide not to support it, Senate Republicans would have to peel off a number of Democrats in order to be able to invoke cloture and pass a disapproval resolution. And if a disapproval resolution can be passed by both chambers, President Obama has pledged to “veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.” It is not clear whether enough Democrats in either the Senate or the House would support an effort to override a presidential veto. One core problem for opponents of the deal in Congress is that the president and his international partners secured United Nations Security Council approval for the deal last week. In effect, the international sanctions that wreaked havoc on the Iranian economy and forced Iran to the negotiating table will come to an end. Even if Congress rejects the deal and can somehow override the president’s veto, which as noted is highly unlikely, the impact of U.S. rejection of the deal will be marginal at best, and Iran has effectively prevailed in vindicating its interests. Whether the deal in fact will make the region safer, only time will tell, and proponents of the deal have the hope of success as their basic argument.

Highway funding remains at an impasse in Congress this week, as the House and Senate continue to debate how to extend funding for the program and for how long that extension should last. The House already passed a five-month extension, but the Senate is attempting passage of a long-term bill. Meanwhile, the July 31 expiration date of the current program is approaching.

The Senate formally proceeded to consideration of a three-year, roughly $40 billion highway bill on Thursday by a vote of 51-26 after a 62-36 vote to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill, and remained in session over the weekend to begin consideration of amendments. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed cloture on two amendments that were offered to the bill on Friday: his own amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act and an amendment by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Even though the House has voted more than 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act in part or in full, the Senate has not gone on record in the 114th Congress to overturn President Obama’s signature law. It is unlikely that the majority leader’s amendment will garner enough support, given that Republicans control 54 seats in the chamber and the amendment would need 60 votes to pass. Conversely, even though several conservative Republican senators oppose reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the Kirk amendment is expected to pass because of strong Democratic support for the agency. The charter of the Export-Import Bank expired at the end of last month, and the highway bill has been viewed as the must-pass vehicle to which the Senate could attach reauthorization language. House leaders oppose the Senate effort to add the reauthorization of the bank to the highway bill, while President Obama is demanding it be included in any highway reauthorization bill sent to him for signature.

House Republican leadership is strongly opposed to the Senate highway bill. The House passed its own bill two weeks ago that would provide for a five-month extension of the current highway program, using $8 billion in offsets, largely from enhanced tax-compliance measures, that will supplement Highway Trust Fund receipts derived from the gas tax. Republican leadership supported the short-term measure, hoping the extension will allow Congress more time to negotiate a longer-term reauthorization before the December deadline contained in the House bill. Should the Senate pass its long-term reauthorization this week, chances for passage in the House are slim. House Republicans and Democrats alike have voiced concerns about the funding offsets currently included in the Senate bill. House conservatives are also opposed to resurrecting the charter for the Export-Import Bank, should it be included in the Senate bill. The Senate may be forced to take up the short-term House extension if a strategy for the long-term bill is not reached, especially given the congressional calendar — the current program has a July 31 deadline and congressional recess is scheduled to begin for the House of Representatives at the end of this week. How House leaders will respond to a two-month extension of the highway program, if that is all the Senate can pass, is unclear at this point. Given that a two-month extension would end concurrent with the end of the fiscal year, given how few days Congress will be in session in September and how much needs to be done to keep the government open past the end of the month, House leaders may continue to insist on their five-month extension of the program. And how the Export-Import Bank fits into the highway dynamic further complicates the discussion. As a result, it should be a very interesting week as House members look to their August recess (the Senate is scheduled to be in session for the first week of August).

The House is scheduled to return on Monday and take up 17 bills under suspension of the rules. More than half these bills are from the Homeland Security Committee, while two each are from the Resources, Judiciary, and Veterans Affairs Committees, with the remaining three bills from other committees. On Tuesday the House is expected to take up H.R. 427, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2015, a bill that aims to increase transparency in the federal regulatory process. The REINS Act would require federal agencies to submit any major rule with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more to Congress for approval before the rule could take effect. This legislation passed the House previously in 2011 and 2013 but it stands no chance of passage in the Senate and is opposed by the president. When debate on the REINS Act is completed, the House will consider H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act, an oversight and reform proposal for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among other provisions, this bill would further curtail employee-appeal rights for VA employees faced with termination. Another veteran’s bill that the House may consider this week prior to the August recess is the VA Budget and Choice Improvement Act, legislation to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a plan to consolidate VA programs that furnish hospital and medical care to veterans at non-VA facilities into a single, new program. Finally, the House floor schedule leaves room for the chamber to consider the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act if the House-Senate conference is able to complete its work on the legislation.

Congressional leaders acknowledged this week what has been clear all along, that efforts to pass appropriations bills to fund the government past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 have failed. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded to reporters last week that Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government when the current fiscal year ends. Speaker Boehner acknowledged that there are limited legislative days on the calendar in September when Congress returns from the August recess, and there is not nearly enough time to wrap up the annual appropriations process in both chambers. Even though the House Appropriations Committee has cleared all 12 of the annual appropriations bills, only half of those bills have been approved by the full House and a seventh bill was pulled from the floor due to a dispute over the Confederate battle flag. The Senate Appropriations Committee has also been successful in marking up the 12 annual bills, but Senate Republicans have been unable to bring a single funding measure to the floor due to a Democratic filibuster focused on the funding levels in the bills. Republican majorities in both chambers worked under the spending limits established in the 2011 sequester, but Senate Democrats have blocked the entire appropriations process due to objections of those spending limits and so-called “budget gimmicks” that increased only defense funding for FY 2016. Further, President Obama has pledged to veto any appropriations measure at current funding levels. Congressional Democrats have been pushing for a bipartisan summit to negotiate a new budget framework, but Republicans have not indicated a willingness to work out a deal to increase the spending caps. Even though a CR will be necessary to avoid a government shutdown this fall, it remains unclear how long the extension will last and how leadership and appropriators in both chambers will come to agreement.

Lastly, cybersecurity legislation is also of interest on Capitol Hill this week. There are two hearings scheduled in the House: the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies meets on Tuesday to discuss best practices and the House Select Intelligence Committee meets Thursday for a hearing on global cybersecurity threats. On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Republican leadership has indicated they would like to bring to the floor the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that would encourage greater exchange of public and private data on hackers, before the recess, once consideration of the highway bill is completed. The House has passed its version of CISA earlier this year.

Martin J. Milita, Jr., Esq. Senior Director

Visit his blog at: https://martinmilita1.wordpress.com

Follow him on twitter: @MartinMilita1

https://www.facebook.com/martin.milita

http://www.dmgs.com/

Finance Panel Gets Early Jump On Renewing Tax Extenders

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved a bill to renew for another two years the package of so-called tax extenders, a collection of more than 50 targeted tax benefits for businesses and individuals.

The committee voted 23-3 in favor of the legislation, which now moves to the Senate floor. Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, said renewing the package, which expired at the end of last year, would give taxpayers more certainty and give lawmakers time to figure out how to extend some of the provisions permanently.

The tax extenders are typically renewed by Congress every one to two years. Lawmakers last renewed the extenders in December, but they expired mere days later. Congress has gotten into the habit of allowing the provisions to expire and then renewing them retroactively at the end of the year so taxpayers can take advantage of them when they file their tax returns the following year.

To avoid endlessly repeating the cycle, some have tried to enact permanent policy for some of the most popular extenders, such as the tax credit for research and development, but they have so far been unsuccessful. Last year, former House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., put together a deal with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that would have permanently extended several of the provisions, but that deal was scuttled by a veto threat from President Barack Obama, who said the deal would not have done enough for the middle class.

In February, the House approved a number of bills permanently renewing provisions such as the research credit and the deduction for state and local sales taxes. The changes are pending in the Senate.

One of the provisions expected to come at the highest cost is an extension of the renewable production tax credit, under which taxpayers can claim a 2.3 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for wind and other renewable electricity. That is expected to cost nearly $10.5 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. At the markup on Tuesday, many Republicans on the committee advocated for phasing out the tax credit, while some Democrats defended it or suggested that incentives for oil and gas production be phased out as well.

The version of the bill passed by the committee contained some small changes introduced by Hatch, including one revenue raiser that would requiring mortgage lenders to provide more information to the Internal Revenue Service to improve compliance. That measure was also included in a bill to pay for an extension of the Highway Trust Fund passed by the House last week.

—By Martin J. Milita, Jr., Esq. Senior Director

Visit his blog at: https://martinmilita1.wordpress.com

Follow him on twitter: @MartinMilita1

https://www.facebook.com/martin.milita

http://www.dmgs.com/

Please feel free to contact the author or your other Duane Morris Government Strategies LLC contact to learn more about this article and what it may mean to you.

About Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC (DMGS):

Comprised of 19 experienced professionals representing U.S. and foreign clients at the federal, state and local levels, DMGS is as an ancillary business of international law firm Duane Morris LLP, one of the 100 largest law firms with more than 700 attorneys in the U.S. as well as in the UK and Asia. The firm operates in eight offices including Newark, NJ; Trenton, NJ; Albany, NY; Harrisburg, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Columbus, OH; and Washington, DC.

DMGS offers a full range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant identification/writing/administration, development finance consulting, procurement, grassroots campaigning, public relations, and crisis planning/crisis management needs. http://www.dmgs.com/

House Considers Sweeping Energy Bill

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a long-awaited comprehensive energy bill late Monday that implicates pipelines, the electric grid and energy efficiency.

The panel’s Energy and Power subcommittee on Wednesday will mark up the 95-page bill that is designed to mirror a similar effort in the Senate.

Republicans and Democrats have thus far avoided loading the bill with partisan provisions that risk derailing the legislation- it steers clear, for example, of calling for an end to the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil, language that might lead many Democrats to reject the bill if it were included.

A committee aide expected broad bipartisan support for the bill when the subcommittee votes. (Credit AP).

Still, the legislation addresses a number of policy areas that have long been simmering on Capitol Hill.

The bill seeks to streamline permitting decisions for interstate natural gas pipelines, a move that proponents say is necessary to ramp up infrastructure that’s failed to keep pace with the boom in shale gas production.

On electric reliability, the bill would give broad discretion to power plants to relax environmental rules “to meet the emergency and serve the public interest” if federal regulators deem electric reliability is severely threatened.

The bill also amends a 1978 federal law by directing electric utilities to develop a plan to withstand power outages, using as smart grid technology to remotely locate and repair problems, distribute power systems and self-sustaining “microgrids,” that exist largely apart from the traditional electric grid, by linking disparate energy sources. The change also implores state regulators to consider approving rate increases so utilities can pass costs onto customers to pay for those investments.

Another provision would give the Energy secretary authority to step in to declare emergency measures when the electric grid is under cyberattack. The move has been long sought by federal regulators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to clear up confusion the locus of authority of the nation’s electric grid infrastructure in such situations.

The nation’s emergency energy supplies and how they’re distributed also would get a revamp, as natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 exposed shortcomings. The bill  calls for submitting a plan to create a “Strategic Transformer Reserve” to place backup electric infrastructure in various locations in case major electric grid assets are damaged, a concern that’s mounted following an armed attack at a San Jose electric substation in 2013.

Lastly, the bill calls for studying regional electricity systems that might inform how best to build new energy infrastructure such as natural gas pipelines and transmission lines to connect renewable power to the grid.

—By Martin J. Milita, Jr., Esq. Senior Director

Visit his blog at: https://martinmilita1.wordpress.com

Follow him on twitter: @MartinMilita1

https://www.facebook.com/martin.milita

http://www.dmgs.com/

Please feel free to contact the author or your other Duane Morris Government Strategies LLC contact to learn more about this article and what it may mean to you.

About Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC (DMGS):

Comprised of 19 experienced professionals representing U.S. and foreign clients at the federal, state and local levels, DMGS is as an ancillary business of international law firm Duane Morris LLP, one of the 100 largest law firms with more than 700 attorneys in the U.S. as well as in the UK and Asia. The firm operates in eight offices including Newark, NJ; Trenton, NJ; Albany, NY; Harrisburg, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Columbus, OH; and Washington, DC.

DMGS offers a full range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant identification/writing/administration, development finance consulting, procurement, grassroots campaigning, public relations, and crisis planning/crisis management needs.

http://www.dmgs.com/

This Week In Congress: Highways & Education

Last week the Armed Services Committee held a confirmation hearing for Marine Corps General Joe Dunford to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The hearing went well, and the committee could seek to consider and report the nomination this week, although no markup is currently scheduled. If General Dunford is reported by the committee, prompt action by the full Senate is possible, though a confirmation vote is more likely next week.

This week, the House returns on Monday and will tackle six bills under suspension of the rules, primarily from the Small Business Committee.

On Tuesday, the House deals with 14 suspension bills, all of them having been reported by the Financial Services Committee. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will tackle H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. The bill provides a response to the drought afflicting the West, especially California, source of much of the country’s food. Of interest to note is the absence on the agenda of the patent-litigation reform bill, H.R. 9. That bill had been included for action this week in Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s planned floor schedule for the month. While a similar bill passed last Congress with 325 votes, the failure to consider the bill as scheduled this week may portend underlying issues with the bill, or it may be due to something as simple as a delay in getting a score from the Congressional Budget Office. Nonetheless, its absence from this week’s schedule is worthy of note.

The Senate resumes consideration on Monday of S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, the bipartisan bill developed by the Education Committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. Last week, the chamber worked its way through amendments to the bill. The chamber’s work on this legislation reflects another instance of Leader Mitch McConnell’s effort to restore regular order to the workings of the body, after several years of dysfunction. This week, the Senate is expected to complete its consideration of the bill. Last week, the House passed its version of the bill to reauthorize the ESEA. Senate passage will allow both chambers to begin the process of reconciling the two bills, which are quite different.

Upon completion of the Every Child Achieves Act, the majority leader has signaled his intention to turn to consideration of the highway bill. The current program, operating under a short-term extension passed earlier in the spring, expires at the end of July and must be renewed. Congress will not go into its August recess, the height of road-building and repair season, without extending the program. As has been the case for many years now, the challenge is figuring out how to pay for the infrastructure programs included in the highway bill. Proposals to raise the gas tax have not won support from Republican leaders in either chamber. The leading proposal has been to use receipts from the repatriation of earnings being held overseas by American companies due to the noncompetitively high U.S. corporate tax rate. This repatriation option has numerous proponents, but many senators want to reserve the funds from a repatriation for broader tax reform. In the face of this stalemate, Leader McConnell has again expressed his expectation that the Senate will have to adopt another short-term renewal, to be paid for from general receipts. Although Democrats have resisted another short-term extension, they are likely to have few viable alternatives.

As has been widely discussed for weeks, the highway bill, which is must-pass legislation, is the likely vehicle for consideration of the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which technically expired at the end of June. In a test vote last month, more than 60 senators voted in favor of extending the bank’s charter. Inclusion of the bank’s reauthorization will make a short-term highway bill more palatable to Democrats in both chambers.

This week committees on both sides of the capitol will hold a number of high-profile hearings. On Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which was supposed to have been achieved by last week but, as of this writing, remains under negotiation. Also on Tuesday, a Foreign Affairs Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the EU Outlook, a topic garnering unusual attention in light of the Greek debt crisis and the potential for Greece to default and be forced out of the Euro. Staying with the Foreign Affairs Committee, two of its subcommittees will hold a hearing on Thursday on U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation.

Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen provides her semi-annual testimony to the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday and to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. Senate Banking also holds an oversight hearing on Wednesday with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson appears before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. On Wednesday, that committee will hear from Howard Shelanski, the director of the little-known but singularly powerful White House Office of Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which oversees the federal government’s regulatory apparatus. The OIRA director also appears before the Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday.

Other hearings of note this week include a two-part hearing on criminal justice reform in the House Oversight Committee, a hearing on radicalization in the House Homeland Security Committee, a hearing on welfare reform in the House Ways and Means Committee, a hearing on the Export-Import Bank in the House Oversight Committee, and a hearing of a Senate Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday looking into international soccer issues, in the wake of the recent indictment of FIFA officials.

On committee’s markup agendas, the House Appropriations Committee will mark up the Homeland Security appropriations bill on Tuesday. The bill contains language that would block any funds from implementing President Obama’s November 2014 executive actions, currently enjoined by the courts, to postpone indefinitely the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally. On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will mark up the highway-safety portion of the highway bill just as the bill is likely to come to the floor.

A list of scheduled committee hearings is included below.

—By Martin J. Milita, Jr., Esq. Senior Director

Visit his blog at: https://martinmilita1.wordpress.com

Follow him on twitter: @MartinMilita1

https://www.facebook.com/martin.milita

http://www.dmgs.com/

Please feel free to contact the author or your other Duane Morris Government Strategies LLC contact to learn more about this article and what it may mean to you.

About Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC (DMGS):

Comprised of 19 experienced professionals representing U.S. and foreign clients at the federal, state and local levels, DMGS is as an ancillary business of international law firm Duane Morris LLP, one of the 100 largest law firms with more than 700 attorneys in the U.S. as well as in the UK and Asia. The firm operates in eight offices including Newark, NJ; Trenton, NJ; Albany, NY; Harrisburg, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Columbus, OH; and Washington, DC.

DMGS offers a full range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant identification/writing/administration, development finance consulting, procurement, grassroots campaigning, public relations, and crisis planning/crisis management needs.

http://www.dmgs.com/

CALENDAR

Monday, July 13, 2015

Senate Committees

Traffic Congestion and Commerce Issues

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Full Committee Field Hearing

July 13, 3:30 p.m., Livingston Parish Council Chamber, 20355 Government Blvd., Livingston, La.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

House Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Homeland Security

House Appropriations

Full Committee Markup

10:15 a.m., 2359 Rayburn Bldg.

Broadband Infrastructure Investment

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

Pipeline Safety

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Energy and Power

Subcommittee Hearing

10:15 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Federal Reserve Oversight

House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

Iran Nuclear Agreement

House Foreign Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Maritime Border Security

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

DHS Oversight

House Judiciary

Full Committee Oversight Hearing

10 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

Seismic Surveying in Outer Continental Shelf

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Federal Land Management Bills

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Federal Lands

Subcommittee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 1334 Longworth Bldg.

Criminal Justice Reforms

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

9:45 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Commercial Weather Data

House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Environment

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

Health Care Measures

House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Health

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Medicare Prescription Drug Program

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

Tunisia Political Assessment

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

European Union Outlook

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2200 Rayburn Bldg.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies; House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications

Subcommittees Joint Hearing

2 p.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Committees

Armed Services Nominations

Senate Armed Services

Full Committee Confirmation Hearing

9:30 a.m., G50 Dirksen Bldg.

Disease Research

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Islanded Energy Systems

Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Intelligence Briefing

Senate Select Intelligence

Full Committee Closed Briefing

2:30 p.m., 219 Hart Bldg.

Small Business Energy Development and Manufacturing

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Full Committee Hearing

2:30 p.m., 428A Russell Bldg.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

House Committees

Land Grant Universities

House Agriculture

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Monetary Policy and Economic Assessment

House Financial Services

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center

U.S. Counterterrorism Assessment

House Homeland Security

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Fracking on Federal Lands

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Criminal Justice Reforms

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

National Weather Service Misconduct Allegations

House Science, Space and Technology

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

Small Businesses’ Drone Use

House Small Business

Full Committee Hearing

11 a.m., 2360 Rayburn Bldg.

VA Employee Disciplinary Issues

House Veterans’ Affairs

Full Committee Markup

10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

VA Unemployability Benefits

House Veterans’ Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

TANF Renewal and Welfare Proposals

House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Human Resources

Subcommittee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

SNAP Strategies

House Agriculture – Subcommittee on Nutrition

Subcommittee Hearing

1:30 p.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

House Judiciary – Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

3 p.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

Tribal Land and Economic Development

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Interior Department Cybersecurity

House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Information Technology; House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on the Interior

Committee Joint Hearing

2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Senate Committees

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Transportation and Consumer Protection Measure

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation

Full Committee Markup

10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Maritime Border Security

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

International Soccer Overview

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security

Subcommittee Hearing

2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Indian Country Juvenile Justice

Senate Indian Affairs

Full Committee Oversight Hearing

2:15 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg.

Diabetes Research

Senate Special Aging

Full Committee Hearing

2:15 p.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

House Committees

U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade

Subcommittees Joint Hearing

9 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Federal Air Marshal Assessment

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Transportation Security

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Committees

Monetary Policy Report

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

2:30 p.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Wildlife Poaching

Senate Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Forest and Timber Issues

Senate Energy and Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining

Subcommittee Hearing

2:45 p.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Regulatory Process

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Intelligence Briefing

Senate Select Intelligence

Full Committee Closed Briefing

Why State Advocacy Matters: An Interview with Duane Morris Government Strategies senior executive Martin Milita, Esq

Kabar Terkini Seputar Kota Tangerang

Not long ago, a study was released showing that states passed 171 immigration laws last year. It provided a sharp contrast to the record in Congress. That got us to thinking about how much action takes place in the state capitals versus on Capitol Hill, so we turned to Martin Milita, Esq., a lawyer and senior lobbyist with Duane Morris Government Strategies for some answers.

According to Mr. Milita, the 113th Congress passed 352 bills and resolutions in 2013 and 2014.

“That represents legislation cleared by both chambers – sometimes in different forms – and not all was signed into law” Milita said.

“By contrast, the legislative bodies in all 50 states and Washington DC passed in excess of 45,564 bills and resolutions in that same period”. “Indeed, fully 38 states and the District of Columbia passed more legislation than Congress did last session”.

Another way of looking at it…

View original post 398 more words

Congress to take up Puerto Rico Bankruptcy?

This week, nothing mattered much beyond Greece. The situation has been well-covered, so no reason to recount the story here.

But, the governor of the island state of Puerto Rico (which is a U.S. territory) told the New York Times that Puerto Rico cannot pay its debts. The government and various agencies risk default this month.

Puerto Rico had two big economic contributors in the past – the U.S. military and favorable tax treatment for pharmaceutical companies operating on the island. Both of these things went away over the past 15 years, leaving the country with a big hole in its economy and a bloated government. The territory ran a deficit in every year since 2007 except one, and yet continues to increase government spending. The government employs roughly 27% of the workforce..

As a territory, the island operates like a state in the U.S., and there’s no provision in the Federal Bankruptcy Code for such an institution to declare bankruptcy. Puerto Rico has been pushing Congress to take up a couple of bills that would allow some of the public agencies on the island to declare bankruptcy, but nothing has happened on that front.

The territory’s constitution explicitly states that it must pay its debt before all other expenses, which includes rent, wages, and pensions. What are the chances that Puerto Rican leaders will send all available cash to bondholders and not pay their workers or retirees?  Zero. Anticipate congressional action after the Fourth of July Holiday.