Your Congress in Action: Vol. 10

08/06/2020 2:22 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

  • The House passed a $3-trillion pandemic relief bill. Their bill includes a continuation of the $600/week unemployment benefits, which expired last Friday. Senate Republicans have balked at efforts to extend unemployment benefits. On Monday, they presented a $1-trillion proposal. The New York Times provided an analysis of the main differences between the two bills: view the article here.
    • President Trump floated the idea of a payroll tax cut, but it wasn't embraced by either party. The administration has since been exploring the idea of using executive orders to suspend the payroll tax and extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits. 
    • So far, there is no agreement on critical issues like funding for state and local governments, monies for the 2020 election, funds for schools to reopen, and other hot-button topics. Negotiations are ongoing between the House, Senate, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.
  • Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) have introduced the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act (S. 4431). The bill  grant broad authority to federal agencies to push fuels reduction projects, create a new center providing training on prescribed fire and allow projects to proceed while agencies consult over species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Environmental groups have opposed the bill, stating that it does little to minimize risk to communities and further limits the public process in in forest management decisions. Read more in the Missoula Current, and read the statement from the Center for Biological Diversity here
  • Following the legal battle that saw the court suspend the use of Nationwide Permit 12, the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to to separate oil and gas pipelines from its streamlined permits for utilities. More information on the impacts of this proposal is available in E&E News
  • The National Law Review has shared an article on how a potential change in the administration could affect environmental compliance:
    While U.S. national elections are still three months away and inauguration day isn’t for well over six months, current national and battleground state polling suggests that a change in Administration seems more likely than not. Companies asking themselves how to maximize their readiness for a change should consider looking closely at their environmental compliance efforts.

    The challengers’ presumptive nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, has offered expansive ideas on addressing climate change and on other environmental programs, most of which will take months or years to bring to fruition through legislation or regulation, if at all. One opportunity for pursuing enhanced environmental protection and a visible separation from the current Administration available to a new President on the day he takes office, however, would be a directive to acting officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal environmental agencies to ramp up their environmental enforcement efforts under existing environmental laws. Numerous articles have pointed to a slowdown in new enforcement actions and to declining penalties and other enforcement metrics in recent years. And, indeed, presumptive nominee Biden has specifically criticized sharply declining criminal environmental prosecutions under the current Administration.

    Read the full article here.

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