Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of November 7, 2016
Congressional Outlook

Week of November 7th

The House and Senate are in recess for one more week, with the House returning Monday, November 14 and the Senate returning Tuesday, November 15. The only must-pass item on the agenda for the remainder of the 114th Congress is wrapping up the 11 remaining appropriations bills to fund federal government agencies and programs for the balance of the 2017 fiscal year (i.e., through Sept. 30, 2017), in order to avert a government shutdown. This will likely be done through an omnibus, but if an agreement can't be reached on a massive spending package, another Continuing Resolution (CR) may be necessary.  The dynamics of those negotiations likely rest heavily on the outcome of the election this Tuesday.   While Hillary Clinton holds a slim national lead in the presidential race and Republicans appear ready to defend their House majority, the Senate is up for grabs. All eyes will be on contests in Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, while contests in Ohio and Colorado - two others that were supposed to be competitive - seem to have broken for incumbent Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).
There are numerous other issues Congress will consider when it returns for the four-week "lame-duck" session in November and December, including (1) the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 House-Senate Conference Committee (H.R. 5303/S. 2848); (2) the Energy Policy Modernization Act House-Senate Conference Committee ( S. 2012); (3) the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) House-Senate Conference Committee (H.R. 4909S. 2943); (4) the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6); (5) a tax extenders package for more than 30 tax provisions set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016, including those ranging from renewable energy and energy conservation, to provisions affecting homeowners and their mortgages, rum producers, and owners of race tracks and race horses; (6) additional emergency aid for states negatively impacted by severe flooding in 2016 and funding for opioid addiction prevention; (7) a package of bills to overhaul the criminal justice system; and (8) various foreign policy issues, including extending sanctions authorities on Iran, which expire on Dec. 31, 2016, and amending the newly passed Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which allows the family members of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts.
In the lame-duck, both parties will likely choose their leaders for the next Congress. While Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has a lock on becoming the next Senate Democratic leader,   a scuffle could ensue   for the whip position between incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. Republicans are tentatively scheduled to vote   on their leaders for the next Congress on November 15, despite efforts from GOP hard-liners to delay the vote until next year. Top Republicans   are working to tamp down dissent   against Speaker Paul Ryan within the House GOP conference.
Week in Review

Obama Administration Highlights Opportunities for Building Community Climate Resilience across the Nation
On October 31, the Obama Administration announced that the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience had released its "Opportunities to Enhance the Nation's Resilience to Climate Change" report, describing key Administration accomplishments and highlighting opportunities for Federal agencies and stakeholders to work together on a shared climate resilience agenda. The report "builds on lessons learned and outlines three major areas where opportunities exist for innovation, economic growth, and collaboration: through application of science-based data and tools, support for community resilience initiatives, and integration of climate resilience into Federal agency missions, operations, and culture." One of the opportunities identified in the report is working with stakeholders to enhance the usability of climate information. The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy announced the launch of a public-private collaboration designed to address this need; the Resilience Dialogues, an online, consultative service to support communities in their resilience planning, will enable community leaders to engage in facilitated, expedited, and tailored discussion with scientists, practitioners, and other subject-matter experts and will also help communities identify their climate risks and navigate information that will empower them to better prepare and adapt. A full list of participating organizations may be found here. The report also identifies the opportunity to encourage comprehensive preparedness, including by increasing resilient design and construction. In support of this goal, the Administration announced a coalition of 97 colleges, universities, associations, and academic centers  around the country that are committing to ensure that the next generation of design professionals are prepared to design and build for extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change. 
Obama Administration Announces New Actions to Accelerate The Deployment of Electrical Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure
On November 3, the Obama Administration announced a series of actions regarding a continued partnership between the Administration, states, localities, and the private sector to achieve goals related to "ensur[ing] that electric vehicle drivers have access to charging stations at home, at work, and on the road - creating a new way of thinking about transportation that will drive America forward." These shared goals include:
  • For the first time, the United State Department of Transportation (DOT) is establishing 48 national electric vehicle charging corridors on our highways, these newly designated electric vehicle routes cover nearly 25,000 miles, in 35 states.
  • 28 states, utilities, vehicle manufactures, and change organizations are committing to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure on the DOT's corridors; 
  • 24 state and local governments are committing to partner with the Administration and increase the procurement of electric vehicles in their fleets;
  • The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is conducting two studies to evaluate the optimal national electric vehicle charging deployment scenarios, including along DOT's designated fueling corridors; and 
  • 38 new businesses, non-profits, universities, and utilities are signing on to DOE's Workplace Charging Challenge and committing to provide EV charging access for their workforce.
Congressional Schedule

There are no scheduled hearings this week as the House and Senate are in recess.