The Senate and House are both in session this week.
Breaking: An East Coast public land transfer bill may be introduced as early as Tuesday. This legislation, from Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.), would transfer thousands of acres of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, Massachusetts. This proposal is being put forth as a possible solution to an ongoing dispute between the refuge and several local elected officials. Public lands advocates prefer to resolve the disagreement with a formal agreement between the parties, or perhaps through litigation that can determine the legal legitimacy of the dispute. These alternatives would avoid setting the dangerous precedent of transferring federal public lands to the states through a legislative decision. The Senate is not expected to introduce companion legislation.
The Senate passed a water projects bill with big benefits for the Everglades last week, and now the House must do the same before talks move forward. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) indicated last week that the House might consider its version of “The Water Resource Development Act” (WRDA) sometime before Friday. However, it looks as though that timeline has slipped, leaving just a six weeks or so after the elections for House passage and the conference process.
The Senate cleared its WRDA package, which would authorize Everglades restoration and provisions to improve habitat connectivity, on a hugely bipartisan vote count of 95-3. The House version of the bill does not currently match the Senate version’s provisions on using nature-based infrastructure, like wetlands and reefs, over manmade structures—so that will come up in conference.
It looks like a short-term funding mechanism, which would last until Dec. 9, could be a go. The Senate will begin consideration of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 9. Senate leadership decided to use “The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act” (H.R. 5325) as the legislative vehicle to move the CR. Disagreements about Zika funding, Planned Parenthood, Internet regulation, disaster relief provisions for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Flint, Michigan, persist, but Senate leaders seem confident that the deal will be cleared this week, and then senators will head home for an early October recess. We expect the House will stay in session until next week, then both chambers will remain in their respective states until November 14, after the general elections.
What else we’re tracking:
Tuesday, September 20
The merging of seed and farm-chemical industries will be discussed in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Wednesday, September 21
Greenhouse gas emissions guidance by the Council on Environmental Quality will be debated at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mitigation policy will be reviewed in a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife hearing.
The federal government’s management of wolves will be deliberated in House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing.
Public land legislation, including Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-Utah) Public Lands Initiative bill will be discussed in a House Natural Resources Committee mark-up.
Thursday, September 22
A public land legislation mark-up is slated to continue in the House Natural Resources Committee.
Senate public land legislation is also on the docket in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
Chesapeake Bay conservation will be discussed at a House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing.
Economic fuel standards will be deliberated in a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and Energy and Power hearing.
U.S. National Park Service management will be considered in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
Regulation guidelines for agencies will be discussed in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management hearing.