Legislative Update, Washington Highlights and the Upcoming week by Congressman Allen West

Legislative Update

– Continuing Resolution — On Tuesday, the House approved H.R. 2608, a Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide short-term appropriated funding for discretionary government operations through November 18, 2011, by a vote of 352-66, I VOTED YES. H.R. 2608 would provide $1.043 trillion in appropriated funding for government operations. This is the same funding level required under budget caps contained in the Budget Control Act and represents a 1.5 percent cut from Fiscal Year 2011. Compared to 2010 spending levels ($1.089 trillion), this CR would represent a cut of $46 billion. The bill would provide $2.65 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) in 2012. H.R. 2608 would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide a full accounting of disaster relief funding requirements for Fiscal Year 2012 no later than 15 days after the date of enactment of the legislation.

– Cement Sector Regulatory Relief — On Thursday, the House approved H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, by a vote of 262-161, I VOTED YES. The bill would provide a legislative stay of three Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards that apply to cement manufacturing plants. These rules have been referred to as the “Cement MACT rules.” A recent study by the Portland Cement Association concluded that the EPA’s new Cement MACT regulations threaten to shut down 18 plants – almost 20 percent of the domestic industry. According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, increased construction costs resulting from rising cement prices could lead to the loss of 12,000 to 19,000 construction jobs. H.R. 2681 would also allow for the implementation of effective regulation that protects communities both environmentally and economically through new rules that would be both technically and economically achievable – to prevent plant shut downs and job losses.

Upcoming Week

– EPA Regulatory Relief — The House will continue consideration of H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011. The bill would provide a legislative stay of four interrelated Environmental Protection Agency rules, commonly referred to as the “Boiler MACT rules,” that govern emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from approximately 200,000 boilers and incinerators nationwide. EPA officials have estimated that the capital cost of implementing these rules will be $9.5 billion, but a recent study prepared by IHS Global Insight puts the figure at $20 billion.

Free Trade Agreements — The House is expected to consider the three long-pending, job-creating free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements would increase exports, lower the trade deficit and stimulate much-needed U.S. economic growth. Passing all three pending trade agreements would directly benefit small and medium-sized enterprises and the U.S. jobs they create.

– Other trade programs — The House is expected to consider H.R. 2832, which would extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The GSP program is the largest U.S. trade preference program and provides trade preferences to over 130 countries. Many U.S. companies source raw materials and other inputs from GSP countries, and the duty-free treatment of these imports reduces the production costs for these U.S. manufacturers, making them more competitive.

– Federal funding of abortion — The House is expected to consider H.R. 358, which would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to incorporate permanent, bill-wide statutory language to prevent federal funding for abortion or abortion coverage through any program authorized or appropriated by the PPACA. The bill would also protect the right of conscience for health care professionals by codifying and ensuring that private insurance companies are not mandated to cover abortion.

Coal Ash — The House is expected to consider the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011. The EPA has proposed rules to regulate coal combustion residuals (CCR) as hazardous waste, placing excessive uncertainty on the coal ash recycling industry when these materials do not even meet EPA’s own standards for toxicity. This overregulation would destroy jobs in the emerging byproducts industry and a potential 25 percent increase in costs to consumers.

Washington Highlights

Monday, 3 October, Hosted and addressed a Conservative Women’s luncheon with special guests Congresswoman Diane Black and RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day, addressed the Lincoln Clubs of Northern California, San Diego, and Orange County, attended a policy briefing with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, and attended a House Armed Services Committee briefing with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Tuesday, 4 October, Interviewed on C-SPAN Washington Journal- full interview here, House Armed Services Committee full committee meeting assessing 10 years post 9-11 with former Service Chiefs testifying, hosted meeting with FAA Administrator Babbitt and representatives from Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport and Nova Southeastern University on local issues, attended classified briefing on Al Qaeda operations, delivered the benediction address at the Center for Security Policy “Keeper of the Flame” award dinner.

Wednesday, 5 October, Spoke to the Board of Regents of the Center for Security Policy on pressing national security issues, met with the new Army Chief of Legislative Liaison, Major General Ben Hodges, attended Small Business Committee hearing on Department of Labor/National Labor Relations Board decision, rules, and regulations affecting small businesses.

Thursday, 6 October, Attended the Army Caucus breakfast with Secretary of the Army McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army General Odierno, met with the author of a book on Frederick Douglass Republicans, K. Carl Smith, attended a Small Business sub-committee hearing on subcontracting challenges for small businesses.

Friday, 7 October, Conducted several interviews and meetings in office.

Saturday, 8 October, Hosted a carbohydrate upload dinner for the Ft Lauderdale running team visiting Washington for the Army Ten Miler race.

Sunday 9 October, Ran my first ever Army Ten Miler race in Washington with 30,000 runners and I finished within my desired time of just under 1 hr 30 minutes!
See more of my comments here.

Monday 10 October, Recuperated from killing myself during the Army Ten Miler.  Happy Columbus Day.

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