Analysis by Energy Workforce SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley
Appearing on the Sunday shows, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw some new bumps into the road forward on the infrastructure package. She stated that while House Democrats are “rooting for the infrastructure bill to pass,” she reiterated her pledge that the House will not take it up unless the Senate also passes a separate $3.5 trillion social spending package. The continued reiteration of this policy is causing serious heartburn for many potential Republican supporters.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), key to overall support of the bipartisan deal, expressed his concerns with Pelosi’s comments on the Sunday shows by saying her statements are “entirely counter to what President Biden has committed to” and “inconsistent with the agreement we have on a bipartisan basis.” He further warned that if Pelosi “has her way we could” end up with nothing.
Senate negotiators are still working out the final details of the bipartisan package, which would include nearly $600 billion in new spending. Portman said Sunday that the group is “90 percent of the way there” but that transit remains an outstanding issue. Many Republicans have been arguing that the transit number should go down from the current 20% framework, as many transit programs have received significant funding in the COVID relief packages. The two sides still appear to be far away from each other’s positions on this topic.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a key negotiator of the deal, confirmed that the transit issue is still holding things up. “There are still some other broad issues as well,” she added, “and there are minor issues throughout.”
In addition, President Biden is working to shore up support for the package on the Democratic side. He met with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), the lead Democratic negotiator on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, on Tuesday of this week. Her vote is key along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Both moderate Senators have yet to publicly endorse the prospect of moving both the bipartisan infrastructure package and the remaining priorities as part of a reconciliation package in order to avoid the need for a 60-vote margin.
Secretary Deb Haaland Heads Back to the Hill
Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland headed back to the Hill to testify before the Senate Energy Committee on Tuesday to go over Interior’s budget request for fiscal year 2022. Of particular importance to our sector is Interior’s actions in regards to the moratorium of new leasing for oil and gas for both offshore and onshore. The moratorium has been in place since January, and it has been over five weeks since Interior was ordered by a federal judge in Louisiana to resume lease sales. We have yet to see any action in response to the order.
Meanwhile, Interior has indicated for many months that it plans to release a detailed report on the leasing ban and a plan for moving forward. However, we have yet to see this report. The Council will continue to push the administration for action on this issue as we move forward.
For more information on the Council’s advocacy efforts or to get involved, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.
Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs & Counsel, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, Council activities and more.