Date: 10/23/1995 08:54 am (Monday)
From: PATRICIA SCOTT
BALLA","JIM BUTCH","MEL COTE", . . .
Subject: LEGIS UPDATE
Legislative Update - Week of October 16
The top order of business in the House and Senate is passing the
Budget Reconciliation Act and FY '96 spending bills. The Budget
Reconciliation package, an omnibus bill that will include a major
overhaul of Medicare, seeks to balance the budget in seven years.
The bill is also likely to include some major changes in farm
policies. The House and Senate are looking to cut some $13.4 to
$13.6 billion from farm programs over the next seven years. The
GOP leadership has, however, encountered some stiff opposition
from Southern Republicans, so it is unclear what the final
reconciliation package will look like.
The House GOP leadership may include in reconciliation Rep. Dick
Chrysler's (R-MI) bill, which calls for a rapid dismantling of
the Commerce Department. His proposal consolidates NOAA with a
proposed new Bureau of Standards to form a new National Institute
for Standards and Technology.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that because the GOP
leadership is so far behind its schedule to pass the budget
reconciliation package and the FY 96 spending bills, Congress
may be forced to pass another continuing resolution to keep the
government running after the November 13 deadline when the
current continuing resolution expires. Congress may also try to
pass a short- term extension of the debt ceiling over the next
few weeks. It is unclear at this point whether there will be a
showdown over the budget and debt ceiling. The President has
threatened to veto the budget reconciliation act and a number of
appropriations bills, including the VA, HUD and Independent
Agencies bill that funds EPA.
The House and Senate conference to reconcile the differences in
the House and Senate-passed VA, HUD and Independent Agencies
Appropriations bills has not yet been scheduled. According to an
Appropriations Committee aide, it will likely occur next week.
Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH), the Ranking Minority Member of the
House Appropriations Subcommittee, is expected to offer a motion
to instruct the conferees to eliminate all the legislative
riders. While passage of such an amendment would not be legally
binding, it would be very symbolic and strengthen the hands of
the conferees opposed to the riders. (When the House passed its
original version of the HUD, VA and Independent Agencies bill
back in September, a Stokes/Sherry Boehlert (R-NY) amendment to
delete all the riders narrowly passed, but was reversed during a
second vote on the amendment).
Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Reauthorization
Rep. Jim Saxton's bill, H.R. 1965, to reauthorize the Coastal
Zone Management Act, unanimously passed out of the House
Resource Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans on
Wednesday. No amendments were offered during markup. The bill is
supported by the Administration and has 115 cosponsors. The
bill, however, must now go before the full Resources Committee,
chaired by Congressman Don Young (R-AK).
H.R. 1965 does not address $ 6217. It authorizes some $64
million in State CZMA grants in FY 96 increasing up to $76
million in FY 2002. It also extends financial assistance for
Management Development Grants through FY '99 to assist States
still developing CZMA programs.
In the Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill, the House
appropriated $41 million and the Senate $46.6 million for CZMA in
Senators Launch Faircloth (R-NC) and Bennett Johnston (R-LA) are
reportedly encountering faltering support for their bill S. 851,
the Wetlands Regulatory Reform bill, which seeks to overhaul the
$ 404 program. A Sept. 21 letter from Administrator Browner to
all Senators, which cited the results of nationwide field tests
using the new wetland definition in the bill, apparently had
significant impact on a number of Senators. The letter said
that the bill's changes to the wetland criteria would eliminate
from CWA protection some 60 to 75 percent of the nation's
wetlands. After receiving the Browner letter, Senator Byron
Dorgan (D-ND) asked that his name be removed as a cosponsor of S.
851. At the request of Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), a tentatively
scheduled markup of S. 851 was indefinitely postponed, and it is
unclear at this point what next steps the committee is planning.
In the House, the Agriculture Committee is reportedly considering
wetlands reform language, possibly from H.R. 961 in its upcoming
reauthorization of the farm bill.
The Agriculture Appropriations bill, H.R. 1976, passed both the
House and Senate last week and is expected to be signed by the
President. The bill includes $77 million for the Wetlands
Reserve Program and maintains the current cap of 100,000 new
acres allowed to be enrolled in the program. Also, the bill
stipulates that no new acres will be allowed to enter the
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which pays farmers to idle
environmentally sensitive land. The bill funds the CRP at $1.7
billion ($144.5 million less than the President's request).
Action on Safe Drinking Water Act
Administrator Browner testified yesterday on Sen. Kempthorne's
(R-ID) Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) reauthorization, which was
introduced last week. When the bill was introduced,
Administrator Browner gave it qualified support, calling it "an
acceptable framework and a step in the right direction."
Kempthorne worked hard to obtain bipartisan support for the
measure, and Democrats Max Baucus (D-MT) and Harry Reid (D-NV)
are original cosponsors of the measure (although both reportedly
had some reservations about the bill).
Sen John Chafee hopes to put the SDWA bill on a very fast track.
After Thursday's hearing, Chafee hopes to have the bill marked up
by the end of the month, followed by a floor vote in early
November. Some environmental groups have criticized the bill for
not going far enough to protect public health. They specifically
criticized the bill for making source water protection voluntary
rather than mandatory and for giving too much enforcement
authority to the states.
The bill includes new risk assessment language for the standard
setting process, more monitoring flexibility for states and an
authorization of a new SDWA revolving loan fund.
H.R. 2275, a bill by Congressmen Don Young (R-AK) and Richard
Pombo (R-CA), to significantly overhaul the Endangered Species
Act was reported out of the House Resources Committee last week.
The bill redefines the definition of an illegal "taking" to
include only direct actions against a protected species so as not
to include habitat modification and compensates landowners whose
property is diminished by 20 percent or more as a result of any
action related to the ESA. Sen. Kempthorne is expected to
introduce an ESA rewrite in the Senate this week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Orrin Hatch
(R-UT), held a hearing yesterday on S. 605, Bob Dole's (R-KS)
Omnibus Private Property Rights bill.
New Environmental Task Force Created By Speaker
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) has asked Rep. Sherry Boehlert
(R-NY) to head up a new task force to help facilitate differences
between moderate and conservative Republicans on environmental
Senate Meetings conducted on CWA and wetlands
Bob Perciasepe Meetings with Senators
Connie Mack (R-FL)
John Warner (R-VA)
Bob Kerrey (D-NE)
Frank Launtenberg (D-NJ)
Bob Graham (D-FL)
John Breaux (D-LA)
Barbara Milkulski (D-MD)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Bob Perciasepe Meetings with Senate Staff
Christopher Bond (R-MO) - Tracy Heinke and Brian Klippenstein
William Cohen (R-ME) - Dave Wilby
Mark Hatfield (R-OR) - Doug Pahl
Jim Jeffords (R-VT) - Ken Connolly
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) - Kathy Lacey
Robert Byrd (D-WV) -Martin McBroom
OW Water Team Meetings with Senate Staff
William Roth (R-DE) - Ashley Miller
Joe Lieberman (D-CT) - Joyce Rechtschaffen (coastal issues and
Bill Bradley (D-NJ) Ruth Fleischer
Kent Conrad (D-ND)- Kirk Johnson
Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) - Todd Atkinson
James Exon (D-NE)- Phil Karsting
Wendell Ford (D-KY) - Kim Keeney
Ernest Hollings (D-SC) - Joe Lesesne
Sam Nunn (D-GA)- Matthew Sikes
Tom Harkin (D-IA) - Don Wiberg
Chuck Robb (D-VA) - Nicole Venable and Jennifer Ney
Richard Bryan (D-NV) - Brent Heberlee
Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) - David Blair
The following meetings have been scheduled with Senate staff for
Dale Bumpers (D-AR)
Tom Daschle (D SD)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
David Pyror (D-AR)
A meeting has also been scheduled for Monday, November 13 at 3 pm
with Max Baucus's staff to talk about tribal/CWA issues (room 456