The month of January is traditionally a time for new beginnings and resolutions, and America’s New Congress wasted no time in getting to work to keep its promises to the American people. Looking back this month, the House made impressive strides toward creating more American jobs and advancing our energy security by approving three Energy and Commerce Committee bills focused on energy infrastructure. While all of these bills passed the House last Congress, they signal a renewed push to work together to achieve positive results. All three of these bills passed the House with bipartisan support. The House is keeping its resolution to say #Yes2Energy:
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today announced its hearing schedule for the week of February 2. The committee will conduct oversight of the U.S. public health response to seasonal influenza and examine H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act.
On Tuesday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing reviewing the preparedness and treatment efforts surrounding this year’s flu and exploring ways to improve the overall effectiveness of vaccines and anti-viral drugs. In the midst of this year’s severe flu season, members of the subcommittee will examine the relationship between seasonal flu preparedness efforts and our nation’s overall pandemic readiness and response capabilities. Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and National Institutes of Health will testify. The Majority Memorandum and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
On Thursday, the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will examine H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act, authored by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH). H.R. 212 was written in response to a water emergency in Toledo, Ohio last summer when a significant number of harmful algae blooms appeared in Lake Erie. The bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency to develop and submit a strategic plan to Congress for addressing and managing the risks associated with cynaotoxins in drinking water. The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
10AM2123 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on Oversight and InvestigationsHearing on “Examining the U.S. Public Health Response to Seasonal Influenza”
Thursday, February 5, 2015
10AM2123 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on Environment and the EconomyHearing on “H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act”
WASHINGTON – Republican leaders in the House and Senate today sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell amidst growing concerns about the security and privacy of consumer information shared on HealthCare.gov. This letter follows a September 17, 2014, letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding a report from the Government Accountability Office outlining security vulnerabilities on HealthCare.gov. The leaders have not yet received a response to the September request and recent reports raise new questions about the protection of consumer information on HealthCare.gov.
The leaders write, “The administration initially defended its information sharing practices in the wake of these revelations, but in a Saturday, January 24th, evening blog post it acknowledged that at least some of the consumer protection concerns raised about HealthCare.gov are warranted. Specifically, in the blog post, the administration announced that it had taken ‘an additional step to better protect consumers’ information’ … Unfortunately, it is not at all clear that this layer of protection is sufficient.”
Staff conducted an analysis of HealthCare.gov in the wake of these reports and, “it appears that when an individual visits HealthCare.gov, information about that person is shared through an automated process with companies such as Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and Advertising.com. In most instances, this information is shared long after their visit to HealthCare.gov has concluded.”
Furthermore, “Information discovered through staff analysis conducted directly before and after CMS’ January 24th, announcement has also raised questions about whether at least one company with access to HealthCare.gov consumer information is sharing all or some subset of that information with third parties.”
In order to better understand these security and privacy concerns, the leaders have a series of questions and document requests related to the administration’s handling of this most recent HealthCare.gov issue.
Read the complete letter online HERE.
The letter was signed by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation Chairman Rob Portman (R-OH).
By Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
What if someone told you that Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C., worked together to create thousands of new American jobs, reduce the deficit, and contribute billions to our country’s economic growth?
As improbable as that may sound, it happened.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission completed an auction of spectrum – the radio frequencies that transmit the data that fuels our communications and economy – that will be used to expand and improve mobile broadband. Gross bids totaled almost $44.9 billion, making this auction – known as the AWS-3 auction – the highest-grossing spectrum auction in U.S. history.
By any measure, this auction was a resounding success. Winning bids came in about three times higher than analysts had expected, but more important, the revenue generated by the auction will be put to productive and responsible use.
The money will be used to fund FirstNet, the government agency tasked with creating the nation’s first interoperable broadband network for first responders, to finance technological upgrades to our 911 emergency systems, and to contribute over $20 billion to deficit reduction.
In addition, the auction brought 65 Megahertz of spectrum to market to fuel our nation’s mobile broadband networks. The wireless industry estimates that for every 10 Megahertz of spectrum licensed for wireless broadband, 7,000 American jobs are created and U.S. gross domestic product increases by $1.7 billion. Bringing additional spectrum to market also contributes to technological innovation, greater competition, and more consumer choices.
Not long ago, many people said an auction like this couldn’t be done. But both parties in Congress got together in 2012 to pass legislation, which authorized the AWS-3 auction.
The spectrum sold in the auction was originally being used by the U.S. military and other federal agencies before the Act passed. But after the legislation passed, bipartisan congressional and agency staffs worked to develop a plan for how to auction, relocate, and share this valuable federal spectrum without ever jeopardizing critical national security functions at the Pentagon or across the government.
The auction would not have been possible without the collective efforts of a broad range of partners across the government: especially leadership of the congressional commerce committees, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.
But the success story isn’t over yet. Another spectrum boon for consumers and our economy is on the horizon. The law also directs the FCC to hold a first-of-its-kind Incentive Auction: a new, two-sided auction that harnesses market forces to repurpose spectrum voluntarily relinquished by TV broadcasters for wireless broadband.
This “beachfront” spectrum is especially valuable. Since the AWS-3 auction successfully paid for the priorities mandated by Congress, every cent of net revenue from the Incentive Auction – after payments to broadcasters who elect to relinquish spectrum – will go toward deficit reduction.
Something like the Incentive Auction has never been tried before – but neither had anything like the AWS-3 auction. As we’ve seen, that auction’s success is a good sign that bipartisan, collaborative efforts can and do produce positive results for the American people.
We hope to see the same level of dedication, cooperation, and ingenuity as the Commission and its partners work to ensure the Incentive Auction is a success. Bipartisan collaboration across the government is still very possible, and this work will help cement our country’s global leadership in mobile innovation.
Wheeler is the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Walden has represented Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District since 1999. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
To read the column online, click here.
The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), has scheduled a legislative hearing for Thursday, February 5, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act.”
Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act, to help protect drinking water from harmful algae blooms known as cyanotoxins. The legislation was authored in response to a water emergency in Toledo, Ohio last summer caused by the increased presence of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. The bipartisan bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency to develop and submit a strategic plan to Congress for assessing and managing the risk associated with cyanotoxins in drinking water. At next week’s hearing, members will hear perspectives on the bill from the EPA and relevant stakeholders.
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate today approved legislation authorizing the application for the Keystone XL pipeline, following House passage of legislation earlier this month. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) praised the Senate’s passage of the legislation and urged the president to reconsider his veto threat.
"The Senate has spoken up in favor of Keystone’s jobs and energy and we now just need the last domino to fall - the White House. The American people strongly support this project that will create tens of thousands of jobs, advance our energy security, won’t cost taxpayers a dime, and is better for safety and the environment. President Obama should take a cue from the House and the Senate and reconsider his opposition, listen to American workers and consumers who want this infrastructure project, and embrace the Keystone XL pipeline so we can finally put this debate to rest and get folks back to work. After six long years, it’s time to build.”
For more information on the Keystone XL pipeline and its long history, click HERE.
“Over the next several months, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which I chair, will begin a series of listening sessions and roundtables to gather advice and advance ideas about how to streamline the approval process, spur more scientific collaboration and ensure the United States remains the world leader in this field. …”
Then in April, Upton partnered with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to begin the conversation in earnest. Since then, the committee has engaged in a thoughtful and powerful discussion with patients and experts from all across the country about how to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery cycle of new cures and treatments.
Throughout the Cures initiative, the foundation of support has remained strong.
On May 9, 2014, James Pinkerton reported on the first Cures roundtable in Breitbart, “… several hundred people gathered for an expression of hopeful humanity, a flowering of bipartisan cooperation on behalf of an important issue--namely, medical cures.”
On June 20, 2014, ahead of the second D.C. roundtable, CQ Roll Call called the effort “a novel initiative that brings issue advocates directly into the deliberations process.”
On July 9, 2014, Paul Howard wrote in Morning Consult, “the 21st Century Cures Initiative is a welcome reminder that America’s policymakers can still come together to meet and solve great challenges.”
As roundtables were held across the country, local news outlets and groups from New Jersey, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, Virginia, and Texas shared their optimism and praise for the effort.
On November 20, 2014, Fox News reported on the 2014 Partnering for Cures event in New York City, “Medical breakthroughs… have caught the attention of policy makers who recognize the need to revamp the notoriously slow process of bringing medical innovations to the market.” Chairman Upton told Dr. Manny Alvarez, “[With] disease, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or Independent… We want to solve these issues.”
And on January 15, 2015, the Cures initiative topped Huffington Post’s list of medical research trends to watch in 2015.
After eight hearings, five white papers, and roundtables across the country, the committee this week released a discussion document outlining many of the ideas and proposals that have been voiced throughout this process. The support for #Cures2015 remains strong; many patient groups have already weighed in to share their initial thoughts.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) today applauded the efforts of Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) upon the release of the “Innovation for Healthier Americans” Report.
“Getting more and better cures and treatments to patients more quickly is a goal shared by all. I applaud Senators Alexander and Burr for releasing this report today and encouraging further discussion to determine how best to keep America at the forefront of health care innovation,” said Upton. “The more people talking about how to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of new cures and treatments, the better. I look forward to working with Senators Alexander, Burr, and Murray as we continue our quest for 21st Century Cures. Together, we will get this done.”
Chairman Upton, along with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), have led the 21st Century Cures initiative for the past year. Earlier this week, the committee released a discussion document in that initiative and embarked on #Cures2015, with the goal of sending legislation to the president’s desk by the end of the year.
WASHINGTON, DC – Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) issued the following statement in response to today’s release of the final volumes of the Safety Evaluation Report for Yucca Mountain:
“With the SER now complete, we’re one step closer to keeping the federal government’s promise to build a permanent repository for nuclear waste. We now know from this independent government review that Yucca Mountain is safe and can meet the technical standards. I again commend the NRC staff scientists and engineers for their years of thorough work on this safety evaluation. Completing the SER is a milestone achievement, but there is still a long road ahead. I am eager to work with my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle this Congress to ensure the NRC, DOE, and the State of Nevada have all the resources and incentives they need to keep moving forward on this national asset.”
2323 days are now on the clock since the application to build the Keystone XL pipeline was first submitted, and it’s now been over three years since the president shocked American workers by formally rejecting the project’s initial permit. Since then, the president has dodged a decision, blaming his procrastination on process and hiding behind an extraneous court case. But that case is now closed and time is running out. The House overwhelmingly passed legislation approving Keystone’s permit earlier this month and the Senate is expected to clear bipartisan legislation later today. Once again, the president will be forced to decide: jobs or politics?
President Obama has already threatened to veto the legislation, but maybe he was too quick to forget the blowback he received the first time he discarded Keystone’s permit.
The president will soon get the chance to even the score for American workers. Will he make the same mistake twice and decide to turn his back on them again? Or he will reconsider and decide to join Congress in standing up for jobs and American energy? Time’s up, Mr. President. It’s #TimeToBuild.
2125 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515