WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today announced its hearing and vote schedule for the week of April 27. Members will take major steps toward advancing 21st Century Cures and building the Architecture of Abundance. Members will also discuss ways to make the FCC more transparent and will continue their review of opioid abuse. Finally, the committee will advance bills to protect consumers and businesses from higher electricity rates and patent trolls.
On Tuesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold opening statements for a markup of the Ratepayer Protection Act and the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act of 2015 (TROL Act). The Ratepayer Protection Act will empower states to protect consumers and businesses from higher electricity prices, reduced reliability, and other harmful effects of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The TROL Act is a balanced solution to stop abusive patent demand letters while preserving a strong patent system. The full committee will reconvene on Wednesday to vote on the bills. The Majority Memorandum, legislation, and amendments will be available here as they are posted.
On Thursday, one year to the day since launching 21st Century Cures, the Subcommittee on Health will take the next major step toward achieving #Cures2015. After a year of listening and engaging with patients, innovators, researchers, providers, and regulators, subcommittee members will discuss with the NIH and FDA a forthcoming bipartisan discussion draft of 21st Century Cures. The Majority Memorandum and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
Also on Thursday, the Subcommittee on Energy and Power will continue its work to build the Architecture of Abundance with a hearing to review the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and energy efficiency sections. Members of the subcommittee will review discussion drafts, which seek to modernize the SPR and advance energy efficiency across the public and private sectors. The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
Also on Thursday, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will take an important next step in the #CommActUpdate and continue its work to reform the FCC. Members will hear from FCC Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner O’Rielly and review three draft bills that will improve transparency at the FCC. The Majority Memorandum and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
On Friday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold its third hearing to tackle the opioid epidemic that is facing our country. Members of the subcommittee have heard from the ‘boots on the ground,’ as well as experts and academics on how to best tackle this growing problem. Next week, members will have the opportunity to ask federal officials what they are doing to combat the epidemic and explore how federal policies can better support efforts to develop new and promising treatments. The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
Also on Friday, the Subcommittee on Health will discuss H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act, authored by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). The bill relates to the use of synthetic plastic microbeads in personal care products. Microbeads can slip through water treatment systems after they are washed down the drain and as a result, they often end up in local streams, rivers, and large bodies of water such as the Great Lakes. Legislative text is available online here. The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
Tuesday, April 28, 20155 PM2123 Rayburn HOBEnergy and Commerce CommitteeMarkup of H.R., __, The Ratepayer Protection Act, and H.R.__, the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act of 2015 (TROL Act) (Opening Statements only)
Wednesday, April 29, 201510 AM2123 Rayburn HOBEnergy and Commerce CommitteeMarkup of H.R., __, The Ratepayer Protection Act, and H.R.__, the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act of 2015 (TROL Act)
Thursday, April 30, 201510 AM2123 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on HealthHearing on “Legislative Hearing on 21st Century Cures.”
10:15 AM2322 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on Energy and PowerHearing on “Strategic Petroleum Reserve Discussion Draft and Title IV Energy Efficiency”
2:00 PM2123 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on Communications and TechnologyHearing on “FCC Reauthorization: Improving Commission Transparency”
Friday, May 1, 20159 AM2322 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on Oversight and InvestigationsHearing on “What is the Federal Government Doing to Combat the Opioid Abuse Epidemic?”
9:15 AM2123 Rayburn HOBSubcommittee on HealthExamining the Impact of Microbeads in Cosmetic Products
WASHINGTON, DC – As a longtime champion of expanding hydropower in the Northwest and throughout the United States, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) issued the following statement today after releasing a discussion draft on her legislation to update the federal regulation of non-federal hydropower, which gives certainty to those who are working through the regulatory process. Her legislation helps people utilize hydropower in Eastern Washington and across the country.
“Hydropower offers Eastern Washington and the nation significant benefits – including energy security, reliability, environmental protection, and recreation opportunities. I am excited to help unleash American ingenuity to increase hydropower production, lower energy costs for middle-class families, and expand domestic energy production in an affordable and cost-effective manner. Tremendous potential exists for new hydropower development, including facilities at existing infrastructure such as nonpowered dams, new hydropower sites, and emerging technologies that improve the capture of energy along irrigation canals, municipal water supply conduits, and other infrastructure.
“As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Northwest Energy Caucus, I’m working in Congress to address Federal laws that too often get in the way of utilizing this renewable energy resource, to streamline the hydropower licensing and relicensing process to make it more efficient and transparent, and to encourage early environmental protection. As the largest source of renewable energy in the United States, we need to modernize the way we license projects that utilize hydropower, our cleanest, most affordable and reliable energy resource.
“Washington State alone gets approximately 70 percent of its power from hydropower and today, we could double hydropower production in America without building a single new dam. While the Federal Power Act and the Energy Policy Act of 2005 have tried to require better decision making and promote efficiency in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s licensing process, unfortunately, this has not occurred. The discussion draft I am releasing today – the Hydropower Regulatory Modernization Act of 2015 – seeks to start a conversation on how best to correct this problem and expand an energy source for the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the country that will not only lower energy costs, but create thousands of jobs.”
In August of 2013, the Congresswoman’s legislation, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, was signed into law. It was one of only 72 bills that passed the president’s desk that year.
Hydropower currently provides nearly 50 percent of all renewable electricity and approximately 100,000 megawatts of electric capacity in the United States, which is enough generating capacity to produce electricity for roughly 75 to 100 million homes. This energy source expands the nation’s ability to rely on many other renewable energy resources by stabilizing intermittent resources such as solar and wind power.
Click here to read the full Hydropower discussion draft.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler requesting information about his proposal to close 16 of the commission's 24 field offices across the country. During testimony before the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, both FCC Managing Director Jon Wilkins (on March 4), and Chairman Wheeler (on March 19) pledged to provide the committee with the outside consultant’s final report detailing the rationale and analytical support for the proposal. To date, the FCC has provided just a two-page memo and a 35-page slide presentation in response to the committee.
In the letter to Wheeler, full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Rep, Mike Pompeo (R-KS) question the FCC about the decision to close these field offices and request all internal and external FCC documents about the decision.
The leaders write, “Your proposal to shutter 16 of the commission’s 24 field offices raises significant challenges and concerns. The commission has represented to Congress and the American people that it will “preserve the integrity of public safety communications infrastructure by taking action on 99% of complaints of interference to public safety communications within one day,” yet your proposal to reduce the geographic footprint of the commission appears to ignore the impact this might have on the commission’s public interest goal.”
The leaders continued, “Our concerns have only been heightened by the commission’s failure to provide all the information requested by the committee.” The committee has set a deadline of May 7 for the FCC to comply.
To read the full letter, click here.
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today held a hearing to discuss the growing problem of prescription drug and opioid abuse from professional and academic perspectives. Members heard from a number of experts about treatment options currently available and best practices for those suffering from addiction and abuse as part of the committee’s ongoing effort to confront this problem.
“Let me state clearly so as to leave no room for doubt: Our current strategies are failing and I am not going to stop until we start moving in the direction of success defined not just as getting individuals off of street drugs and onto a government-approved opioid, but getting them to the point of drug free living and to also identify appropriate treatment options for those with underlying mental illness,” Murphy said. “Today we have assembled some of the leading opioid addiction experts to get your thoughts about how to reverse this epidemic.”
Witnesses discussed the best options for treatment and prevention, including medical-assisted treatment, reducing the over-prescription of opioids, prescription drug monitoring programs, drug courts and the importance of federal, state, and local laws focused on overdose prevention.
“There is plenty of room for improvement in all forms of substance abuse treatment,” said Dr. Robert DuPont. “Having a measurable goal will help all treatments achieve their full potential as important parts of the nation’s response to the current, devastating opioid epidemic.”
“The risk of death because of untreated opioid addiction is very high, approximately 1 in a 100 of individuals addicted to opioids dies every year as a result of this illness. This risk is greatly reduced in patients that are treated with medications,” Dr. Adam Bisaga explained. “Unlike many other disorders with high mortality rates, opioid use disorder is treatable, and a joint effort of health professionals, community advocates, and policy makers is urgently needed to reverse this tragic trend.”
Dr. Laurence Westreich added, “Let me reiterate my main point, and what I know you have heard from others: Opioid-addicted people need access to a broad range of treatments for addiction. This must include medication-assisted treatment and treatment for co-occurring psychiatric disorders.”
“We don’t just have an opioid misuse epidemic, or an opioid overdose epidemic, we also have an opioid over-prescribing epidemic,” Dr. Anna Lembke said. “Congress can push back against the opioid epidemic by requiring revision of health care quality measures to reduce over-prescribing, incentivizing use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), and scrutinizing accreditation organizations and regulatory agencies. All three approaches will save lives and improve the practice of medicine at the same time.”
Dr. Marvin Seppala shared some of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s successful techniques with the subcommittee: “Based on our early positive results, we plan to continue paving the way for others to use both scientific and spiritual solutions to engage more people in treatment, save lives and ultimately help more people get into long-term recovery.”
“One of the most promising interventions has been new laws focused on overdose prevention, increased access to naloxone, Good Samaritan protections, and treatment of opioid use disorders,” Dr. Patrice Harris said. “The AMA has worked hand-in-hand with many state medical societies to help enact these laws throughout the nation, and our goal is for every state in the land to support this life-saving approach.”
Next Week’s Legislative Hearing Will Mark Exactly ONE YEAR Since Upton and DeGette Embarked Upon the #Path2Cures
The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health next Thursday will hold a 21st Century Cures legislative hearing, exactly one year to the day after full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) launched the #Path2Cures. Staff continues to work together around the clock as they have for the past several months and legislative text will be made available in the coming days.
Watch the Cures Launch Video, Released April 30, 2014, HERE
“We have made incredible strides over the last year. Doing big things in the health care space takes time and careful attention. That’s why with 21st Century Cures we have spent the past year engaging in an open, nonpartisan, beyond-the-beltway conversation about how to deliver hope to patients and their families. We called it the Path to Cures, and with this initiative we’re charting a new course,” said Upton. “Next week, as we mark one year on the path to cures, we will take a huge step forward in the legislative process, and closer to realizing #Cures2015. We are on the brink of something special.”
“Thanks to real attention and outreach, 21st Century Cures has generated valuable feedback and significant consensus for improving treatments and cures for patients. We aren’t done yet, but in looking back on all of the positive work of this past year, I am confident that we can succeed in making our country and world a healthier place,” said DeGette.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today began its work on a comprehensive energy bill with a review of a discussion draft of Title II: 21st Century Workforce. This section of the bill seeks to improve education and training for energy and manufacturing-related jobs and bridge the gap between underrepresented communities and the energy and manufacturing workforce. This bipartisan legislation to ensure energy and manufacturing-related opportunities are available to all Americans is sponsored by Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby Rush (D-IL), Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).
“Energy and energy-related employment has been one of the few economic bright spots in recent years – everything from those employed discovering and producing energy, to those constructing and operating the infrastructure to transport it, to the new factories that are powered by it,” said Whitfield. “But America’s energy transformation has taken the job market by surprise. Many in need of work do not have the skills required to fill these high-paying opportunities, and the Department of Energy’s job programs do not fully reflect current realities.”
“I am optimistic knowing that both sides continue to work diligently and in good faith on hammering out some of the more contentious outstanding issues, so that hopefully we can bring forth a bill that helps moves our nation’s energy policy forward and restores this subcommittee’s reputation as a true model of what bipartisanship can accomplish,” said subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL). “This bill brings together government agencies, including the national labs, the energy and manufacturing industries, unions, schools, community colleges, and universities, among others, and promotes cooperation and collaboration to make sure that we are tapping into a wealth of underutilized talent and training and preparing workers for the energy and manufacturing jobs of the present and future.”
Rick Jarvis, Vice President of Morrow-Meadows Corporation, testifying on behalf of National Electrical Contractors Association, applauded the committee’s efforts to support the development of a highly skilled energy workforce. “Increasing the availability of skilled workers is crucial to the growth of the energy sector, and the apprenticeship infrastructure provided by the construction trades is a sure-fire bet for success,” said Jarvis.
Monica Martinez, President of Hispanics in Energy, expressed the need to take action to improve the opportunities for underrepresented communities in the workforce. “We must continue to spread the message of the opportunity available in the energy field. Doing so, will enable many Americans to live the American dream and find the economic opportunity that comes with it,” said Martinez. “As a nation of energy users, we must ensure that we promote and carry the message of the job opportunities in energy to everyone.”
Tracy L. Brundage, Vice President of Workforce Development at Pennsylvania College of Technology, testified about ShaleNet, what she described as “successful partnership of training providers, economic development, the public workforce system, employers, and trade associations who responded to the call from the energy industry for a trained workforce.” The committee’s legislation seeks to foster more partnerships like ShaleNet to secure jobs for America’s energy workforce.
Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Vice President & Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer and Chief Energy Officer at the University of Houston, said that the committee’s focus on workforce development is “well placed,” and explained that there is a massive misalignment of workforce needs and student education within the energy industry. He noted that education and training partnerships with community colleges and industry, like those programs included in the legislation, can help produce the high-skilled workers needed to fill today’s workforce demands.
Charles Wilson, Managing Partner of CW Consulting Group, gave powerful testimony about his hopelessness as a disadvantaged youth and explained how the committee’s legislation can give at-risk young men and women hope for a better life and the tools they need for success. “This collaboration will not only meet the needs of today, but will help bring recognition to the United States as the world leader in energy and manufacturing and job creation. I fully support the establishment and passing of this innovative Title II: 21st Century Workforce bill,” said Wilson.
Chairman Upton concluded, “Affordable and plentiful supplies of American energy offer long term employment opportunities for millions seeking well-paying careers, and the 21st Century Workforce discussion draft helps make sure that these opportunities are available for all who seek them.”
WASHINGTON, DC - After nearly a year of listening to patients, innovators, researchers, providers, and regulators, 21st Century Cures next week will take the next step in the legislative phase with a hearing, “Legislative Hearing on 21st Century Cures,” on Thursday, April 30, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Subcommittee members will discuss a forthcoming bipartisan discussion draft of this highly anticipated legislation, the product of a yearlong listening session and bipartisan negotiations.
The committee has held eight hearings and issued several white papers in this initiative since its launch last year. Committee members, both in Washington, D.C., and across the country, have also hosted more than two-dozen roundtables to generate ideas for this initiative. Staff continues to work together around the clock as they have for the past several months and legislative text will be made available in the coming days.
Dr. Kathy Hudson, Deputy Director for Science, Outreach, and Policy at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Jeff Shuren, Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the FDA will testify.
The Majority Memorandum, legislative text, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, April 30, 2015, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing will continue the committee’s work on its Architecture of Abundance energy legislation with a review of “Strategic Petroleum Reserve Discussion Draft and Title IV Energy Efficiency.”
Changing global energy markets and the surge in domestic oil production have underscored the need to modernize our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Recent reported vulnerabilities have shown the need to upgrade the SPR’s infrastructure to respond to emergencies. The draft legislation seeks to ensure that our stockpiles of petroleum are kept safely and readily accessible in times of national emergency by directing the Department of Energy to conduct a long-range review of the SPR and recommend an action plan to achieve optimal capacity, location, composition, storage, and distributional capabilities.
Energy efficiency is a simple and affordable way to help meet U.S. energy demands and reduces costs for consumers and the federal government. Title IV seeks to capitalize on energy efficiency opportunities across the private and public sectors by facilitating the development and deployment of innovative technologies and encouraging energy savings techniques. The legislation seeks to improve efficiency of the federal government through improved technologies and energy performance contracting, promote greater energy savings in products and buildings, and reduce the compliance costs and burdens on manufacturers of energy-efficient technologies.
The committee is advancing a comprehensive energy bill addressing four key policy areas: modernizing infrastructure, a 21st century energy workforce, energy diplomacy for a changing world, and efficiency and accountability. The administration’s recently released Quadrennial Energy Review highlighted the need for congressional action to address these issues, including recommendations to modernize the SPR and improve energy efficiency.
“Modernizing our strategic energy reserves and advancing energy efficiency are critical to achieving a stronger and more secure energy future. A modern SPR will ensure that we can effectively respond during national emergencies, and by improving energy efficiency, we can meet our energy demands while reducing waste and costs for taxpayers, ” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). “ We look forward to the witnesses’ testimony on these important elements of the Architecture of Abundance as we continue to work toward a final legislative product that can move our energy policy into the 21st Century. We were encouraged by the bipartisan support displayed at our workforce hearing and hope we can continue to work together to advance a comprehensive bill.”
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade today took action to protect consumers and small businesses by voting to advance the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act (TROL Act) by a vote of 10 to 7. The TROL Act is a balanced solution to stop the practice of fraudulent and abusive patent demand letters, while preserving the ability of patent holders to legitimately protect their intellectual property.
Abusive patent assertion entities (PAEs), or patent trolls, unfairly target small businesses and cost American companies tens of billions of dollars every year by threatening litigation. The TROL act seeks to increase transparency and accountability in patent demand letters and provides the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with the authority to levy fines on bad actors that send deceptive demand letters.
The subcommittee is working off a draft of the TROL Act that was advanced by the subcommittee last Congress, and is seeking to improve the bill in an effort to achieve the greatest protections without harming innovation or punishing those patent holders acting in good faith. The subcommittee today voted to accept an amendment to mirror the language in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for bona fide mistakes as was suggested by the minority witness at last week’s hearing.
Chairman Burgess expressed that the committee will continue to work to strengthen the legislation and urged all stakeholders to come to the table. “There is no doubt that abusive patent demand letters can wreak havoc on smaller businesses and drive up costs for consumers. I hope more stakeholders will work with us within the confines of what we can do constitutionally to provide additional avenues of enforcement,” said Burgess. “Our door remains open and we will continue to move forward. I hope that we can move forward together as opposed to splintering off and dividing at a crucial time.”
WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy and Power today voted to approve the Ratepayer Protection Act by a vote of 17 to 12. The Ratepayer Protection Act is a commonsense solution to protect ratepayers from higher electricity prices, reduced reliability, and other harmful impacts of EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. The bill extends the compliance deadlines until after judicial review is completed, and provides that a state would not be forced to implement a compliance plan if the governor finds it would have significant adverse effects on ratepayers or reliability.
While the Clean Power Plan will have a no meaningful impact on the U.S. or global climate, it will have an impact on American families and businesses. The subcommittee has held five hearings on EPA’s Clean Power Plan since it was proposed, which have identified the fundamental legal flaws of the plan, the myriad implementation challenges, the pressing reliability concerns, and the significant economic harm to ratepayers, including the nation’s lower income and most vulnerable.
“We believe these major problems can be addressed with the Ratepayer Protection Act,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), “The bill does not repeal the Clean Power Plan nor does it preclude a state from moving forward with EPA’s agenda. It simply creates a voluntary process to prevent the proposed rule from imposing unnecessary economic hardship.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “Numerous states have raised legal, feasibility, and economic concerns about the administration’s plan. The Ratepayer Protection Act translates these concerns into sensible safeguards that protect ratepayers both large and small.”
At a recent subcommittee hearing, Laurence Tribe, noted legal expert and professor at Harvard Law School, criticized EPA’s plan for its blatant disregard of the constitution, arguing that EPA “lacks the statutory and constitutional authority to adopt its plan” and compared EPA’s overreach to “burning the constitution.” Legal expert Allison Wood similarly testified that “EPA’s proposed section 111(d) rule suffers from many legal infirmities and violates the Clean Air Act.”
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