Next Week in Corporate Congress

dark-capitolThe McConnell-Boehner Corporate Congress avoided a budget showdown this week, but all lawmakers really did was push their disagreements to later in the year. Still pending, and of great concern to Public Citizen and more than 175 other organizations, are policy riders that lawmakers could attach to spending bills. The riders – which would jeopardize policies that restrain Wall Street abuses, guarantee clean air, food and water, keep homes and workplaces safe, hold big corporations accountable for wrongdoing, and more – have no connection to government funding and are highly controversial and unpopular.

Additional attacks on the public interest are in the offing next week. Here are a few we are watching:

– At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts holds a hearing to address the impacts of regulation on minority communities. Hey! What about the benefits? Expect corporate-backed lawmakers not to focus on those. That’s why Public Citizen’s regulatory policy advocate, Amit Narang, will testify. He will explain how the harm caused by pollution, lax lending rules and unsafe workplaces often falls hardest on low-income communities and people of color.

– Senate lawmakers will launch another broadside against the regulatory process at 10 a.m. Wednesday. That’s when the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meets to consider anti-regulatory bills that would be a boon to mega-companies but would hamstring our health and safety agencies. Several particularly dangerous bills being considered are:

• The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2015 (S. 1607), which would reduce the accountability of independent agencies to Congress and place new, unnecessary burdens on resource-strapped agencies;

• The Principled Rulemaking Act of 2015 (S. 1818), which would layer additional requirements onto the federal rulemaking process rather than streamlining it; and

• The Early Participation in Regulations Act (S. 1820), which would add more delays to the rulemaking process across the board.

– U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers will take aim yet again at the Obama administration’s attempt to protect people from pollution and save the planet. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power holds a hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide rules for new and existing power plants. According to the hearing notice, the rules “seek to transform the way in which America generates, transmits, and consumes electricity.”

The subcommittee chair, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), says that prices would increase in Kentucky and across the United States. But he is omitting key information. Public Citizen analyzed how the Clean Power Plan would affect consumers in a variety of states, including Kentucky. The result: Electricity bills will decrease because people will be using less electricity thanks to increased efficiency measures that the state will adopt as part of the plan.