The McConnell-Boehner Corporate Congress returns to Washington, D.C., next week after taking a week off. Expect lawmakers to return to deal-making around the budget. To send a strong signal that using the budget to push corporate agendas is unacceptable, leaders of national civil rights, consumer, environmental, labor and women’s organizations will hold a telephone press call at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to urge Congress to pass a clean budget that has no ideological policy riders and fully funds key national security and middle-class programs. We’ll be joined by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The rest of the week? Lawmakers will be targeting safeguards that help ensure we have clean air and water, a stable financial system, and safe roads and working conditions for miners:
• The House Education and the Workforce Committee holds a hearing on mine safety on Wednesday. This comes as former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who was at the helm of the company in 2010 when 29 workers were killed in an explosion at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine, is on trial for breaking mine safety laws. On Thursday, the former company president testified that Blankenship prioritized cost-cutting over safety – highlighting why we have federal safeguards. Even Blankenship, who grumbled about mine safety rules, seems to understand that rules save lives. He admitted in a phone call played for the jury that without federal mine regulators, “we’d blow ourselves up.”
• The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works holds a hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday titled “Oversight of Regulatory Impact Analyses for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regulations.” Despite rhetoric from the fossil fuel industry, the fact is that benefits of clean air and water rules consistently outweigh their costs. This is true for safeguards across the board: The Office of Management and Budget found that rules issued between 2003 and 2013 resulted in benefits ranging from $217 billion to $863 billion, compared to costs ranging from $57 billion to $84 billion.
• The U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee holds yet another hearing at 2 p.m. Thursday to attack the Obama administration’s new rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Despite the “sky-will-fall” claims from corporate-backed lawmakers, consumers will see their electricity bills decrease. Why? They will use less electricity thanks to increased efficiency measures states will adopt as part of the plan. Yes, that will happen even in Kentucky – home to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the subcommittee chair, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), according to an early analysis of the rule by Public Citizen.
• The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday to examine “legislative proposals to reduce regulatory burdens on Main Street job creators.” In other words, lawmakers likely will continue their efforts to dismantle the vital Dodd-Frank Wall Street rules that are designed to help stave off another catastrophic economic collapse like the one we experienced in 2008.