Washington Weekly
Feb. 2, 2015

Last Week

As expected, the Senate passed legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Requiring only 50 votes for simple passage, the bill garnered 62 to pass, but it is believed will still be short of overturning a veto from the president. In a workweek shortened by the Democratic retreat, the House passed legislation streamlining the approval process for permitting Liquefied Natural Gas projects. Most significantly, it deems any National Environmental Protect Act review to be concluded: (1) 30 days after publication of a required Environmental Impact Statement if the project needs one; (2) 30 days after publication by DOE of a Finding of No Significant Impact if the project needs an Environmental Assessment; and (3) upon a determination by the lead agency that an application is eligible for a categorical exclusion pursuant to regulations under NEPA.More

This Week

Following passage in the House, the Senate is poised to take up FY 2015 funding for the Department of Homeland Security, with debate centering on the administration’s immigration policy. They are also expected to take up legislation addressing veterans’ suicides, which stalled in the previous Congress. The House will hold one more vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, but in addition, will also be taking up legislation directing committees to develop alternatives. The House is also expected to take up two bills reforming the regulatory process, by requiring the executive branch to provide upfront cost-estimates to proposed regulations. More

Item of Interest

Today begins an annual tradition, with the president sending up to Congress his annual budget proposal. Included are many themes that were mentioned during his recent State of the Union address. Such items include $478 million in spending on infrastructure, to be paid for by "repatriating" earnings gained overseas and taxed at a one-time rate of 14%. As proposed, the budget would generate $320 billion in taxes over the next decade by raising the capital gains and dividends rate to 28 percent, which would largely affect couples making more than $500,000 per year, and by implementing a new tax on the country's largest financial companies. The budget asks Congress to approve $3,000 for a child care tax credit, a college tax credit of $2,500, a second-earner tax credit of $500 and an expanded earned income tax credit for workers without children and noncustodial parents. Of concern is yet another attack on S Corps, by proposing a closing of the so-called Gingrich-Edwards loophole, which enables S Corps firms such as law, medical and investment to reclassify income in the form of business profits as opposed to salary. Read more here.More

With Keystone Theater Done, Senate Primed for Meaty Energy Debate
National Journal
After a month that saw more than 40 roll-call votes on energy issues, the Senate is geared up to do it all again — just a little slower. The final vote on the Keystone XL oil pipeline bill capped a long-awaited open debate on energy, with votes on issues ranging from the reality of climate change to renewable-energy tax incentives. It was, both sides said, a chance to knock off some rust and get into topics that hadn't seen votes on the Senate floor in years.More

Obama's Budget: 5 Things to Watch
The Hill
President Barack Obama today will pitch his second-to-last budget blueprint to Congress. Since early January, the administration has been leaking out, piece by piece, some major requests that will be wrapped into the budget. The costings will cover the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October. More

Memo Plants Seeds for GOP's New Immigration Strategy
Roll Call
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent House Republicans a legislative memo Jan. 29, laying out a February agenda of repealing "Obamacare," taking on unfunded mandates and permanently providing a tax deduction for charitable giving. But more than messaging, McCarthy may have also begun planting the seed that Republicans might need a different vehicle to fight President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration other than the Department of Homeland Security funding bill.More

Obama's Proposals: From Healthy to Dead on Arrival
Politico
President Barack Obama's budget may seem like a $4 trillion exercise in wishful thinking, given that the Republicans who control Congress have their own ideas for shaping the nation’s spending. But a deep dive into the document pulls up a smattering of proposals that could well earn bipartisan support — as well as others that are unlikely to be enacted, but still have the power to shape debate. More