Washington Weekly
Feb. 3, 2014

Last Week

The House passed a compromise farm bill. The bill will end direct payments to farmers, reduce the number of conservation programs operated by the Agriculture Department, and cuts about $8 billion in funding to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. House Republicans met for their annual policy retreat, where they introduced a statement of principles on immigration reform. It includes their support for border security and enforcement, as well as a path to legal status — but not citizenship — for undocumented immigrants. The Senate invoked cloture on flood insurance legislation and debated a number of amendments before finally voting on final passage.More

This Week

The Senate is expected to vote on the farm bill, starting with a procedural measure Monday and moving to final passage later this week. The House will consider legislation addressing the ongoing drought in California as well as legislation reforming importation of animal trophies. In addition, the Obama administration is strongly urging the House to begin taking up the debt ceiling and increase the borrowing cap before Friday, although no path forward is apparent. Like House Republicans last week, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate will be meeting separately to plan their 2014 agenda and strategy.More

Item of Interest

Last Friday the State Department issued a report on the Keystone XL pipeline, which concluded that the pipeline won't significantly increase carbon emissions from Canadian oil sands. President Obama has said he would consider the report's findings before deciding whether to approve the project. The finding puts the pipeline one step closer to approval and sets up a new battle between environmental groups and oil companies over whether the project is in the national interest. Be on the lookout for opportunities to contact your elected, as well as administration officials in the run-up to the debt ceiling debate, with Keystone likely on the front burner as leverage.More

Keystone Pipeline: Obama's Unpleasant Options
Friday's much anticipated State Department report on the Keystone XL pipeline is a body blow to environmentalists but does nothing to change President Barack Obama's two eventual choices and the fact that either one will be unpopular. Approve Keystone and he angers his liberal base — and donors. Reject it and it remains a thorn in the administration's side for three more years.More

Energy Secretary: Ability to Transport US Oil, Gas Lags Booming Output
The energy boom of the last decade that has boosted oil and gas production in the United States has outpaced the development of critical infrastructure to transport the raw and refined materials, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. Reflecting on a spate of accidents involving freight trains pulling tank cars full of volatile crude oil in Canada and the United States, Moniz said that infrastructure development was key, even beyond a reconsideration of rail regulations now under way by U.S. authorities.More

How Second-Term Presidents Scratch the Six-Year Itch
Roll Call
Second-term presidents delivering their sixth State of the Union addresses take a variety of approaches: wonkiness, bragging about their accomplishments, distancing themselves from scandals, joking at their own expenses and/or commemorating American heroes. "The intermediate ballistic missiles, Thor and Jupiter, have already been ordered into production," Dwight D. Eisenhower told the 85th Congress on Jan. 9, 1958.More