Morning Action: Senate Looks at Tax Extenders

TAX EXTENDERS.  The Senate is considering a bad tax extenders bill:

Senators will likely face a separate vote on boosting the deficit in order to pass an $85 billion tax cut extenders bill, according to key Senate Republicans.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a staunch opponent of the extenders bill, said he expects someone to raise a budget point of order.

“Somebody will,” Coburn said. “I defer to the Budget Committee, but if they don’t I will,” Coburn said.

KEYSTONE.  The Keystone pipeline is still in limbo in the Senate:

Republicans blocked an energy efficiency bill after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly blocked Republican efforts to vote on five energy amendments Monday — and the GOP rejected an offer to vote on the Keystone pipeline instead.

The 55-36 vote highlights the reality in today’s Senate — 60 votes are needed for legislation. And Reid has been very reluctant to give Republicans votes on amendments that could put vulnerable Democrats on the spot ahead of the midterm elections.

Reid repeatedly offered up a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline if the energy efficiency bill passed, but that wasn’t enough for Senate Republicans.

NSA.  The House may work on a bill to overhaul the NSA’s phone metadata surveillance program next week (sub. req’d):

The House may take up next week a bill that would overhaul the National Security Agency’s phone metadata surveillance program, CQ Roll Call’s John Gramlich reports . The NSA bill may even move ahead of defense authorization on the House’s agenda next week. The House Judiciary and Intelligence panels marked up one and the same NSA bill ( HR 3361 ) last week, with some relatively minor differences between the committees’ respective products.  Getting this debate behind the House may clear the air and free up other bills — including the defense authorization and appropriation measures—from being bogged down by an NSA debate.

HIGHWAY.  The Senate unveiled legislation Monday that would authorize six years of highway and mass-transit programs and would allegedly deal with the solvency of the highway trust fund:

A Senate panel unveiled bipartisan legislation that would authorize six years of U.S. highway and mass-transit programs, acting with construction projects at risk of slowing months before the November election.

The bill drafted by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer and other members would provide the same amount of money each year as in the current two-year, $105 billion legislation expiring in September, plus inflation. Every state would see a boost in federal funds from what it currently receives, and the measure also increases public disclosures about how money is spent.

COAL.  Business groups say that the EPA’s coal rules will be devastating to the economy:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide limits for new power plants will devastate the economy by leading to a steep surge in energy prices, the coal industry and its allies warned.

In comments to the EPA that were due on Friday, the American Coal Council said the new standards would essentially take coal off the market as a power source for new plants.

“Implementation of the rule will reduce American energy diversity and security, stop the development of cleaner coal technologies, and increase the risk of higher electricity prices to consumers and businesses,” the group said.

Separately, the Chamber of Commerce said the rules would have an effect well beyond the coal industry by leading to job losses in the broader economy.


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