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Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act

In September 2017, the House considered HR 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, which is a funding package for FY2018.  Importantly, it marks the first time in nearly a decade that the House passed all 12 appropriations bills on time.  Included in this legislation are several provisions that may be of interest as it relates to energy and environmental issues including that:

  • It rolls back job-killing regulations, like the Waters of the U.S. rule.

  • It ends dozens of underachieving government programs across multiple agencies and reduces funding for hundreds of others that need improvement.

  • It cuts funding for the EPA by $534 million below FY17 levels.

Streamlining Regulations and Permitting Processes

The federal government has a clear role to play in preserving our natural resources and protecting the environment.  However, I had concerns with several regulatory initiatives coming from the former administration that increased the costs of energy and had a devastating effect on job creation.  Too many people are struggling to make ends meet, and increasing energy costs is not something American families can afford.  Furthermore, we have seen that Wisconsin manufacturers are facing stiff competition from overseas, and these businesses will be put at an even further disadvantage against countries that have no intention of inflicting similar regulations.

I support reforms to our regulatory and permitting processes to ensure that domestically produced energy is able to get to market—whether this means getting natural resources to energy intensive manufacturing regions or getting oil to the refineries that are best suited to process it.  In addition to creating numerous jobs, reforms like these would allow domestic manufacturers and refineries to take advantage of less costly American energy.  Over the past few years, multiple refineries that import oil from overseas have shuttered due to an inability to compete with refineries that have access to cheaper domestic oil.  Certain refineries are built to process light sweet crude oil, like those found in North Dakota, while others are built to process heavier oil, like what we import from Canada.  Streamlining regulations and permitting processes will create more competition in the market, which often leads to lower prices for the consumer.

Domestic Production

America has an abundance of domestic resources – including natural gas and oil in the Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska, oil shale in the Central West, and diverse, alternative energy sources.  A top priority of Congress must be to unleash the potential of domestic production of American-made energy in an environmentally-conscious manner.  We can do this while simultaneously improving infrastructure and creating jobs by allowing the use of royalties paid by energy companies to repair roads and bridges.  Increasing supply at home will not only help lower fuel prices and create good paying jobs, but it will reduce our reliance on foreign oil from hostile nations such as Iran and Venezuela.  To this point, House Republicans are committed to advancing proposals to increase American–made energy.

Gasoline Tax

Increasing the gasoline tax remains a contentious issue in Congress.  The Highway Trust Fund (HTF), used to fund the federal government’s surface transportation programs, is primarily financed by the federal excise tax on gasoline and diesel sales.  However, since 2008, the financial obligations of the HTF have regularly been greater than trust fund balances.  This is a result of several factors, including improved fuel economy for vehicles, a decline in miles traveled by drivers, and the effect of inflation on the fixed gas tax.  Consequently, tens of billions of dollars have been transferred from the Treasury's general fund to pay for these shortfalls.  Without action by Congress to provide funding for the HTF, our nation would have seen see hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

At a time when the economy is struggling to grow, we do not need more taxes.  Working families have been struggling for years to get by, and when gas prices finally drop and people are finally catching a break, the last thing we should do is take that economic benefit away by indiscriminately raising the gas tax.  Simply chasing fuel efficiency with higher taxes is a regressive solution to a serious problem.

As you may know, on November 5, 2015, the House passed H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, in bipartisan fashion by a vote of 363 to 64.  The DRIVE Act would reauthorize federal highway and mass transit programs through 2021 without raising the excise tax on gasoline.  Furthermore, this bill would make important reforms that would protect against wasteful spending and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently for projects that address our nation's most pressing transportation and infrastructure needs.  Because the House-passed bill differed from its Senate counterpart, the House and Senate voted to enter into a Conference to resolve the differences between the two bills.  On December 1, 2015, the Conference reported a reconciled version of H.R. 22, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, to both chambers of Congress.  On December 3, 2015, in bipartisan fashion, the House passed this bill by a vote of 359 to 65.  The Senate also acted in bipartisan fashion to pass this bill on December 3, 2015, doing so by a vote of 83 to 16.  Then President Obama signed this bill into law on December 4, 2015.  

HR 1 – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

In addition to providing tax relief for individuals, families, and job creators of all sizes, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also makes significant strides in boosting American energy production.  This legislation establishes an environmentally responsible oil and gas program in the non-wilderness area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  The ANWR is non-wilderness federal land in Alaska that is known to be rich in energy, most notably, oil.  By allowing for responsible development in this area America can raise tens of billions of dollars for deficit reduction, create thousands of new jobs, keep energy affordable, and most importantly, reduce our reliance on foreign oil.  By capitalizing on our nation’s natural resources, we diminish our dependence on foreign competitors and reinvest in the American worker.  This legislation was signed into law by President Trump in December 2017.    

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