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The Week in Climate Hearings: Deadlines Loom
Also: It's primary day in Rhode Island
The August break is over for members of Congress, and boy have they got a busy month ahead. As David Dayen details, the end of September is the deadline for funding the federal government, the $1 trillion five-year Farm Bill, and re-authorization of everything from the Federal Aviation Administration to the National Flood Insurance Program (which has been drained by catastrophic floods from Florida to Vermont). Funding for wildland firefighters and various pandemic preparedness programs are also expiring. Furthermore, the Biden administration is seeking $24 billion more for the Ukraine war and $12 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, which has been rapidly depleted by the Maui wildfires, Hurricane Idalia, and other fossil-fueled disasters.
As I mentioned last month, the hard-right faction of House Republicans is gleefully threatening a government shutdown if their demands are unmet. And the Senate’s Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had another deep freeze last week, threatening further disarray.
It’s a good thing our elected officials are back at work after catching up on their sleep during the Labor Day weekend.
Correction: only the Senate is back this week, starting Wednesday; the GOP-run House returns to session next week. Giving them plenty of time to get everything done.
The Senate has a few hearings of note this week, all on Thursday morning:
The Environment and Public Works chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) leads a second hearing on the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s water and sewer funding (the first was in March), with testimony from officials from North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and North Dakota.
Banking chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) looks at the impact on consumers of the “challenges” in the property insurance market with Consumer Federation of America’s Doug Heller, retirement home lobbyist Michelle Norris, and former insurance industry executive Jerry Theodorou, now with the center-right R Street Institute. The floods, storms, and fires caused by climate pollution are motivating property insurers to abandon Florida, California, Texas, and Louisiana—or demand extortionate deals from the states to remain.
Energy chair Joe Manchin (D-Coal) has a hearing on artificial intelligence and the Department of Energy, because why not.
The chair of the Foreign Relations western hemisphere subcommittee, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), oversees a hearing on budget priorities for the Americas, with Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Brian A. Nichols, USAID’s Latin America and Caribbean administrator Marcela Escobari, and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs chief Todd Robinson.
We’re interested to see if they discuss last month’s vote in Ecuador to stop drilling for oil in the Yasuní National Park in the Amazon rainforest, a major victory for climate justice which Hill Heat will explore in greater detail in a future post.
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It’s also primary day in Rhode Island today, featuring a highly competitive race to succeed retiring Rep. David Cicilline. Green New Dealer and former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, who co-founded the Rhode Island chapter of the Working Families Party, has been endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and appears to be the front-runner in this multi-candidate race. The progressive wing of Rhode Island politics has been riven by internecine conflict in recent years; Regunberg is on the outs with the hard-line Co-op. The writers at Primary School are fans of state senator Sandra Cano, one of the other main contenders, “despite some troubling answers she gave to questions on the environment.”