BCA's Washington Briefing

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Photo by IsraelinUSA is licensed under CC 2.0



Business Council of Alabama Chairman Marty Abroms was the guest of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's sobering address to a joint meeting of Congress this week.


Abroms was in the House gallery for Netanyahu's speech about the dangers of Iran possessing and being able to deliver nuclear weapons. "It was probably one of the most electrifying and sobering speeches in my lifetime and maybe one of the most historic certainly in the modern era," Abroms said.


Read more on this story at the BCA blog.



The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had a difficult time this week answering simple questions on EPA issues and budgeting that were posed to her by U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile.


EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. At that hearing, Sessions said his constituents complain about the EPA's "overreach" and wondered whether McCarthy even knows about or recognizes the concerns.


Sessions asked McCarthy whether she could confirm or deny data about droughts and hurricanes.


On droughts, McCarthy said: "I don't know in what context (a scientist) is making statements like that..."


On hurricanes she said: "I cannot answer that question. It's a very complicated issue."


And on temperature she added: "I do not know what the (temperature) models actually are predicting that you are referring to..."

You can watch the exchange here.



U.S Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, said revelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a private, personal email account to conduct official business may show that additional information about the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. interests in Benghazi has not been released.


Clinton used her personal email account and ran her own private server.


"The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails - on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state - traced back to an Internet service registered to her family's home in Chappaqua, N.Y.," according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.


"The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton's secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc."


Roby, who was appointed last year to the House Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, believes the Clinton emails prove the investigation is far from over, Yellowhammer reported.


"Remember when the Administration told us every question about Benghazi had been answered?" Roby said on Tuesday. "Well, this revelation proves that the Administration and State Department may still be obscuring information. The problem here, of course, is that Clinton appears to have flouted federal requirements stating that official correspondence be retained as part of the agency's record. This troublesome finding only raises more questions about the Administration's track record of obscuring information. We'll continue to ask the tough questions and seek answers from a less-than-willing Administration."


Roby was appointed last May to the House Select Committee to Investigate Benghazi chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.


Coal Company Says EPA Rules Are Already Affecting It

The Hill (Cama 2/27) "A major coal company is arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed climate rule for power plants is already having an effect on its operations. Murray Energy Corp. told the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (on Feb. 26) that, since the EPA's proposal is already hurting its finances, it should be allowed to pursue its lawsuit against the rule.


"'The mere pendency of the proposed rule causes immediate harm because coal producers and utility customers must make - and are making - current business decisions now', the company wrote in its final brief to the court before oral arguments for the case in April. 'EPA's pursuit of this rule-making continues to pressure states and capital markets to dismantle Murray Energy's customer base'.


"Murray's argument is in response to the EPA's assertion to the court that since the regulation has only been proposed and has not been enforced, companies like Murray do not have standing to challenge it. The EPA's rule, proposed last June, seeks to cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030. The agency estimated that it would reduce coal's market share for electricity to 31 percent, from the current 39 percent.


"It is highly unusual for courts to overturn rules before they are made final, leading the EPA to argue that the challenge is premature. But Murray says that the egregious violation of the Clean Air Act, along with the effects the proposal has already had, should allow the appeals court to block the EPA from making it final."


Republicans Block NLRB 'Ambush' Union Election Rule

The Hill (Devaney 3/4) "Congressional Republicans opened a new front Wednesday in their fight against Obama administration regulations, with the Senate voting to strike down a contentious rule meant to speed up union elections. The GOP is employing the seldom-used Congressional Review Act (CRA) to attack the National Labor Relations Board's rule, a strategy that prevented Senate Democrats from blocking the measure.


"Under the statute, Congress can formally disapprove of regulations with a simple majority, as opposed to the 60 votes typically required to overcome the threat of a filibuster. The measure passed by a largely party-line vote of 53-46. The current average for a union election to be held is 38 days after a petition is filed with the NLRB. But Republicans say the 'ambush election' regulation could speed up the process to as few as 11 days, giving businesses little time to prepare. "'Congress needs to tell the National Labor Relations Board that this rule is out of bounds'," said Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), one of the Republicans who introduced the disapproval resolution.


"The union election rule would also require companies to turn over employees' personal cellphone numbers and email addresses to labor organizers. Democrats say this would level the playing field for union organizers, but Republicans complain it is an invasion of privacy. 'There's no limit to how many times union organizers can contact you', Enzi said. "'It undermines employees' privacy at a time when identity theft and cyber crimes are serious business'."


Senate Tries But Cannot Override President's Keystone Pipeline Veto

New York Times (Davenport 3/4) "The Senate on Wednesday failed to override President Obama's veto of a bill that would have approved construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. A bipartisan majority of senators were unable to reach the two-thirds vote required to undo a presidential veto. The vote was 62 to 37.


"The measure's defeat was widely expected, and was the latest twist in the clash over the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, which would move about 800,000 barrels of carbon-heavy petroleum per day from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to ports and refineries on the Gulf Coast. Republicans used the debate on the vote to attack Mr. Obama for his years of delay in making a decision about the pipeline. The State Department has the authority to approve or deny the project because it crosses an international border, but the ultimate decision on the project is expected to come from the president."



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Sixth District
 U. S. Rep. Gary Palmer