THE SOURCE - Fall 2015 - (Page 33)

legislative outlook Congress Increases Productivity with Energy Issues in the Spotlight By Scott Morrison and Dan Lapato After an uninspired start to the 114th Congress with partisan discord and general dysfunction ruling the debate about the Department of Homeland Security's appropriations bill, Congress may have turned the corner toward productivity. In a particularly surprising turn, Congress passed and President Obama signed a small entitlement reform bill that fixed the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that pays Medicare doctors. Since its passage into law in 1997, the SGR was supposed to check the rising health costs by tying doctors' reimbursements through Medicare to economic growth. The issue was that health costs increased much faster than economic growth forcing Congress to periodically prevent the SGR formula from being implemented to prevent doctors' pay from being cut dramatically. Congress passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan long-term fix to the SGR in April, which would tie increased physician payments modestly overall and moving forward would tie reimbursement to the quality of care they provide. This season of bipartisanship is now being put to the test by an intraDemocratic party struggle between President Obama and some Senate Democrats over trade promotion authority (TPA). TPA, which is strongly supported by Senate Republicans, would give the President the authority to bring negotiated trade agreements to Congress and the agreement would only require an up or down vote on the deal with no amendments. This authority is relevant given that President Obama has been negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a very large free trade agreement with 12 countries. Senate Democrats believe that this agreement would harm workers and the environment; while Republicans and the President believe that the TPP includes significant worker and environmental protection provisions while also vastly expanding U.S. export markets and strengthening the country's influence in Asia. The TPA debate began in the Senate, and House leadership believes it has the votes for passage. The Senate is currently considering amendments to the TPA, which the administration and many in the Senate oppose as "poison pills" for the successful completion of negotiations for the TPP. It appears that these amendments will fail, TPA authority will pass Congress, and the 114th Congress will have another bipartisan notch on its legislative belt. While the TPA drama has been unfolding, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources have quietly been putting together their respective comprehensive energy bills. The House committee has held several subcommittee hearings on efficiency and permitting titles of its proposed energy bills. The key provisions thus far in the House draft bills are: 1. A provision of the draft legislation that repeals Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which prohibits the use of fossil-fuel generated energy in new or modified federal buildings by 2030; » continued on page 34 This season of bipartisanship is now being put to the test by an intra-Democratic party struggle between President Obama and some Senate Democrats THE SOURCE | FALL 2015, VOL. 8, ISSUE 1 33

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of THE SOURCE - Fall 2015

First Person
APGA Events
Q&A: Senator Gardner
APGA Responds to Efficiency Standards
Georgia Forms New State Association
Greenest CNG Station Opens in Tennessee
Factors that Fuel the Decision to Switch to CNG
Emerging CSST Products
Debut of the Gas Equipment & Appliance Conference
New Management Program for a Growing System
Shale and Natural Gas Lead U.S. Manufacturing Resurgence
Legislative Outlook
The Pipeline
Marketing Matters
Advertisers’ Index/Advertiser.com
At Last

THE SOURCE - Fall 2015

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