Friday, January 9, 2009

Waxman Reorganizes Energy and Commerce

There are two interesting things on the new House Energy and Commerce web site today. There is little explanation accompanying these items, so I may be reading more into them than was intended by the Democratic Leadership. It seems that Energy and Commerce may no longer be responsible (co-responsible?) for chemical security legislation. Green Looses Sub-Committee Chair I reported earlier that Rep Gene Green (D, TX) had hoped to retain his chairmanship of the subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials even though he had backed Dingell instead of Waxman in their fight for chairmanship of the Committee. Well, according to the list of sub-committee chairs reported on the Committee Website today, Green is no longer chair of that sub-committee. In fact, the sub-committee is no longer listed. Committee Jurisdiction There is a new list of the areas over which the committee will have jurisdiction. There is nothing in that list that says anything about Homeland Security or chemical facilities. I do not have a copy of a similar list from the 110th Congress (and don’t recall ever looking at one), so I cannot tell for sure that this is really a change. HR 261, definitely a chemical facility security bill was assigned to the Energy and Commerce Committee along with the Homeland Security Committee. I looked again at the wording of that assignment and it looks a little peculiar. According to the listing at Thomas.LOC.Gov the bill was assigned “to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Homeland Security, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned”. In light of the changes in sub-committee listings, the jurisdiction listings and the strange assignment language for HR 261, I think that there might be a change in the way that chemical facility security legislation is going to be handled in the 111th Congress. This might also reflect some changes in the way the oversight of DHS in general is going to be handled. Any reduction in the number of committees that DHS has to deal with in Congress will be greatly appreciated, I’m sure. Safe Water Drinking Act The Safe Water Drinking Act is listed as being in the jurisdictional area of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The provisions of HR 5577 in the 110th Congress that brought water treatment and waste water treatment facilities under CFATS would require review by this committee if they are in the newest CFATS reauthorization bill. But that is significantly less control than Chairman Dingle tried to exert. Disclaimer Again, I must add that I am reading tea leaves or looking at the dignitaries at Lenin’s Tomb. I have yet to see anything that clearly states or backs up my ‘conclusions’. But hey, this is a blog, not a journal article. I can get away with some guessing.

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