February 26, 2013

20 senators to Kerry: Approve Keystone XL

Approve the Keystone XL pipeline in the next month, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and 19 other senators are saying in a letter to the new secretary of state, their former Senate colleague John Kerry.

(Full text of the Feb. 22 letter and Hagan's news release today is here. For the names of those who signed, click on the text link.)

The pipeline would carry oil from the tarsands of Alberta, Canada, to ports on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas (latest McClatchy story on it here). Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because of the heat-trapping emissions from producing and using the oil, and because of threats of spills along the line.

The bipartisan group of senators told Kerry to approve the pipeline quickly. “Further delay will continue to hurt job creation and may damage our relationship with Canada,” they write.

Continue reading "20 senators to Kerry: Approve Keystone XL" »

February 09, 2013

GOP talks about energy in weekly address

Republicans used their weekly address to discuss energy Saturday, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, outlined a plan for energy efficiency.

“Energy is not a necessary evil.  Energy is good.  And that’s why it is in our national interest to make energy abundant, affordable, clean, diverse, and secure," said Murkowski, top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

She offered about 200 recommendations.  "These span the spectrum of resources and reforms, from the immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to a trust fund for energy research that is paid for with the revenues from new production," Murkowski said.

"Every recommendation in my blueprint is associated with a clear goal for the year 2020.  We can end our dependence on OPEC oil.  We can help make renewable energy more competitive, build on our efficiency gains, and re-establish the supply chain for critical minerals.  We can ensure that research, and not endless regulation, is the force behind technological innovation.  Through sensible regulatory reforms, we can prevent the misuse of environmental laws and allow projects to proceed—and all the while maintaining the highest environmental standards in the world."

She urged listeners to go to energy.senate.gov to learn more.


February 01, 2013

Energy Department's Steven Chu is out

President Obama today hailed his energy secretary Steven Chu, who announced he won't serve a second term.

Obama in a statement said the Nobel Prize winning scientist, "brought to the Energy Department a unique understanding of both the urgent challenge presented by climate change and the tremendous opportunity that clean energy represents for our economy."

Obama said Chu helped the administration move the U.S. toward "real energy independence" and that in the past four years, the administration has doubled the use of renewable energy, "dramatically reduced our dependence on foreign oil, and put our country on a path to win the global race for clean energy jobs."

Chu in a lengthy letter to energy department employees called the job "the greatest privilege of my life," adding that "while the job has had many challenges, it has been an exciting time for the Department, the country, and for me personally."

He made no mention of the controversy over how he handled the restructuring of a loan for the California solar-energy company Solyndra.

Republicans have assailed the administration for the company's demise, but Chu has said he did nothing illegal but instead made a tough decision that gave him the best shot at getting taxpayer money back that had been loaned to the company.

He concluded his letter with a plea for action on climate change, writing "we don’t want our children to ask, 'What were our parents thinking? Didn't they care about us?"

December 30, 2012

Obama on his second term: Immigration will be a priority

President Obama says in a close of the year interview today that fixing the country's "broken immigration system is a top priority."

He vowed in the Meet the Press interview to introduce legislation in the first year. "We've talked about it long enough, we know how we can fix it. We can do it in a comprehensive way that the American people support. That's something we should get done."

Obama says his second priority will be to "stabilize the economy and make sure it's growing." That will include deficit reduction -- and spending on infrastructure, including roads, bridges and schools.

He also called energy a priority, saying the U.S. could become an energy exporter, but that it has to be balanced with environmental concerns.

November 27, 2012

House Republicans recommend committee chairs

    House of Representatives Republicans will formally pick committee chairmen Wednesday for the 113th Congress, which starts in January.
    Here are the recommendations from the House Republican Steering Committee:

Agriculture – Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)

Appropriations – Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)

Armed Services – Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA)

Budget – Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Education and the Workforce – Rep. John Kline (R-MN)

Energy and Commerce – Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)

Financial Services – Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)

Foreign Affairs – Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)

Homeland Security – Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX)

Intelligence – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI)

Judiciary – Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)

Natural Resources – Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)

Oversight and Government Reform – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)

Rules – Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)

Science, Space, and Technology – Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Small Business – Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)

Transportation and Infrastructure – Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA)

Veterans’ Affairs – Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)

Ways and Means – Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)

November 03, 2012

Romney gives weekly GOP address, says "The choice before you is clear"

Mitt Romney Saturday offered the nation his closing argument in the Republicans' weekly radio address, asking voters to set the country on a new course.

"The choice before you is clear:  We can wait four more years for real change … or we can take things in a new direction in just a few short days," the Republican presidential nominee said.

He described how he would quickly pursue five major goals: 

"First, we’ll achieve North American energy independence by the year 2020.  Second, we’ll make sure our students and workers have the skills they need to succeed.

"Third, we’ll promote trade that works for America—and crack down on countries like China when they cheat.

"Fourth, we’ll cut the deficit from Day One—and balance our budget within 10 years. And finally we’ll champion our small businesses, the engine of job creation in this country."

Romney added, "Look, I know we face big challenges, and we don’t need more catchphrases or word games.  We don’t need more of the same petty partisan attacks.  We need a leader, a leader with a real plan that will deliver real results.

"My opponents have spent much of this campaign talking about small things.  But the challenges we face are real and they are big.  That’s why Paul Ryan and I are focused on how we can make our way back to prosperity and opportunity, how we can rebuild a strong military and fashion a strong economy."

To read the entire address: http://www.mittromney.com/blog/mitt-romney-delivers-weekly-republican-address

October 20, 2012

New Romney ad takes aim at a second Obama term

Mitt Romney's key theme lately has been that President Barack Obama has no second term agenda. Saturday, the Republican presidential nominee said it in a new ad.

The new spot asks "what will the next four years be like" if Obama wins. The ad maintains "the (federal) debt will grow from 16 trillion to 20 trillion dollars.”

And, it says, "twenty million Americans could lose their employer-based health care," a figure many health care overhaul supporters dispute.

“Three," the ad says, " taxes on the middle class will go up by $4,000.” That number comes from the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

"Four, energy prices will continue to go up," the ad maintains. While prices are higher now than they were at the start of Obama's term, a fact sheet cites current trends only.

“And five, $716 billion in Medicare cuts that hurt current seniors.” The savings will be determined several ways, notably by an independent panel that will make recommendations.

“Five reasons we can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama," the ad says.

September 20, 2012

McConnell: "Never before has a president and a Senate done so little"

Congress is hoping to recess this week until after the Nov. 6 election, and that means lawmakers are taking final swipes at the opposition.

Republicans took to the Senate floor Thursday to blast Democrats, with GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisting, "We’ve got multiple crisis-level issues to deal with. And yet Democrats don’t want to do a thing.

"Never before has a President and a Senate done so little to confront challenges so great."

Democrats plan to respond later Thursday.

Continue reading "McConnell: "Never before has a president and a Senate done so little"" »

August 23, 2012

Romney unveiling energy independence plan

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to unveil Thursday a series of steps aimed at moving the nation closer to energy independence.

He'll speak in New Mexico, and offer a bluepring tht includes empoewring states to control onshore energy development, open offshore areas for such development, and pursue a North American Energy Partnership.

Other highlights: ensuring "accurae assessment" of energy resources, regulatory reform that restores "transparency and fairness to permitting and regulation," and encouraging private sector-led energy technology development.

To read more: http://www.mittromney.com/blogs/mitts-view/2012/08/mitt-romney-sets-goal-north-american-energy-independence-2020


August 21, 2012

Americans' confidence in economy remains low on eve of conventions

On the eve of the national political conventions, Americans' confidence in the economy remains dismal--not a good sign for incumbents.

A new Gallup survey found 43 percent of Americans rated the economy as poor, compared to 13 percent who saw it as good. Earlier in the year, confidence was higher.

"Whatever happens going forward, the continuing negative views of the economy Gallup has measured over this summer so far show no signs of any upward shift in Americans' economic optimism," a poll analysis said.

It saw higher gasoline prices as perhaps responsible for the latest results, and suggested prices could fall at the end of summer.  "On the other hand, the stock market has been generally moving up since June, yet that hasn't seemed to improve Americans' perceptions -- meaning other issues are influencing their views of the economy, including the jobs situation," Gallup said.

To read the complete report: http://www.gallup.com/poll/156809/economic-confidence-stable-low-level.aspx


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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