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FY 15 Omnibus spending legislation sent to the President for signature. This past weekend, the Senate finished work on an omnibus spending bill, Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (“Act”), which funds most of the federal government for the remainder of FY 15. The House of Representatives passed this legislation last week and it now heads to the President’s desk for his promised signature. This legislation contains billions in new spending to fight the…
The Public Policy & Infrastructure practice continues to monitor the rollout of the “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”). The comment period for this proposed rule closed November 14, 2014. The purpose for this rule – ostensibly – is to settle 40 years of debate as to what constitutes waters of the United States under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act,…
The recent accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that severely injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan has focused attention – again – on issues of safety in the operations of commercial motor vehicles.  The driver in the accident which injured Morgan, killed comedian James McNair, and injured several others purportedly had not slept in 24 hours.  There are a number of regulations in place to help reduce driver fatigue which, in the aftermath of this…
Two recent important developments in Congress illustrate the opportunities, and limits, in financing infrastructure projects in today’s Washington.  First, the House of Representatives and the Senate, by overwhelming margins, agreed to a conference report ironing out the differences on H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (“WRRDA”), which pays for navigation, dredging, and flood protection projects throughout the country.  The legislation heads to the President’s desk for his expected signature.  Second,…
In April, the Department of Energy announced a draft loan guarantee solicitation that could make as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees to help commercialize renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The loan program seeks to promote “technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment today,” according to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. The DOE is accepting comments from the public before finalizing the solicitation, but the comment period ends May 27, 2014.…
After years of study, litigation, controversy – and mayhem – the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”), on April 21, 2014, jointly published, for comment, a new definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). 79 Fed. Reg. 22188-22275. It is not easy to overestimate the scope and reach of this proposed rule. While it is purportedly aimed at clarifying which wetlands and streams qualify for…
The Supreme Court decided last week in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission that aggregate donation limits, which capped the total on how much someone can contribute to candidates and political parties, per election, violated the free speech protections of the First Amendment, 572 U.S. ____(2014).  If this sounds familiar, it should:  the Court used similar reasoning in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, to hold that restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns also violated the
The Department of Transportation (“DOT”) is once again soliciting requests for surface transportation infrastructure projects. This began in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“Recovery Act”) under the Grants for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Program, commonly called “TIGER.” The popularity of this program has endured through the years, even though the total funding amount has decreased and the name is, technically, no longer TIGER. This year the DOT is providing $600 million…
In December 2013, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) released its long-awaited final guidance for grants and other Federal non-procurement awards, entitled “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.” See 78 Fed. Reg. 78589. Also referred to as “the Super Circular,” this final guidance is “a key component of a larger Federal effort to more effectively focus Federal resources on improving performance and outcomes while ensuring the financial integrity…
After years of alleging that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) relied on undisclosed and unverifiable data upon which to base its regulations, at least some Members of the U.S. House of Representative have decided to intervene.  On February 6, 2014, David Schweikert (R-AZ-6), Chair of the Subcommittee on Environment, in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, joined by Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R TX-21) and a total of 18 co-sponsors, introduced the…