Christopher L. Rissetto

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Your Monthly Threat of Government Shutdown?

Those of us who follow the Hill are beginning to feel like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day: waking to news of another potential shutdown, we wonder if we will spend the next 13 months until November 2012 in a state of permanent impending doom. Most remember the partisan bickering over spending levels that almost … Continue Reading

President Obama’s jobs plan proposes spending on infrastructure. What will Congress do?

Earlier this month, President Obama proposed a $447 billion package of tax cuts and new spending to help the economy. In a joint session to Congress, the President laid out the terms of his proposal, which includes over $100 million for upgrading highways; mass transit; rail, both freight and intercity; aviation; schools; and local neighborhoods … Continue Reading

Brother, can you spare a dime? With Members of the “Super Committee” appointed, work begins in earnest to find $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in cuts to the federal debt

As we noted last week, the $900 million cut from the federal budget to avoid default of the nation’s debt obligations is only just the beginning. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (“Act”) guarantees that another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion will be cut from the federal debt over the next ten years (Public Law 112-35). … Continue Reading

The Satan Sandwich is in the Details: Breaking Down the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Role of the Joint Select Committee on the Deficit Reduction.

Last week, the House of Representatives and the Senate each voted to pass the Budget Control Act of 2011 (“Act”) raising the nation’s debt limit and averting the real threat of a default on our debt obligations. President Barack Obama promptly signed it into law the same day, narrowly averting default (Public Law 112-35). However, … Continue Reading

Anchors Aweigh! U.S. Navy to Sail on Biofuels

This post was also written by Philip G. Lookadoo and Marco A. DeSousa. In another move demonstrating the Defense Department’s commitment to renewable energy, the U.S. Navy recently announced that it intends to make its largest purchase of biofuels ever for a test run in 2012 of its “Great Green Fleet.” For several years the Navy, as … Continue Reading

Congress makes an effort to address the growing transportation infrastructure backlog

A flurry of legislative activity in the House of Representatives and Senate on measures affecting transportation infrastructure projects may signal movement on a multi-year spending in the 112th Congress. The need is clearly there: the American Society of Civil Engineers (“ASCE”) in its 2009 “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure“, 33% of America’s major roads were … Continue Reading

Elected officials beware: Your vote does not equal free speech

Across the country, federal, state and local governments have enacted – and strengthened – conflict of interest restrictions on how their elected officials vote as a way to prevent those officials from voting in their own self-interest To those who argue that such a restriction on voting violates his or her First Amendment Right to … Continue Reading

Decision Do-Over? Future Uncertain for Virginia Decision Expanding Reach of Citizens United

Just as the 2012 political races are heating up and taking shape, Judge James Cacheris of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia expanded the reach of Citizens United v. FEC, 130 U.S. 876 (2010), by rendering unconstitutional limits on corporate contributions to federal candidates. In the opinion, filed May 26, 2011, Judge … Continue Reading

Consider Grant Remedies Before Repaying Uncle Sam

At times, Federal grantees reconsider the wisdom of applying for, and spending, Federal grant dollars. Unfortunately, the result of such reconsideration is a demand by the Federal grantor to repay the grant funds already spent. A grantee facing this predictable Federal decision-making has a number of options before pulling out the peoples’ checkbook (or running … Continue Reading

The debate on raising the debt limit: We’ve seen this movie before.

In April, the President and Congressional Republicans agreed on a deal to cut $38.5 billion in discretionary spending from the federal budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2011, averting the threat of a government shutdown. As we have noted however, that decision was “easy” when compared with the more difficult decisions Congress and … Continue Reading

Joint congressional hearing this Thursday on Obama Administration proposal disclosing political contributions by government contractors.

The Chairs of the House Oversight and Government Reform and Small Business Committees have announced a joint hearing of their respective committees on a sweeping proposal by the Obama Administration requiring the disclosure of political contributions and expenditures by those bidding on government contracts. The Public Policy and Infrastructure Group has been monitoring this draft … Continue Reading

Are additional restrictions on political spending by government contractors coming from the Obama Administration?

The Internet has been ablaze over the past 24 hours with reports that the Obama Administration is considering requiring “all entities submitting offers for federal contracts to disclose certain political contributions and expenditures that they have made within two years prior to the submission of their offer”. This was first disclosed by Hans A. von … Continue Reading

At the 11th hour, an agreement was reached on the US Fiscal Year 2011 budget. That was the “easy” part.

Late Friday evening, with only minutes remaining before a partial shutdown of the federal government, the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republicans came to an agreement on spending and policy decisions necessary to fund the federal government for the remaining six months of Fiscal Year 2011. In the end, $38.5 billion was cut from … Continue Reading

Ending Collective Bargaining Rights of Public Employees. Is this a Case of Cutting off your Nose to Spite your Face?

Attention has been fixated on efforts in Wisconsin and other states as governors seek concessions from public employee unions in efforts to balance their budgets. Governor Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin has gone the furthest, so far, by seeking to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public employee union, prompting Democrats in the State Senate … Continue Reading

The Power of the Subpoena: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its next Chairman, Representative Darryl Issa

What can the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigate? Pretty much anything it wants. With Republicans taking over the majority in the House of Representatives, the incoming Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA-49), is set to move forward on an aggressive plan of oversight of the Executive … Continue Reading

Do the Midterm Election Results mean a Recipe for Gridlock?

The midterm elections are (finally) over. With the Republicans taking over the House of Representatives next year and the Democrats keeping control of the Senate, albeit by a smaller margin, the question is what, if anything, will get accomplished in the 112th Congress? Overall, the chance for passage of major legislative initiatives in areas such … Continue Reading

How lame will it be? Congress will return on November 15th for a lame duck session.

In Washington, all attention right now is on the rapidly approaching midterm congressional elections and the efforts by Democrats to retain their majorities in both houses of Congress. However, regardless of whether Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives or Senate, members of Congress are expected to return to Washington on November 15th to … Continue Reading

Vote for this and we will support you! How the new definition of coordinated communications affects political speech in the wake of Citizens United.

The Public Policy and Infrastructure Practice continues to monitor the changes in the campaign finance world since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Citizens United reverses decades of statutory and case law that prohibit corporations from using their general treasuries to fund independent political advertising supporting or opposing candidates … Continue Reading

Congress’ cap-and-trade action likely means EPA regulates GHGs beginning Jan. 2, 2011

This post was also written by Larry Demase, Jennifer Smokelin, and David Wagner. In the weeks that have passed since our previous article on climate change activity in Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, it has become evident that Washington is more likely to see a snowstorm this summer than congressional passage of a cap-and-trade measure … Continue Reading

Post Gulf Oil Spill: Will Climate Change Be Part of Federal Energy Initiatives?

This post was also written by Larry Demase. Summary The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has increased the chances that Congress will send energy-related legislation to the President’s desk before the midterm congressional elections in November. We note that last year the House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate H.R. 2454, the … Continue Reading

DOE Grant Announcements: Solar, Marine & Hydrokinetic Technologies

This post was also written by Henry King. Overview The Department of Energy (“DOE”) has announced the availability of more than $171 million in grants, cooperative agreements, and technology-investment agreements “to expand and accelerate the development, commercialization, and use of solar and water power technologies throughout the United States”.  This funding continues a strong emphasis in … Continue Reading

TIGER II Roars Again: Continuation of Stimulus Act Transportation Funding

This post was also written by Jonathan Benner and Matt Thomas. The Department of Transportation has announced the availability of $600 million in grants for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure for projects that “will have a significant impact on the Nation; a metropolitan area; or a region” (Docket No. DOT-OST-2010-0076).  This program is a continuation … Continue Reading