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Washington Weekly Update 2-5-24

Situational Awareness
Both the House and Senate are on Capitol Hill this week. In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will seek to kick-start consideration of a national security supplemental that pairs new assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to border security and immigration reform legislation. Ahead of the release of the final bill text, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson announced he would hold a vote on a $17.6 billion aid package to Israel with no corresponding spending cuts, a major policy reversal intended to preempt the Senate’s supplemental package. The House will also consider several federal land transfer bills, legislation that would require NOAA to establish a task force to identify strategies to minimize shark depredation, a bill reauthorizing the Bureau of Reclamation’s authority to assist states and local governments with drought mitigation efforts, and legislation reauthorizing funding for a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant program for fish and wildlife habitat restoration on private land.

House Committee Approves Water Permitting Clarity Legislation
Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved legislation that incorporates language from five standalone bills that ensure regulatory transparency for Clean Water Act permits. The package provides a more transparent process for the creation of water quality standards used by the EPA for wastewater discharge under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. Furthermore, the bill codifies EPA rules that shield NPDES permit holders from lawsuits when they act in good faith. On the Democratic side of the dais, Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (R-Wash.) said the bill needs to be viewed in the context of Sackett as it seeks to further narrow the scope of discharges subject to the review of EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Three amendments from Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) were approved during the markup, including an amendment that would require the EPA to issue official guidance to its regional offices on how to implement the Sackett decision and the Biden administration’s updated WOTUS guidance. 

The Committee also approved the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2023, which prohibits the EPA or states from requiring permits under NPDES for the discharge of pesticides into navigable waters if the pesticides are registered, used for their intended purpose(s) and used in compliance with pesticide label requirements. 

House Committee Hearing on SBA’s Small Business Size Standards
On Tuesday, the House Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing to examine the SBA’s Small Business Size Standards, which determine whether a business can be categorized as a “small business” by the government. This classification allows businesses to have access to certain grant programs. In December 2023, the SBA released its Size Standards Methodology to guide its third five-year reassessment of small business size standards on an industry-by-industry basis as required by the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act. 

House Committee Markup of Regulatory Oversight Legislation
The House Oversight Committee will hold a markup of several bills intended to enhance Congressional oversight over federal agencies’ rulemaking processes:

  • The All Economic Regulations are Transparent (ALERT) Act of 2023, would require agencies to submit monthly updates to the Office of Information Regulatory Affairs on their regulatory plans, including specific information on expected costs and other economic effects. The bill would also prohibit agencies from promulgating new rules for which online updates haven’t been available for at least six months. 
  • The Information Quality Assurance Act of 2024 would require agencies to rely on “reasonably available” scientific, technical, demographic, economic, financial and statistical information to support new rules and guidance.

The markup can be interpreted as a reaction by the House GOP majority to a series of updated rules recently released by various federal agencies that further restrict businesses’ workplace practices, such as the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule and finalized independent contractor rule. 

New Louisiana Lawsuit Against Army Corps on Water Permit Authority
A private developer in Louisiana has filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers claiming the agency is unlawfully requiring developers to obtain a federal permit to develop wetlands on private properties in spite of the Sackett ruling which narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, asks the court to prevent the Corps from requiring Juban Land Holdings to obtain a permit to develop the property. In December, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Eastern Louisiana, ruled in favor of a landowner who had filed a suit against the Corps over the agency’s application of Sackett when determining whether a culvert was a “continuous surface connection.” The court held that the Lewis property was not subject to CWA jurisdiction even though a culvert on the property connected to a “relatively permanent water” which connects to another “relatively permanent water” which connects to a “traditional navigable water.”

Exceptional Education and Events at the 2024 National Club Conference

The 20th National Club Conference, April 28-30 at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort in Frisco, Texas features key education topics to drive your club to greater success, including sessions analyzing rising health care costs, the economic landscape of the private club industry, investment information and much more. Social and networking events include a Middleby Innovation Kitchens Tour—perfect for GMs and staff; night golf; an optional PGA Headquarters tour and other exciting activities. Learn more about #NCC24 and register here.