January 5, 2015

114th U.S. Congress Convenes Tomorrow And Will Focus On Energy Legislation While White House Focuses On Trade

Members of the 114th Congress will take their oaths of office tomorrow and are expected to begin work right away on legislation that would take authority to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline away from the executive branch and give it to the legislative branch. 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which is led by the bill’s sponsor Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), will hold a hearing on the legislation on Wednesday and is expected to report it out of committee the following day. The full Senate should vote on the bill soon after, perhaps at the end of this week or the beginning of next. According to Voice of America, the “bill will most likely have a few more than the 60 votes needed to pass, but lack the 67 votes needed to overcome a presidential veto.” 

Although President Barack Obama has not said whether or not he plans to veto the bill, he did downplay the economic significance of the pipeline at an end-of-the-year press conference in December, which could indicate he is leaning toward a veto. MSCI encourages its member companies and their employees to call the White House to ask the president to either approve the pipeline himself or support Sen. Murkowski’s legislation. Learn how to contact the White House here

It is unclear when the U.S. House will vote on the legislation, but Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has promised it is a priority. 

While members of the Republican-led Congress will focus on energy legislation in the early months of 2015, The Washington Post and The New York Times report President Obama will focus on promoting free trade agreements – an issue on which he and Republicans leaders are likely to agree. As a reminder, while MSCI supports free trade in general, it will only support individual agreements that include strong provisions to address currency manipulation.