Pallone Highlights Committee Activity in First 100 Days
On the 100th day of the 116th Congress, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) highlighted the Committee’s activity up to this point of strengthening the economy, creating good paying jobs, providing much-needed relief to consumers, combating climate change and conducting robust oversight.
“As we complete the first 100 days of this new Congress, the Energy and Commerce Committee is beginning to fulfill our promise to strengthen the economy, reduce costs for consumers, combat climate change and conduct robust oversight of the Trump Administration,” Pallone said. “We’re putting consumers first by making health care and prescription drug costs more affordable, and by reversing harmful policies that undermine critical health care, environmental and consumer protections. This is just the beginning, and we’ll continue to fight to fulfill our promises for the people.”
Strengthening the Economy & Creating Good Paying Jobs:
- Restoring a free and open internet to spark innovation and protect small businesses: Passed through Full Committee and the Communications and Technology Subcommittee the Save the Internet Act, which was then passed by the House on Wednesday by a vote of 232-190. This bill restores net neutrality protections, strengthens our economy by promoting innovation and small businesses, and ensures that consumers have control over their internet experience rather than large corporations.
- Ensuring U.S. economy is not left behind in transition to green energy economy: Passed through Full Committee H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, which prevents President Trump from withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. With nearly 200 nations party to the Agreement, we can either lead that transition or watch as American workers and industries get left behind. The bill now heads to the full House.
- Investing in energy efficiency and creating diverse energy workforce: Held a legislative hearing on April 10 on eight bills that invest in America’s energy infrastructure and help create a diverse workforce. Together, the bills provide increased funding for energy efficiency programs that will save consumers and businesses money on their energy bills. H.R. 1315 also invests in job training resources to help build and support a new energy sector workforce.
- Examining the impact of mergers on jobs, consumers and competition: The Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on February 13 to explore the effects of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger on jobs, innovation, costs to consumers and competition.
- Exploring the lack of diversity in the technology industry and its impact on our economy: The Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee held a hearing on March 6 about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. People of color, women and older Americans are largely absent from this workforce, and the decisions these companies make impact our economy in many ways.
- Protecting workers from dangerous chemicals: Held a hearing on March 13 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mismanagement of chemical risks and its failure to protect workers. With more than 50,000 workers dying each year from occupational diseases, Committee leaders made the case that protecting our economy starts by protecting our workforce.
Putting Consumers First by Reducing Costs & Reversing Harmful Policies:
- Making health care more affordable and reversing sabotage of health care system: Passed through Full Committee and the Health Subcommittee six bills that will make health care more affordable, expand access to care, protect people with pre-existing conditions and reverse the Trump Administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. The bills now head to the House floor.
- Making prescription drugs more affordable: Passed through Full Committee six bills that will help make prescription drugs more affordable by removing barriers that delay more affordable generics from coming to market. The bills now head to the House floor.
- Exposing the impact of the Republican ACA lawsuit on the American health care system: the Health Subcommittee held a hearing on the impacts of the Texas v. United States lawsuit if it were successful, which would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health care and eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions. Joined multiple House Committee leaders in sending letters to Trump Administration officials seeking justification for their decision to refuse to defend the ACA in court.
- Protecting consumers’ privacy and data security: Released a Government Accountability Report (GAO) report recommending that Congress develop comprehensive internet data privacy legislation to enhance consumer protections while maintaining flexibility to address a rapidly evolving Internet. Then the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee held its first privacy hearing this Congress as the Committee begins the process of developing comprehensive privacy and data security legislation.
- Holding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) accountable for its inability to fulfill its mission of protecting consumers from dangerous products: CPSC’s role is to protect consumers from dangerous products, but the agency has become inactive under the Trump administration, issuing fewer recalls and safety standards and imposing fewer and smaller penalties than in years past. On April 9, after multiple oversight letters detailing concerns about CPSC’s work, the Committee held a hearing with the CPSC Commissioners and consumer advocates to explore how the Commission could better protect Americans from dangerous products.
Combating Climate Change:
- Preventing Trump from withdrawing from landmark Paris Climate Agreement: Passed through Full Committee H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, which prevents President Trump from withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement and requires him to submit a plan for meeting our obligations under that accord so that we can be a global leader in combating climate change. The bill now goes to the House floor.
- Holding climate change hearings for the first time in six years: The Committee has held three hearings specifically on climate change, and a total of six hearings on subjects impacting our changing climate after the previous Republican majority refused to schedule a single hearing on the global crisis over the last six years. To date, the specific climate hearings examined the environmental and economic effects of climate change, filling the leadership void caused by federal inaction and state and local leaders’ response to the climate crisis.
- Demanding answers from Department of Energy on missed energy efficiency standards deadlines: Energy Efficiency Standards not only save consumers money on their energy bills, they are also a critical tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On March 7, the Energy Subcommittee held a hearing with Department of Energy officials demanding to know why they are failing to finalize or update 16 different efficiency standards as required by law.
- Holding EPA accountable for their rollback of climate change policies: In February the Committee renewed their demand for information related to EPA’s plans to roll back the Clean Power Plan, fuel economy standards and the methane rule – three Obama-era rules critical to limiting carbon emissions and combating climate change.
- Demanding answers for EPA’s efforts to roll back Clean Air Standards: In January the Committee demanded documents and information related to EPA’s proposed rollback of mercury and air toxics standards, which a Harvard University study found would result in the deaths of 80,000 more Americans each decade.
Conducting Robust Oversight:
- The Committee has sent 36 sets of letters to the Trump Administration and to companies during this Congress as part of its oversight responsibility of the agencies and issues within its jurisdiction.
- Demanding answers on the skyrocketing price of insulin: Held two-part hearing on the skyrocketing cost of insulin with patient advocates, manufacturers and pharmacy middlemen. Committee leaders also sent oversight letters to pharmaceutical companies requesting answers on the root causes of rising costs.
- Investigating junk Short-Term Insurance Plans that put consumers at risk: Committee leaders are conducting an ongoing investigation into junk insurance plans expanded by the Trump Administration that may be misleading consumers into purchasing plans that leave them with significant financial risk.
- Conducting oversight of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) role in carrying out the Trump Administration’s inhumane Family Separation Policy: The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is conducting an ongoing investigation into family separation including questioning key HHS officials on their role in implementing the policy and their chaotic efforts to reunify children with their families.
- Successfully urged HHS Inspector General to investigate Administrator Verma’s use of millions of taxpayer dollars on GOP consultants: Chairman Pallone requested the Inspector General review whether Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma adhered to federal regulations and ethics requirements. The Inspector General agreed to conduct a review in a letter to bicameral Committee leaders.
- Protecting consumers from contaminated drugs: Bipartisan Committee leaders asked the Food and Drug Administration for a briefing on a series of recalls that appear to involve possible contaminated drugs manufactured overseas.
- Investigating failures at Indian Health Service Hospitals (IHS): Bipartisan Committee leaders are conducting a review of reports of medical errors and systemic failures at IHS hospitals. The Committee requested updates on corrective actions taken to date as well as updates on the agency’s strategy to ensure improvements are made at IHS facilities nationwide.
- Investigating EPA’s lack of enforcement measures: Grilled EPA on its stark enforcement record, demanding to know why it is conducting the fewest investigations of any EPA in recent times and relying on industry to voluntarily come forward with their violations.
- Investigating EPA officials’ ties to secretive industry group: Committee leaders sent a series of letters yesterday demanding information and documents related to William Wehrum’s and David Harlow’s relationship with the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), a secretive front group funded by utility companies and devoted to rolling back Clean Air Act regulations. Wehrum is EPA’s top air policy official while Harlow serves as his department’s senior counsel.