Dodd-Frank Change Among Bills Overtaken by Shutdown

Measures affecting Dodd-Frank Act requirements and the first bill to increase U.S. port dredging since 2007 won’t move forward in Congress while the government remains shut down, according to two Republican leadership aides.

The House probably won’t move legislation on any topic other than government funding until a deal is reached to end the current impasse, according to the aides, who spoke on condition of not being identified in discussing legislative strategy.

One of the Dodd-Frank bills would narrow what’s known as the swaps push-out rule, which requires insured depository institutions to hand their swaps activities to affiliates. The other would require the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to identify potential effects on investors before setting rules to implement the law passed in 2010.

Both those bills, H.R. 992 and H.R. 2374, were so far along that an open meeting was set for Sept. 28 to determine how many amendments would be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives. The meeting was put off indefinitely.

The House had tentatively set aside part of next week to debate the port-dredging measure, H.R. 3080. The shutdown and efforts to resolve the impasse have clouded that schedule.

At least 20 Republicans have said they would support a clean spending bill, enough to guarantee passage if Democrats also supported such a measure. There’s no indication House Speaker John Boehner, who has sought to defund or delay the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare, would bring such a bill to the House floor.

Important Diversion

“We’re going through something now that’s pretty important to the nation,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster said in an interview. “Hopefully it won’t throw us too far off” the timeframe for the dredging bill, said the Pennsylvania Republican.

Among the projects that the measure would authorize are dredging of the Sabine-Neches Waterway on the Texas-Louisiana border and deepening the Port of Savannah, which accounted for about 11 percent of U.S. container exports over the past fiscal year, according to the Georgia Ports Authority’s website.

The Sabine-Neches dredging would increase import and export capacity for Texas and Louisiana refineries owned by companies including Valero Energy Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Cheniere Energy Inc., and Motiva Enterprises LLC.

The dredging bill would “enhance efficiencies of our refinery in Port Arthur, Texas,” said Bill Day, a Valero spokesman.

Deepening Savannah’s harbor will cut shipping costs for companies such as Caterpillar Inc., a Peoria, Illinois-based machinery manufacturer which cited the port in choosing to build a $200 million plant in Athens, Georgia.

Spending Authorization

The legislation would authorize the federal government to spend about $779 million of the $1.1 billion needed for Sabine-Neches dredging, while contributing $461 million to the $662 million Savannah project.

If the shutdown persists, it may also delay House consideration of a bill to block the implementation of federal regulations dealing with hydraulic fracturing, H.R. 2728, as well as action on border-security legislation.

Both issues were mentioned in a Sept. 6 memo to House Republicans from Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican.

Also in limbo: the appointment of House members to a conference committee that will work out differences between the House and Senate versions of a measure dealing with farm subsidies, H.R. 2642. House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has the final say on the Republicans who’ll handle that task. He plays a key role in the impasse and the effort to resolve it and end the resulting shutdown.

“The question is when will the speaker have time to focus on that, given all the other issues going on,” House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, said in an interview.

(Updates with 20 House Republicans supporting clean stopgap funding measure in sixth paragraph.)
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