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CMR on permitting, oversight

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Axios' Jael Holzman

McMorris Rodgers chats with Jael. Photo: Moe Thajib on behalf of Axios

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers sees Congress taking a "sector by sector" approach to overhauling permitting this year.

Why it matters: In a chaotic Congress, it might be more practical for lawmakers to take narrow slices out of environmental laws for specific industries — e.g., nuclear and hydropower.

Driving the news: The House Energy and Commerce chair — who isn't seeking another term — said at an Axios Pro event last night that she's already working with the Senate on nuclear and pipelines permitting.

  • "I think it will probably be more sector by sector. We're gonna negotiate on pipelines … we're continuing to have discussions and negotiate with my Senate colleagues on the nuclear package. That's probably more the approach it's going to be."
  • On hydro, she said with a laugh that a deal will be struck: "It's Cathy's final year, so the Senate has to make this happen!"

Zoom in: McMorris Rodgers believes the White House's implementation of the NEPA changes in the debt ceiling deal have hurt negotiations on a second round permitting deal, echoing concerns from other Republicans.

  • "The way it was implemented, it actually made [permitting processes] longer and more cumbersome," she said.

What's next: The nuclear licensing package McMorris Rodgers mentioned probably has the easiest negotiating glidepath. But look out for talks in the coming months on hydropower and the pipeline reauth.

On oversight, McMorris Rodgers said she'd like John Podesta to testify before her committee.

  • She and Shelley Moore Capito sent a letter to the White House this week questioning whether Podesta's appointment to replace John Kerry as climate envoy is lawful without Senate confirmation.
  • Meanwhile, she gave little new information about her investigation into car companies' ties to China. She reiterated what she told Axios last September: they'll only have to come testify if they don't comply with info requests.
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