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Energy Secretary Rick Perry will testify before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee next Thursday. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Energy secretary Rick Perry will testify before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee next Thursday, lawmakers announced yesterday. The hearing's focus is supposed to be broad, but expect lots of questions about Perry's instantly controversial proposal to shake up power market rules by ensuring coal and nuclear plants are compensated for their "reliability and resilience" attributes.

Why the stakes are high: Perry is catching lots of flak from critics who call the plan a naked attempt to prop up power sources that are increasingly on the losing end of competition from natural gas and renewables.

If Perry isn't able to mount a convincing and detailed defense of why he asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to craft the rules, it will bolster opponents who say the move is more about rewarding favored power sources than ensuring grid reliability and resilience in the event of disasters.

What else to look for: Whether influential House GOP lawmakers who oversee energy policy — including Energy and Commerce chairman Greg Walden and energy subcommittee head Fred Upton — start tipping their hand about what they think of the underlying proposal.

Interest is running high: There's mounting concern about the fast pace of the rulemaking process, specifically FERC's request for initial comments from outside parties by Oct. 23. One new sign: yesterday a suite of groups representing independent oil-and-gas producers asked FERC for at least a 90 day initial comment period.

  • Their motion, which adds to requests from other gas and renewables trade groups, says FERC should quickly signal that it's slowing down the process in order to "reassure markets...that adequate time and resources" will be devoted to the topic.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.