Elections have consequences. There will now be closer alignment on legislative priorities between the House and Senate, and the result will be more legislation being sent to the President for his signature. Whether he will enact or veto that legislation is an open question and will depend on whether the Congress decides to pursue a limited, consensus agenda with the President or decides to use the legislative process to highlight differences between the parties.
We expect energy legislation will be considered in the next two years, and it will include nuclear energy and used nuclear fuel management provisions. Certainly in the case of used fuel management, there are a lot of new members whose positions will need to be determined, and stumbling blocks that have hindered enactment of legislation still remain. However, serious consideration of legislation will resume, and NEI will strongly support that effort.
The tone of congressional oversight will also change, with new chairmen in the Senate giving direction more in-line with the direction we’ve seen from the House in recent years. In recent years, Chairman Barbara Boxer has engaged in strong oversight from the committee on Environment and Public Works, but it has tended to focus on the two nuclear plants in California. Under Republican leadership, we expect the committee to take a broader view and focus on the conduct of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the impact of its regulatory programs, especially as it continues its post-Fukushima regulatory work.