Category: Featured

On Sept. 8, 2017 President Trump signed HR 601, an emergency measure negotiated with congressional Democratic leaders, and passed by the Senate 80-17 and by the House 316-90 (all the "no" votes being Republican). The bill has four components:

1.  Provides $15.25 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for Hurricane Harvey and other disasters, including $7.4 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund (passed a day before FEMA’s disaster funds would have been exhausted), $450 million for the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program, and $7.4 billion in Community Development Block Grant funding for areas most affected by the 2017 disasters;

2.  Extends the National Flood Insurance program, which was due to expire September 30, to December 8, 2017;

3.  Suspends the debt ceiling through December 8, 2017, temporarily avoiding a Treasury default on U.S. obligations; and

4. Provides continuing appropriations (effectively, a “continuing resolution”) to fund the federal government at current FY 2017 levels through December 8, 2017, avoiding a federal shutdown when the new fiscal year begins October 1.

While the measure provides much-needed emergency disaster relief, the “fiscal cliff” has only been postponed until December 8th, when a federal shutdown and economically catastrophic default faces the nation absent bipartisan agreement on spending levels and the debt ceiling – both requiring 60 votes in the Senate.

(The exact date of a default crisis will depend on Treasury’s cash balances on December 8 and the timing of government spending on disaster relief.)...

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Tax Cuts and Infrastructure Stalled; October Shutdown, Default Loom

Congress faces a train wreck when they return after Labor Day:

  1. Federal government shutdown looms on October 1st unless Republicans and Democrats reach bipartisan agreement on new federal appropriation caps for FY 2018.
  2. U.S. Treasury default looms in early October as GOP remains deeply divided on how to pass a debt ceiling increase.
  3. Tax Cuts are stalled due to lack of GOP agreement on an FY 2018 Budget Resolution.
  4. Infrastructure investment is stalled due to opposition to public financing and lack of a capital investment budget.
  5. 80% of Americans want to mend, not end, the ACA according to a new survey.

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UPDATE: Appropriations, ’18 Budget, ACA, Debt Ceiling, CBO

This week House leaders are hoping to bring to the Floor an appropriations “minibus” that combines 4 bills: Defense; Energy-Water; Legislative Branch; and Military Construction-VA. A last minute effort by some Members to combine all 12 bills into an omnibus measure appears to have,,,,...

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Updates: Health Bill, Social Security, Budget, Debt Ceiling, Appropriations

  • Senate GOP released a revised health care bill on Thursday which tentatively includes the controversial Cruz amendment that gives insurers the ability to circumvent consumer protections with low-cost, low-coverage plans. The revised bill drops tax cuts for high-income earners, but leaves in place deep cuts in Medicaid.  At the same time, GOP Senators Graham and Cassidy are working on a different alternative that would also keep ACA tax increases but send revenues to the States....
    • President’s Budget Runs $720 billion deficit:  The nonpartisan CBO released its annual re-estimate of the President’s Budget, concluding that the President’s Budget would generate a $720 billion deficit in 2027 rather than the balanced budget predicted by the President’s budget office....
    • Social Security Insolvency in 2034:  The Social Security Trustees released their annual report projecting that the Social Security Trust Funds will have insufficient resources to fully cover retirement and disability benefits beginning in 2034....
    • Medicare HI Insolvency in 2029:  The Trustees also released their annual assessment of the Medicare Trust Funds, finding that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund -- which is funded by payroll taxes -- will have insufficient revenues to cover expenses in 2029....
    • GOP House leaders are having trouble assembling 218 votes for a 2018 Budget Resolution because conservative Freedom Caucus members want more entitlement cuts than the $200 billion proposed by Budget Committee leaders, while moderates want fewer cuts....
    • House Appropriations Committee continues to move FY ’18 Appropriations bills through subcommittee and full committee even though bipartisan negotiations have not yet begun on new top-line (“statutory cap”) levels for defense and non-defense discretionary spending. When new cap levels are eventually agreed to, all committee bills will have to be significantly revised....
    • Debt Ceiling:  In announcing the Senate would shorten its traditional August recess by two weeks, Senate Majority Leader McConnell hinted he may try to address the debt ceiling in August....

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Heavy Agenda as Congress Returns: Health, Budget, Spending Caps, Debt Ceiling, Tax Cuts, Appropriations

As Congress returns from July 4th recess, Members face a barrage of six major issues…

  1. Medicaid and Health Insurance Cuts….

  2. FY 2018 Budget….

  3. Revised Spending Caps or Shutdown....

  4. FY 2018 Appropriations....

  5. Hard Power vs. Soft Power….

  6. Debt Ceiling….

  7. Background on Senate Health Bill:  50 Votes May Be Out of Reach as CBO Projects 22 Million Uninsured and a 35% Cut in Medicaid

    As Congress returns from the July 4, recess, 50 votes in the Senate to pass Leader McConnell's ACA repeal-and-replace bill may be out of reach as CBO projects 22 million more uninsured Americans and a 35% cut in Medicaid -- causing a deep divide between GOP moderates and conservatives....
McConnell Postpones Health Bill While Looking for 50 Votes; Senate Bill Adds 22 Million Uninsured, Cuts Medicaid 35% by 2036

June 29:  CBO: Longer Term Effects of Senate Health Bill Would be a 35% Cut in Medicaid in 2036   New CBO Report


The Process is Not the Problem; the Problem is the Problem

Here we go again.  In a hearing on Tuesday, as reported by Congressional Quarterly, Sen. David Perdue, R-GA, told the Budget Committee, “it’s almost guaranteed that we will not have a budget process” this year. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed, “it is completely broken.”

Administrations and Members of Congress have been “blaming the budget process” since the current process began in 1974.

Former Congressional Budget Office Director Rudy Penner hit the nail on the head when he observed over 30 years ago, “The problem is not the process, the problem is the problem.”

This year’s “problem” is that the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have started writing the 12 regular appropriations bills for FY 2018, which begins October 1st, without having top-line numbers to work from (see Appropriations Portal)....

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The Dangers of Distraction: Health Care, Debt Ceiling, Dodd-Frank Repeal, Shutdown, Tax, Infrastructure

Special Counsel Mueller's investigation and all the related and rapidly unfolding developments deserve our highest level of attention and concern. The stability, integrity, and future of our democracy is at stake.

At the same time, we cannot afford to lose sight of vital matters of governance that continue to unfold and have profound implications for tens of millions of Americans and future generations.

Over the coming weeks, public policy matters of the greatest importance will be addressed in Congress: (1) the health care of tens of millions of Americans will be directly impacted by critical decisions made on Medicaid, health insurance subsidies, pre-existing conditions and other insurance protections; (2) the stability of our economy will be at risk if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and leaves the Treasury unable to honor U.S. financial obligations; 3) the federal government will shut down October 1st if Republicans and Democrats remain seriously divided on appropriate spending levels for defense and non-defense programs; (4) the stability of our banking and financial sectors are at stake as Congress works through changes to the Dodd-Frank reforms; (5) dozens of critical federal programs--from medical research to low-income energy assistance--are on the chopping block as work on the FY 2018 budget moves forward; and (6) our nation's ability to compete in a complex global economy will be compromised if we fail to invest in a 21st century infrastructure and a skilled & educated workforce.


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