July 16, 2012

THE WEEK AHEAD

Legislative Focus:  Defense Appropriations, Campaign Finance Disclosure, Sequestration
 
During the July 16 week, the House plans to work on defense spending and sequestration, while the Senate is scheduled to take up campaign finance disclosure and a judicial nomination.

The House is not in session today, but is set to convene at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday for legislative business and to take up five measures under suspension of the rules. Wednesday, and for the remainder of the week, the House is scheduled to take up one measure under suspension of the rules and the defense appropriations package under an open rule.

The House is expected to take up the “Sequestration Transparency Act” (H.R. 5872), which would require the White House to share its plans to deal with automatic budget cuts. The bill passed out of the House Budget Committee June 27 on a 30-0 vote. The House is scheduled to spend the rest of the week debating the FY 2013 Department of Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 5856). House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has said to expect late-night voting on what could be numerous amendments to spending bill. 

The Senate convened at 2:00 p.m. today with roll call votes expected on a campaign finance measure.

The Senate plans to vote early in the week on the motion to proceed to the DISCLOSE Act (S. 3369), which aims to create greater transparency in campaign finance. The bill, sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require 501(c) organizations to disclose contributions used to pay for political advertising, and would speed up the disclosure of donors to super political action committees. In addition, the measure would require any organization spending $10,000 or more on campaign-related activities to file reports with the Federal Election Commission listing their spending and contributions and identifying all donors contributing $10,000 or more.

The Senate also could continue work on a tax bill (S. 3364) which would create incentives for companies to bring jobs back to the United States. At 5 p.m. today, the Senate will begin consideration of the nomination of Kevin McNulty to be a U.S. district judge for the District of New Jersey. Upon disposition of the nomination, the Senate is expected vote on the motion to proceed to the campaign finance disclosure bill. 


KEY HEARINGS & MARKUPS

Agriculture: The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the Dodd-Frank Act (PL 111-203), focusing on its impact over the past two years. 
Tuesday, July 16, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Russell 328.

Appropriations:  The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will mark up proposed fiscal 2013 appropriations for departments, agencies and programs under its jurisdiction. 
Wednesday, July 18, 2:00 p.m., 2358-C Rayburn Building.

Armed Services:  The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “Sequestration Implementation Options and the Effects on National Defense: industry Perspectives.” 
Wednesday, July 18, 10:10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Building.

Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs:  The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to receive the semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress for the Federal Reserve System. 
Tuesday, July 16, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen G-50.

Education and the Workforce:  The Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee of the House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Keeping College Within Reach: Exploring State Efforts to curb Costs.” 
Wednesday, July 18 at 10:00 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Building.

Energy and Commerce:  The Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “The American Energy Initiative:” 
Tuesday, July 17 at 3:00 p.m., 2123 Rayburn Building.

The Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will ghold a hearing titled “ Using Innovation to Reform Medicare Physician Payment.” 
Wednesday, July 18 at 10:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Building.

Energy & Natural Resources:  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the status of action taken to ensure that the electric grid is protected from cyber-attacks. 
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 366.

Financial Services:  The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing to receive the semi-annual monetary report from the chairman of the Federal Reserve. 
Wednesday, July 18, at 10:00 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Building.

The Capitol Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Impact of Dodd-Frank (PL 111-203) on Municipal Finance:” 
Friday, July 20 at 9:30 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Building.

Health, Education, Labor & Pensions:  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing titled: “Making College Affordability a Priority: Promising Practices and Strategies.” 
Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 430.

Natural Resources:  The National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on pending legislation. 
Friday, July 20 at 9:00 a.m., 1334 Longworth Building.

Small Businesses:  The House Small Businesses Committee will hold a hearing on the role of the federal government in expanding broadband access to small businesses. 
Wednesday, July 18 at 1:00 p.m., 2360 Rayburn Building.

The Investigations, Oversight and Regulations Subcommittee of the House Small Businesses Committee will hold a hearing titled “Health Carte Realignment and Regulation: The Demise of Small and Solo Medical Practices.” 
Thursday, July 19, at 10:00 a.m., 2360 Rayburn Building.

Special Aging:  The Senate Special Aging Committee will hold a hearing on Medicare and Medicaid coordination for dual-eligibles. 
Wednesday, July 28, 2012 at 2:00 p.m., Hart 216.

Ways and Means:  The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing titled “Tax Reform and the U.S. Manufacturing Sector.” 
Thursday, July 19 at 9:30 a.m., 1100 Longworth Building.


SENATE ACTION ENDS SMALL BUSINESS TAX CREDIT PROPOSAL

The Senate last Thursday blocked further consideration of a proposed tax credit proposal intended to encourage employers to hire new workers (S. 2237). Specifically, the bill would allow businesses to deduct the full cost of equipment purchased this year and give employers a credit worth up to $500,000 to offset 10 percent of the amount they spend to expand their payroll in 2012 compared to 2011. 



HOUSE, SENATE PASS VETERANS JOBS BILLS
 
On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved H.R. 4155, the Veterans Skills to Jobs Act. The measure directs the head of each federal agency to accept relevant military training as sufficient for any training or certification needs for federal licenses. The legislation stipulates that the applicant for the federal license must have received the relevant training while serving as a member of the armed forces. The House passed the bill under suspension earlier this week. The bill now goes to President, who is expected to sign the bill into law. 

In addition, the House also passed H.R. 4114, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, which directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the rates of veterans’ disability compensation and additional compensation for dependents. The bill also increases the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), passed the House by voice vote and requires that the increase in these benefits be the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under Title II of the Social Security Act, which applies to Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Benefits.



HEALTH CARE REPEAL LEGISLATION PASSES THE HOUSE

Wednesday, the House voted 244-185 to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The vote marked the second time the House has voted to repeal the entire health care law. The bill now moves to the Senate where it is unlikely to garner sufficient votes to pass



HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES FARM BILL, CUTS TO FOOD STAMPS

Last week, the House Agriculture Committee voted 35-11 to move its version of the Farm Bill to the House floor. The bill cuts direct spending by about $35 billion from current levels, with the bulk of reductions coming from the national food stamp program (SNAP). The bill eliminates direct payments to farmers but provides incentives through a new revenue insurance program and subsidies based on guaranteed prices. The conservation title, which provides farmers with funding and technical assistance to make environmental improvements, would receive a $6.1 billion cut from current levels. Last month, the Senate passed a $970 billion Farm Bill. Although the bills from both chambers are similar, the House bill makes steeper cuts in nutrition assistance and includes policy differences in commodity subsidies that will likely be worked out in conference.

Under the proposal, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be cut by $16.5 billion over 10 years. The measure would reduce current state flexibility which allows more families to qualify for benefits by restricting automatic eligibility for families (including for those receiving nominal LIHEAP payments), enforcing asset and gross income thresholds and ending eligibility for lottery winners and traditional college students. The measure would also eliminate performance bonuses to states for administering the program. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June, which calls for a smaller reduction to SNAP of $4 billion over 10 years.



SECRETARY SEBELIUS RESPONDS TO GOVERNORS

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to each of the nation’s governors pledging the Department’s commitment to work with them in implementing the Affordable Care Act and providing additional flexibilities for states to promote successful implementation of the health care law. On July 2, NGA wrote a letter to Secretary Sebelius to request guidance on state options regarding Medicaid expansion following the Supreme Court’s decision. A copy of the Secretary’s letter may be accessed here.