September 20, 2012


Legislative Focus:  Legislative Focus: Continuing Resolution, Veterans Jobs Bill, Welfare Work Waiver

Both chambers returned Wednesday instead of Monday, following observance of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, for a brief legislative week. 

The Senate convened Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

The Senate’s first order of business was be the veterans jobs bill (S. 3457), which failed a vote to approve on a motion to waive a budget point of order against a substitute amendment offered by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), see article below. The Senate Thursday is also scheduled to take up the motion to proceed to a six-month stopgap funding bill, which will fund government programs through March 27, 2013. Under a unanimous-consent agreement, the Senate is expected hold a cloture vote at 2:15 p.m. that same day. The House cleared the measure September 13 on a vote of 329-91. 

The House convened Wednesday at 12:00 noon.

Yesterday, the House considered several measures under suspension of the rules. Today, the House plans to take up a resolution expressing disapproval of a welfare work waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services (H.J. Res. 118). The House is likely to consider legislation (H.R. 3409) that would prohibit the secretary of the interior from creating new regulations on the coal industry.

Congress is expected to recess September 21.


Armed Services:  The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “Department of Defense Plans for Sequestration: The Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 Report and the Way Forward.” The act required that the Office of Management and Budget prepare a report listing every program and activity across the federal government that will be subject to funding cuts under the sequestration agreement. The report was released the week of September 14. 
Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2118.

Commerce, Science and Transportation: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing titled “Five Years of the America COMPETES Act: Progress, Challenges, and Next Steps,” focusing on implementation of the act and challenges in maintaining U.S. leadership in innovation and technology. 
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 2:30 p.m., Russell 253.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs:  The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on homeland threats and agency responses. 
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 342.

Oversight and Government Reform:  The Government Organization, Efficiency and Financial Management Subcommittee of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled “Trade Adjustment Assistance for U.S. Firms: Evaluating Program Effectiveness and Recommendations.” 
Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., Rayburn 2247.

Environment and Public Works:  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “Water Resources Development Act: Growing the Economy and Protecting Public Safety.” 
Thursday, September 20, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., Dirksen 406.

Finance:  The Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee will hold a joint hearing on proposals relating to the taxation of capital gains as a part of a broader overhaul of the tax system. 
Thursday, September 20, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center.

Financial Services
The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the semi-annual report to Congress of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 
Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2128.

The Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee of House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the monetary effects of interest rates and the consequences of interest rate setting as a monetary policy tool employed by the Federal Reserve. 
Friday, September 21, 2012 at 9:30 a.m., Rayburn 2128l.


Yesterday, the Senate failed to approve a cloture motion which would have forced a vote on final passage of S. 3457, the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012 by a vote of 58-40. The bill would have provided $1 billion in grant funding for states to employ veterans as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and national park rangers. The bill also contained a provision that would require states to consider military training when granting licenses and certifications for certain jobs, such as nurse practitioners and commercial truck drivers. 


The House voted 329-91 to approve a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating through March 27, 2013. The CR includes a $1.047 spending limit that was part of last year’s Budget Control Act. That spending level funds operations for most agencies at 2012 levels plus 0.612 percent. The bill also includes an extension of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and prevents the Air Force from retiring or eliminated aircraft used by the Air National Guard. NGA has been a vocal opponent of proposed disproportionate cuts to the Air Guard.

The House today begins debate on a FY13 continuing resolution (CR) (H.J. Res. 117) for six months through March 27, 2013. Most accounts funded in fiscal year 2012 would be funded at FY12 levels with a .612 percent supplemental boost, with some exceptions including federal-aid highways. 

According to the draft CR, highways would only receive a prorated amount equal to the FY12 annual obligation limit of $39.14 billion. Highways would be ineligible for the supplemental boost applied to most other programs including other highway Trust Fund programs. The boost is necessary to bring the CR’s total dollar amount to $1.047 trillion agreed to by the Administration and Congressional leaders. 

The ineligibility for highways was triggered because of a drafting error in MAP-21, the recently enacted surface transportation authorization. Ineligibility for highway spending was the apparent consequence necessary to overcome the error and avoid triggering an unanticipated multi-billion dollar outlay under the Equity Bonus program. As a result, the federal-aid highway program may see a short-term drop of 1.4 percent ($555 million over six months) in monthly funding levels below those authorized for FY13 under MAP-21. This differential, however, could be restored once a full-year authorization is enacted. 


The proposed continuing resolution includes provisions to extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs for another six months. The proposed resolution would also extend several other agricultural related programs through March of the next year. That being said, reports indicate that talks continue regarding a one year extension of the full Farm Bill before Congress adjourns for the elections.