MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2010
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Senate convened at 10:00 a.m. today to take up strategic arms control legislation. Tuesday, and for the remainder of the week, the Senate is tentatively set to take up FY 2011 appropriations, defense authorization and 9/11 health care legislation.
The House is not in session today, and convenes at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday to take up two measures subject to a rule.
KEY HEARINGS & MARKUPS
There are no relevant hearings or markups during the December 20 week.
CONGRESS RETURNS TO FINISH LAST MINUTE TO-DO LIST
Congress remains in session this week with a number of “must-do” items
on the agenda. The House and Senate December 17 passed a three-day
continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 105) to keep the government funded
while more long-term funding legislation is negotiated. The previous
stop-gap funding bill was to expire December 18. Senators are expected
to vote Tuesday to cut off debate on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to
fund the government through March 4. The CR represents a
compromise between Republicans who wanted a short-term, clean CR lasting
until February and Democrats who wanted the CR to fund the government
through the end of the fiscal year.
The Senate may also take up a trimmed-down version of a bill (H.R. 847)
to provide compensation to 9/11 responders who fell ill after working at
the World Trade Center site. The House-passed bill was cut from $7.4
billion to $6.2 billion added a 2 percent excise fee on some foreign
firms that contract with the U.S. government and two other pay-fors.
REID INSERTS GEOTHERMAL ROYALTIES FOR NEVADA COUNTIES INTO CR
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) added language into the Senate version of the Continuing Resolution (CR) granting several counties in Nevada royalties for geothermal projects. The language was similar to previous requests by Representative Dean Heller (R-NV) and Senator John Ensign (R-NV). Without the language, the money would have gone to the federal government.
The language continues payment of royalties to counties that have geothermal projects on federal lands. The royalties often pay for essential county services such as public safety and are important to many rural Nevada counties with high percentages of public lands.
HOUSE PASSES TAX EXTENDERS BILL; SIGNED BY PRESIDENT
After a brief dispute over the rule for consideration, the tax extenders bill was approved in the House with a 277 to 148 vote last week. The Senate cleared the legislation earlier last week and the bill was signed by the President on Friday.
The bill includes an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, creates a two-year patch for the alternative minimum tax and extends dozens of popular short-term tax breaks including the research and development tax credit and the deduction for state and local income taxes.
The bill also features a provision to allow businesses to depreciate 100 percent of the cost of new capital investments made in 2011, a cut in the Social Security payroll tax on the employee side from 6.2 percent of wages to 4.2 percent and extends unemployment insurance benefits for 13 months, without a gap, through December 2011.
UNEMPLOYMENT IN NEVADA RISES
The unemployment rate in Nevada rose from 14.2% in October to 14.3% in November according to the latest statistics. In Las Vegas, the unemployment rate was also 14.3%, up from October's 14.1%. Construction and manufacturing industries continue to be the hardest hit. Nevada has led the country in unemployment for the last eight months and is one of nine states with a double digit unemployment rate.
However, the latest reports do have some good news. Retail, professional and business services, and education and health services all added jobs during the last month. Furthermore, the number of hours worked per week also rose for the first time this year, a trend that could mean future hiring.
PRESIDENT SIGNS DOC FIX LEGISLATION
President Obama December 15 signed a bill (H.R. 4994) to delay for one year a 25 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement for physicians and making additional changes in Medicare and federal health care programs. The $19 billion Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 would freeze physicians’ reimbursement for all of 2011, replacing the 25 percent cut that was scheduled to be implemented January 1, 2011. It also makes changes in other Medicare payment policies affecting other provider groups. The measure passed the Senate December 8 and the House December 9.
The Nevada Weekly is published when Congress is in session.
The next edition of the Nevada Weekly will be published January 3, 2011.
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