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Hill Update with Max Pappas for 12/14/2011
By Tabitha Hale on December 14, 2011
House/Schedule: The House will be in session all week and adjournment is contingent on finishing business, at which time the House will go in to recess for the holidays. There could be a showdown over the big spending bill that would fund government through next September.
Senate/Schedule: The Senate is also in session all this week and adjournment date remains unclear, pending the big spending bill.
A vote is expected on Tuesday for the “Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011”and a vote is expected on Wednesday for the Appropriations Omnibus bill. The final Omnibus legislation text should be released Tuesday. At this time it is not public, but rumors say gimmicks may be used to enable spending to exceed the spending limits put in place earlier in the year, including breaking the bill up in to 3 separate pieces.
A vote is expected on Tuesday on two Balance Budget Amendment bills.
- S.J.Res 10 is the consensus Republican Balance Budget Amendment. It contains provisions capping spending at 18% of GDP and requiring a 2/3 majority to approve new taxes or increases in tax rates. The compromise from Sen. Lee’s new BBA is that this version allows Congress to waive the restrictions in times of war or with specific congressional approval. This version is still stronger than the version which failed in the House last month and is worth supporting.
- S.J. Res 24, sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (CO), is a terrible alternative proposal that directs the President to submit a balanced budget proposal every year but excludes Social Security and Medicare spending from the restrictions. Excluding two of the largest threats to our fiscal solvency rather defeats the purpose of a BBA.
The House will consider H.R. 3630 <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.03630:> , the “Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011”. It is reported to be a net tax cut and a net spending cut. This bill contains extensions for a number of programs which are set to expire at the end of the year, including:
- Unemployment insurance
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- National Flood Insurance
- Extend the Federal Pay Freeze
- The payroll tax cut
- The annual Medicare “Doc Fix” to prevent scheduled cuts in reimbursements to doctors
A number of other items have been added to the bill, including:
- Reauthorizing the Keystone XL Pipeline project
- Means testing for Medicare
- The EPA Regulatory Relief Act, which would prevent several damaging EPA regulations
- The “Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum Act”
The bill also contains several provisions to cut spending to offset the payroll tax cut and other measures. Overall the bill cuts $ 89 billion in spending and $ 953 billion over ten years.
Americans for Tax reform has issued a letter of support for this bill.
Rep. Paul Broun (GA-10) is submitting an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionally of the Healthcare reform law.
Rep. Phil Roe (TN-1) has introduced a resolution (H.Res. 475) which expresses the House’s sense that Obamacare is unconstitutional. This resolution, which already has 59 co-sponsors, is meant to send the message to the Supreme Court that even Congress does not believe this bill to be legal, and puts more pressure on the justices as they consider the suit against Obamacare. FreedomWorks is encouraging Members to sign on to the resolution.