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Capitol Hill Update, 10 February, 2014
House & Senate/Schedule: Both chambers are in session this week. Both will recess on Wednesday and leave town through the 24th of February, unless an agreement is reached on the debt ceiling.
Legislative Highlight of the Week: The suspension of the debt ceiling officially ended on February 7th, meaning that the Treasury Department is once again back to using “extraordinary measures” to fund federal spending until the limit is increased once more. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew estimates that funding will run out near the end of February. Democrats want a “clean” debt ceiling hike, while some Republicans are debating what reforms they may demand in return for the increase.
House/Financial Services: The main bill on the floor of the House this week will be H.R. 3193, the Consumer Financial Protection and Soundness Act. Sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), this bill attempts to rein in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the major new regulatory bodies created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill of 2010. Currently this agency has essentially no oversight by Congress, and this bill would at least reform the CFPB by making it an independent executive agency headed by a board of five members – all subject to Congressional approval – rather than being headed by one individual.
House/IRS Targeting: The House Committee on Ways & Means will be marking up H.R. 3865, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act. Sponsored by Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), this bill would stop the IRS from finalizing its proposed regulations that would prevent 501(c)4 non-profit groups from having any voice in the political process. This would mean that a great many tea party and 9/12 groups, along with many of the larger D.C. non-profits, would be not allowed to conduct voter education or registration, hold candidate forums, or even mention the name of any candidate actively up for election. FreedomWorks strongly supports Camp’s bill – you can see our letter of support HERE.
Senate/Veterans’ Benefits: The Senate may vote this week on a bill that would restore funding for Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increases on veterans’ benefits, which were cut in the Ryan/Murray budget and omnibus deal last month. Although cutting veteran compensation was clearly not the wisest choice when looking for spending cuts, the bigger point is that even the limited cuts that were promised in the deal are already under attack, as we predicted they would be.