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Capitol Hill Update, 8 December, 2014
House & Senate/Schedule: The House looks like its intent is to pass a government funding bill and leave town on Thursday of this week, while the Senate may stay in town a few days longer.
House & Senate/Spending: Appropriators and leadership from the House and Senate are poised to unveil their compromise(d) omnibus spending bill to fund the government through the end of the next fiscal year. Unfortunately, we’re already getting word that good amendments to the House appropriations bills passed earlier this year may be pulled out of the final result.
The exact problem is that we don’t even know – putting together a massive omnibus spending bill during the short lame duck session necessarily does not leave time for a transparent process. The House will have little or no opportunity to vote on amendments to yet another 1,000-page bill that few Members will have even seen in its entirety before it is released.
House/Civil Liberties: In particular one good amendment that the House had passed during its 2014 appropriations was an amendment introduce by Rep. Thomas Massie which would have defunded some of the NSA’s ability to access data collected on American citizens without a specific warrant. The amendment passed the House easily with a massive bi-partisan majority, yet there are strong indications that it may be removed from the final language of the omnibus. You can call a few of the key appropriations offices HERE.
House & Senate/Internet Taxation: Notably missing from the calendar of either chamber at the moment is the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize the long-time ban on taxing internet access, which is set to expire on December 11th. A bill to extend this ban on internet taxation passed the House by a huge bi-partisan majority earlier this year, and it should be easily passed in the Senate as well.
House & Senate/Insurance: Both chambers are expected to easily pass a reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). This obsolete program subsidizes insurance companies for covering damages related to terrorist attacks. This has become just another program allowing insurance companies to shift their risks over to the federal government, while keeping the profits.
House/Health Care: On Tuesday at 9:30 AM, the full House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on ObamaCare transparency failures. Most notably, ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber will be asked to testify about his public assertions that the administration relied upon the “stupidity of the American voter” to dishonestly sell their health care takeover to the public. Also, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner will testify regarding the ObamaCare enrollment numbers apparently being artificially inflated.
Senate/Tax Extenders: The House and Senate appear to have reached a deal on the "tax extenders", the package of several dozen expiring provisions in the tax code which Congress reauthorizes every so often. While the House had made substantial progress on making a deal that would have made several of the more more broad tax deductions permanent and left many of the ones favoring certain industries as temporary, the White House derailed the deal by threatening a veto. So now the House has passed, and the Senate appears likely to pass, a straight one-year extension of the entire package.