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    PODCAST: Hill Update with Max Pappas. Oct 3, 2011

    Click to listen!

    HILL UPDATE: 3 October, 2011

    House/Senate Schedule: The House will remain in session for two weeks, with a Constituent Work Week scheduled for the 17-21 October.  The Senate will remain in session of three weeks, and will adjourn for the week of 24-28 October.

    Senate/Agenda:

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    Today (Monday) the Senate is considering the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, and a vote is expected at 5:30 PM.  More details below.

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    May be able to take action on the free trade agreements with S. Korea, Colombia, and Panama next week, pending House passage.

    Senate/Trade Relations:  The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act (S. 1619) currently being considered by the Senate, seeks to label “developing economies” (read: China) “currency manipulators” for depressing the value of its currency and unfairly distorting the balance of trade. The bill would allow U.S. tariffs to be raised in response to this perceived threat, which could start a trade war with our largest trade partner at a time when our economy can least afford it.  Notably, past increases in the value of China’s currency have had little to no effect on U.S. unemployment and exports, so this bill is not likely to help our economy but could hurt it a great deal.

    House/Agenda:

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    On Tuesday, the House is expected to vote on the Continuing Resolution to fund the Federal Government (H.J. Res. 79) through November 18th, 2011.  The CR is expected to pass; more details below.

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    Mid-week, votes are also expected on two important bills to curtail EPA regulations, H.R. 2681 and H.R. 2250. More details below.

    House/Spending:  As noted in the previous Hill Update, the Continuing Resolution (CR) is the bill to continue funding the Federal Government in lieu of passing an actual budget, since Senate Democrats have failed to even present a budget for the past two years.  The current C.R. allows for another $1.043 Trillion in spending, which is a $7 billion cut from the previous spending level, but is $24 billion more than the budget proposal put forth by Republicans this year, and $72 billion more than the Republican Study Committee’s proposed budget.

    House/Budget:  Fiscal Year 2011 ended after September the 30th, so all further appropriations are now for FY2012.  The House will have to consider spending bills for all of the individual departments, or may opt to propose an Omnibus spending bill to fund them all at once, once the Continuing Resolution expires on November 18th of this year.

    House/Balanced Budget Amendment:  The House is likely to begin consideration of a Balanced Budget Amendment sometime in November.

    House/Regulation: As mentioned, the House is considering H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, and H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief act, two parts of the “regulatory train wreck” the EPA has been pushing on our economy.

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    H.R. 2681 prohibits EPA regulations from coming into effect which would place tremendous restrictions upon the cement industry.  The EPA itself admits that the cement regulations would raise the price of the most common type of cement and would drive down industry profits and destroy jobs.

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    H.R. 2250 similarly curtails the EPA “Boiler MACT” regulations on boilers and industrial incinerators, which would also cost billions of dollars to implement and would cost thousands of jobs.

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    Both of these bills require the EPA to take into account compliance and implementation costs of these regulations, and to allow more time for industries to comply with these rules before they take effect.

    House/Committee:  The House Committee on Ways and Means will be looking at the aforementioned free trade agreements this week, in preparation for a possible vote by the full House next week.

    House/Member Initiative: Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-5) is seeking co-sponsors for the LEARN Act, which would grant states the ability to opt out of the failing No Child Left Behind program.  The bill would instead grant the funding that would have gone to NCLB to the states, and grants citizens of these states tax credits proportional to the states’ tax burden. This approach would allow states to take back responsibility for their own education systems, without the strings that come attached to Federal tax dollars.

    House/Member Initiative: Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-3) is introducing the “Adjusting Davis-Bacon for Inflation Act”.  The Davis Bacon Act of 1931 set wage standards for workers on government contracts greater than $2,000, and in 80 years that minimum threshold has never been increased.  Adjusting for inflation, the threshold would increase from $2,000 to $50,000, which would greatly increase competition for government contracts from small businesses which could otherwise not afford to pay the high wages that Davis-Bacon requires.  More competitive bidding for subcontracts will equal huge savings for taxpayers.

    House/Member Initiative: Rep. Joe Walsh (IN-8) is introducing H.R. 2945, the Capital Gains Inflation Relief Act of 2011. The bill would index capital gains tax to inflation so we wouldn’t be taxes on gains that were only the result of inflation, not real increases in wealth.