Capitol Hill Update, 7 April, 2014
House & Senate/Schedule: Both chambers are in session this week, and both will take a two-week Spring recess starting next week.
Legislative Highlight of the Week: This week, the House will vote on Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget H.Con.Res. 96. Like last year’s version, the budget does balance in ten years, contains some positive tax reforms, and reforms health care by repealing ObamaCare and block-granting Medicaid to the states. On the negative side, the budget achieves balance by staying at Obama’s levels of tax revenue, fails to eliminate any major executive bureaucracies, does not touch social security, and reforms Medicare in a way that still keeps seniors trapped in government-controlled health care.
House/Budget: The House will vote on a number of substitute amendments to the Budget that contain the budget plans of various major caucuses of members. These will likely include the progressives’ budget plan, the Congressional Black Caucus budget, President Obama’s budget, and the Republican Study Committee’s conservative alternative budget.
House/Budget Reform: The House voted Monday on another budget reform bill, the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, H.R. 1872. Sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) this bill would require that federal programs be accounted for on a “fair value” basis, and would also require that the loans and expenditure made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be included in the federal budget numbers.
House/Budget Reform: Sticking with the budget theme, the House will vote this week on the Baseline Reform Act, H.R. 1871. Sponsored by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), this bill would revise federal budget projections to stop them from automatically assuming spending increases in future years due to inflation. These automatic increases are the reason why Congress has for years been able to claim that they were cutting spending (the sequester, for instance) while total annual spending actually increased from year to year.
Senate/Wages: After finishing up on extending unemployment insurance, the Senate will spend the rest of the week considering S. 2199, the “Paycheck Fairness Act”. Sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski, this bill would make it easier for female employees to seek compensation from their employers if they feel that their salaries or wages are lower than male employees due to discrimination. This sort of “fairness” legislation ignores the fact that, when compared using apple-to-apples data, women in many fields actually earn more per year than their male counterparts.