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Capitol Hill Update, 26 February, 2013

FreedomWorks is pleased to return with our weekly update on the most important activity happening on Capitol Hill.

House & Senate Schedule: After a week of recess, the House and Senate are both in session today, and will remain in D.C. for the next four weeks. Both chambers will recess for two weeks starting in the week of March 25th.

Legislative Highlight of the Week: This Friday, March 1st, the infamous sequester will take effect, causing an automatic reduction in federal spending across the board. While not the ideal way to go about reducing government spending, the sequester is merely a drop in the bucket, only cutting 2.4% of total spending, and even with the sequester savings Federal spending will still go up. The Republican leadership in the House passed two bills to reallocate the sequester cuts last year which Senate Democrats refused to even debate, so the House is content to just let the sequester happen.

Senate/Spending: The Senate is expected to vote on two alternative to the sequester, a Republican and Democrat alternative. There are not details on the Republican alternative, while the Democratic version leaves all of the defense cuts but replace all the rest with new taxes on the rich.

House/Spending: Next week, with the sequester cuts locked in, the House will begin considering a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. These CRs serve to authorize spending in place of a budget, since Harry Reid and the Senate have refused to pass a budget for nearly four years. At the very minimum, the Republicans in the House must absolutely hold the line at keeping the sequester savings in place.

House/VAWA: The House will spend most of Wednesday and Thursday debating their version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), S. 47. The House will introduce a substitute amendment to replace the Senate’s bill with their own language, which will deal with some of the constitutional issues present in the existing bill. However, the bigger question is whether the federal government would be wasting its time and money dealing with an issue (domestic violence) that is already illegal in all 50 states. Studies have shown that the expensive programs under VAWA, which will cost over half a billion dollars per year to enforce, not only don’t work, but in some cases actually made women less safe. FreedomWorks Policy Analyst Julie Borowski explains more about why VAWA is a bad idea HERE.

Senate/Nominations: On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will vote on whether to report the nomination of Jack Lew for Secretary of the Treasury to the whole Senate. If the vote succeeds (which is nearly certain), the main Senate confirmation vote may happen as early as this Thursday, February 28th. FreedomWorks strongly opposes Lew’s confirmation because of his inability to produce a serious budget proposal as head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and because of his shady crony capitalist ties to the bank bailouts of 2008-9. You can find more information about why Jack Lew is a bad choice for the Treasury HERE, and at