Line Items: Spring Forward Edition
Spring in Their Step? – As part of the annual spring ritual, we moved the clocks forward an hour. While time marches on, Washington seems stuck in place with no movement on a budget or a plan to deal with our long-term debt problem. Spring is a time of renewal, to make a fresh start. Especially in this leap year, when lawmakers have an extra day, let’s hope they will take the big leap and spring into action to address our fiscal challenges.
Slow Movement on Transportation Bill – The House is in recess this week while the Senate plods along on legislation to reauthorize federal highway spending for two years (S. 1813). Several amendments were considered last week, including one (S. Amdt. 1738) from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would eliminate, consolidate or streamline numerous federal government programs identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as duplicative or overlapping. The amendment failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass by a 52-46 vote. The Senate will consider more amendments this week, including two from Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). One (S. Amdt. 1785) would lower the discretionary spending cap to offset the additional spending in the bill not covered by revenue from the Highway Trust Fund. The other (S. Amdt. 1810) would limit spending in the bill to that which can be covered by the Trust Fund. Corker penned a Washington Post op-ed framing his amendments as attempts to instill the type of fiscal responsibility called for by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. Corker also issued a point of order against the bill on the grounds it violates the spending limits in the Budget Control Act. The point of order was waived by a 66-31 vote.
iPad In, IPAB Out? – As Apple rolled out an upgraded iPad, lawmakers sought to roll back the independent 15-member board of experts charged with controlling Medicare costs in the Affordable Care Act. The House Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means committees both approved of legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) last week. A House floor vote expected later this month. CRFB is troubled that legislators are so keen to repeal the board, but have shown little interest in tackling Medicare’s unsustainable growth.
Pay for Performance for Congress – With Congress on track yet again to fail to produce a budget for the fiscal year, some are calling for lawmakers to suffer real consequences. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on congressional reform proposals. One of the ideas that will be considered is the “No Budget, No Pay” bill, which would withhold pay for lawmakers until they adopt a budget resolution and appropriations bills. See more budget process reform ideas here.
Key Upcoming Dates (all times ET)
- Presidential contests in Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 military construction budget estimates for the Dept. of Defense and Dept. of the Navy at 3 pm.
- Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on congressional reform proposals, including "No Budget, No Pay" at 10 am.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the U.S. Agency for International Development at 10 am.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the Dept. of the Air Force at 10:30 am.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the Dept. of Labor at 10:30 am.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the Dept. of Energy at 2:30 pm.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the Dept. of Transportation at 9 am.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the FBI at 10 am.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs at 10 am.
- Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FY 2013 budget estimates for the Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office and Government Printing Office at 2:30 pm.
- Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases February 2012 Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.
- Missouri Caucus
- Puerto Rico Primary
- Oregon GOP Debate sponsored by PBS at 9 pm.
- Illinois Primary
- House Appropriations hearing on the budget, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, with Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
- Louisiana Primary
- US Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its third and final estimate of 2011 fourth quarter GDP.
- Presidential contests in DC, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Texas
- Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases March 2012 employment data.
- Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases March 2012 Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.
- Tax Day! Federal income tax returns are due.