House of Representatives
Late last night the House passed a supplemental appropriations bill ostensibly to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, lawmakers supplemented the supplemental with plenty of funds that will never get anywhere near the Middle East.
As expected, the House came out today with its "budget enforcement resolution." What's the difference between a budget enforcement resolution and a traditional budget resolution? A lot of things, as it turns out.
Here they go again. As they have for years, lawmakers are attempting to tuck billions of dollars for unrelated programs into the war supplemental spending bill. The House version of the $61.5 billion appropriations bill, likely to go to the floor this week, contains funding for a variety of non-war programs, including some $5.7 billion for the Pell Grant program.
Today, Congressional negotiators agreed upon a plan to reform the American financial regulation system—which, if it passes next week, would constitute the “most sweeping set of financial reforms since those that followed the Great Depression,” according to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
For weeks, Congress has been re-tooling and re-tooling the extenders bill (HR 4213), looking for 60 votes to pass. Two things have held constant: lawmakers have been unwilling to enact the bills, and lawmakers have not offset the costs. Of course, the two are related. The newest Senate bill, released on Thursday, trims the gross cost and deficit impact to $103 billion and $27 billion, respectively, from $118 billion and $55 billion.
Even in best years the congressional appropriations process usually results in a proverbial train wreck. And this year is shaping up to be such a bad year that news headline writers may have to come up with a new description. The spending process which begins this week is fraught with bumps and unanswered questions.
Summertime, but the Living Isn’t Easy in Congress – Today brings the first official day of summer, but Washington has already been experiencing searing days and the Capitol dome is about to blow off from the heat inside. The longest day of the year comes as lawmakers face a long road on appropriations and taxes, not to mention the never-ending “extenders” bill, which still has no end in sight.
With much of the nation's attention focused on President Obama's oil spill address and much of the fiscal policy universe focused on the extenders bill, another bill was passed by the House on Tuesday. The Small Business Jobs Tax Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 5486) provides, as you would expect, a number of small business tax breaks, although the gross cost is expected to be very small (less than $4 billion).
“Beautiful Game”and Not-So-Pretty Agenda – Add soccer to all the other distractions in Washington as lawmakers face a packed agenda. With the World Cup under way and workers gathered around monitors in offices across the globe (when they’re not at the local bar), legislators in DC face action on key bills that will affect the nation’s bottom line. Meanwhile, the growing chorus for fiscal responsibility and offsets to spending are becoming as loud and ubiquitous as the sound of the vuvuzela at matches.