House of Representatives
Washington Empties Out – With both houses of Congress in recess and the president traveling, Washington feels deserted. The biggest news in DC is whether the Nats will sign Bryce Harper. Congress will return after Labor Day.
They’re Here (for a day) – The House did return briefly on Tuesday to approve $26.1 billion in state aid. The president signed the bill, which is fully offset, shortly afterwards.
CRFB has been calling for policymakers to set fiscal targets for some time. Apparently we haven’t been clear enough on what that means.
Unfortunately, some in Congress have put a bullseye on the few legislators courageous enough to offer ideas to reduce our mounting debt. The Hill today reports on leaders within the House Democratic caucus tearing into four junior members who were naïve enough to offer a measure to moderately reduce spending.
House Gone, Senate Eyeing the Exit – The House started its six-week recess Friday and the Senate will adjourn at the end of this week. Debate and a vote on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is expected to take up a lot of the schedule, and oxygen, this week for senators.
Add another solid idea to the growing list of proposals to help improve federal budgeting and put the country on a sustainable fiscal course. Representatives Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and Charles Djou (R-HI) yesterday introduced the Truth in Spending Act (H.R. 5954).
Signaling their desire to be more austere, House and Senate appropriators continued pushing their Fiscal 2011 spending bills through the system this week, as the first measures went to the House Floor. The House passed its Transportation-HUD spending bill. It contains $67 billion in discretionary funding, which is $800 million below this year and $1.6 billion below President Obama's budget. House Republicans opposed the bill, saying the funding levels still were too high.
If You Can’t Stand the Heat… – Washington has been experiencing a heat wave, but it can’t all be blamed on the friction between the two parties. Before members of the House can escape at the end of the week for a long break, they must complete work on the war supplemental that has bounced around more than a beach ball. The Senate will stay an extra week before its month-long recess and will try to complete a small business measure amid votes on the Elena Kagan nomination to the Supreme Court, campaign finance reform, and energy legislation.
Today, four Democratic congressmen—Reps. Gary Peters, John Adler, Jim Himes, and Peter Welch—introduced four-pronged legislation, called the REDUCE Acts, meant to reduce the national deficit by more than $70 billion over the next decade. This series of bills proposes to achieve this goal through a combination of reduced spending and the elimination of “inefficient programs and costly industry subsidies.”
Opens and Tours – Americans did not fare well in sporting events across the pond this weekend; leaving us Yanks to rely on past memories of success at the British Open and Tour de France as well as the understanding that our economy is not quite as bad off as those of the countries that are beating us. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Washington continue to negotiate treacherous links and steep climbs in the quest to complete legislation.
Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) today introduced important legislation to create a more transparent budget regime towards putting the country on a sustainable fiscal path. The “Transparent and Sustainable Budget Act of 2010” contains several sound ideas for improving the budget process.
In addition to providing for a more accurate accounting of federal expenditures, the bill also requires the establishment of debt and deficit reduction goals. Key provisions include: