House of Representatives
While it is incredibly disappointing that elected officials in Washington failed to avoid a government shutdown, attention is quickly turning towards raising the federal debt ceiling, which currently stands at $16.699 trillion.
Congress faces a number of looming fiscal crises this fall, and the first obstacle is just around the corner -- if lawmakers fail to pass legislation to fund federal programs before September 30, the government will shut down. Today, CRFB released a new Q&A for understanding government shutdowns and related issues, including continuing resolutions and the federal appropriations process. This new resource also provides a historical and legislative background to the upcoming fiscal
With the debt limit approaching and another showdown looming, the focus of some policymakers may naturally turn to how to avoid a similar potentially damaging impasse in the future. In that vein, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) has introduced a bill which addresses both the need to raise the debt limit and the need to put the debt on a sustainable path.
Yesterday, the House Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill was removed from floor consideration, showing a lack of consensus in Congress regarding how to live within the existing caps. The question of how the Congress should replace sequestration in a fiscally responsible manner is becoming increasingly important with this decision.
Just as they have for tax reform, the House Ways and Means Committee has begun organizing and pressing forward on entitlement reforms, starting with a discussion draft of a proposal to switch to the chained CPI. As with all of their discussion drafts, they are allowing for public comment, in this case until August 10. The draft is a welcome entrance into the debate about how to implement the chained CPI.
The appropriations process is usually arduous, but this year may be even more so. The largest disagreement between the Senate and House, which is nowhere close to being solved, is how to deal with sequestration. The Senate Appropriations Committee is working from an overall funding level of $1,058 billion for FY 2014, as was set by the Budget Control Act caps without sequestration.
Recently, a bipartisan duo in the House -- Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) and Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) -- introduced the SAVE Act, a bill to reduce federal government spending through reforms that would make the government more efficient. The bill includes many policies, including recommendations from the Government Accountability Office's reports on overlap or duplication in government, to reduce unnecessary spending.
Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee took a small step in the process to replace the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula -- Medicare's physician payment "system" -- with a more stable and efficient alternative by issuing draft legislation. Passed in 1997, the SGR formula is a backstop for Medicare spending which adjusts physician payments based on whether the program meets certain spending targets.
Although efforts to replace the sequester have been on hold for a while, the House Democrats, led by House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), have come out with a bill to replace the remaining 2013 and part of the 2014 sequester with $181 billion of savings over ten years. The bill is similar to one Rep.
Last week, the House Budget Committee released a package of budget process reforms consisting of seven different pieces of legislation.