In response to the recent VA scandal and hospital backlogs, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has proposed legislation that would address the situation and authorize additional funding for the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA). Congressional Quarterly's (subscription required) Alan Ota explains:
Appropriations season is in full swing. The House has already passed the Legislative Branch and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bills, while the Senate Appropriations Commitee is scheduled to officially set 302(b) allocations and mark up the Military Construction-VA and Agriculture bills this Thursday.
The Senate is moving forward with tax extenders legislation, renewing a variety of breaks that expired at the end of last year for research, small business, and wind energy, among other provisions.
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing May 6th titled, “New Routes for Funding and Financing Highways and Transit.” During the hearing Senators and witnesses covered a range of topics including the consequences of the impending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the Administration’s four-year transportation proposal, and other budgetary, economic, and administrative issues with transportation funding.
The first official meeting of the conference committee is expected to occur sometime next week, at which point the conferees will begin attempting to reconcile the Senate and House budget proposals. Both budgets were passed with largely partisan support, so both Democrats and Republicans will need to look toward compromises over the next two months.
Bipartisan discussions over how to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling are coming down to the wire as this week begins, with only three days left until October 17 -- the date that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the U.S. government would be left with a dangerously low amount of cash on hand and default could potentially be imminent.
Today, the Fix the Debt Campaign's Congressional Fiscal Leadership Council released an open letter signed by a group of 120 former Members of Congress, calling for the President and Congress to start addressing the nation's fiscal problems. The members express that returning to the normal budget process is essential, and recognize that while working toward a bipartisan agreement may be difficult, it is necessary:
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