|Track 1- Economic Stimulus Package||Track 2 - Completion of '09 Appropriations||Track 3 - FY 2010 Budget||Track 4 - Stabilizing the Financial, Housing, and Auto Sectors||Track 5 - Reauthorization and Expansion of SCHIP|
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Track 1- Economic Stimulus (Jan/Feb):
Track 2 - Completion of '09 Appropriations (Jan/Feb):
Track 3 - FY 2010 Budget:
Track 4 - Stabilizing the Financial, Housing, and Auto Sectors (Ongoing)
This week the Senate takes up its version of economic stimulus legislation, which totals $888 billion. By comparison, the House-passed bill is estimated to cost $820 billion. CBO cost estimate of House-passed stimulus bill JCT revenue estimates for House-passed stimulus bill
Outlook for Senate consideration: Expect extensive debate on numerous amendments. Democratic Senate leaders will have to accommodate concerns of moderate Republicans in order to garner 60 votes to preclude a filibuster from stalling the bill.
All House Republicans voted against the House version of the stimulus bill last week (vote on H.R. 1). House Republican Leader Boehner raised concerns in a press release on Saturday that tax cuts constitute only 22% of the House-passed bill. Boehner Release
The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its portion of the Senate stimulus package last Tuesday (Jan. 27). Summary of Senate stimulus package
Also last week, the Senate Finance Committee marked up the tax and entitlement portions of the Senate stimulus bill. Summary of Senate Finance Committee stimulus provisions
As the Senate prepares to take up the stimulus bill with a House-Senate conference to follow, Members of Congress, the Administration, economists and policy analysts are engaged in an intensive debate about whether the various spending and tax provisions will be effective and meet the often cited criteria of "temporary, timely, and targeted."
This week, the House is expected to file an omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2009. The bill has been negotiated between House and Senate Democrats and Republicans and will likely not require a House-Senate conference.
Reason for the omnibus bill: Last fall, Congress completed action on only 3 of the 12 regular FY 2009 appropriations bills.
Background -- Last year's FY 2009 appropriations process was one of the worst on record. Only one FY 2009 appropriations bill made it to the House Floor.
There were two reasons for the serious disruption of the regular appropriations process. First, President Bush threatened to veto any appropriations bills that exceeded his requests, and Democrats--as reflected in the Budget Resolution--called for nearly $25 billion more than the President requested. Second, House Republicans attempted to amend appropriations bills with off-shore oil drilling amendments, strongly opposed by many Democrats.
Consequently, in late September, Congress enacted a stopgap measure to keep Federal programs operating. The stopgap measure:
The stopgap provision did not provide inflation adjustments for the covered agencies. However, some specific programs did receive increases: the low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) received a $2.5 billion increase over '08; Pell Grants for higher education received $2.5 billion over '08; and the WIC program received $1 billion over '08 to assist with nutrition for new mothers and their children.
In addition, the bill included $23 billion for disaster relief, and authorized $25 billion in loans to the auto industry to retool and develop more fuel efficient vehicles. (GM and Chrysler have since received separate bridge loans from the TARP to forestall bankruptcy.)Following is a summary of the late September stopgap measure:
Today being the first Monday in February, the President would normally be sending his FY 2010 budget to Capitol Hill.
However, in transition years, because the new President does not assume office until January 20th, the Administration is not expected to comply with the "first Monday" requirement.
The Obama Administration is reportedly planning to submit a broad outline of his FY 2010 budget proposals later this month and a full budget in late March or early April.
Click here for an overview of the congressional budget process that follows transmittal of the President's Budget.
Last Friday, Jan 30, GAO (Governmental Accountability Office) released its second critical report on Treasury's operation of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). GAO found that:"As of January 23, 2009, Treasury had disbursed about $293.7 billion of the $700 billion in program funds.... Most of the funds (about $194.2 billion) went to purchase preferred shares of 317 financial institutions under the Capital Purchase Program (CPP)....GAO’s previous report emphasized the lack of monitoring and reporting for CPP investments....In response to our recommendation, Treasury developed plans to survey the largest twenty institutions monthly to monitor lending and other activities.... While the monthly survey is a step toward greater transparency and accountability for the largest institutions, we continue to believe that additional action is needed to better ensure that all participating institutions are accountable for their use of program funds." GAO Highlights Full GAO Report
The Senate last Thursday, Jan. 29, passed a $33 billion bill to reauthorize and expand SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The Senate vote was 66-32, including 9 Republicans voting for the bill.
The SCHIP legislation complies with House and Senate pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules primarily by funding the reauthorization with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal cigarette tax.
The bill would extend the program for the odd length of four-and-a-half years because the cigarette tax increase will sustain the program for that length of time.
Former President George W. Bush vetoed a similar bill passed by the Democratic Congress in 2007.
Rather than proceeding to a House-Senate conference, the House is likely to take up and approve the Senate-passed version of the bill.