Federal Relations

Congress Back in Session

Congress reconvenes this week after a two-week recess. Congress will be looking at the President’s Budget Request, and also wrestling with the debt ceiling, which is expected to expire yet again, this time in mid May. Also on the agenda this week (and through the month of April):  immigration reform, gun control/safety, and FY14 appropriations.

Tuesday

  • The Senate Budget Committee holds a confirmation hearing for Office of Management and Budget Director nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz to be the Secretary of Energy.

Wednesday

  • President Barack Obama releases his FY14 budget request (link will be active upon release of budget).
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a confirmation hearing for Office of Management and Budget Director nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

Thursday

  • The House Ways and Means Committee with hold a full committee hearing on the President’s FY14 Budget Proposal.
  • The Senate Budget Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the President’s FY14 Budget Proposal.
  • The Senate Finance Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the President’s FY14 Budget Proposal.

President’s Budget: The President’s FY14 budget proposal, set to be released Wednesday, will include $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over the coming decade and propose dramatically shrinking, but not eliminating, the deficit by 2023. It would cut the deficit by eliminating some tax deductions for the wealthy and making entitlement cuts. The new budget effectively incorporates the President’s “grand bargain” that was offered to Republicans in the late December fiscal cliff debate, including a stingier measure of inflation that would shrink increases in Social Security and other benefits across the government, cut Medicare payments to drug companies, and require wealthier seniors to pay higher premiums. It also would increase revenue through “bracket creep” in the tax code. The President’s budget faces tough critics in Congress, on both sides of the aisle.

A senior administration official confirmed Friday that the FY14 budget will propose an increase in the tobacco tax to partially offset the cost of providing free, universal preschool for all low- and moderate-income children. Obama’s early education plan, first unveiled in his State of the Union address, would create a new federal-state partnership to provide all low- and moderate-income 4-year-old children with high-quality preschool, expand the programs to additional children from middle-class families and provide incentives for full-day kindergarten policies.

Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative: The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced on March 26th the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), a new Department effort focused on expanding U.S. manufacturing of clean energy products and increasing energy use in manufacturing processes.

BRAIN Initiative: President Obama unveiled the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative last week, which aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.

Gun safety/control: Prospects for a bipartisan deal to expand federal background checks for gun purchases are improving. Read more here.  

ImmigrationFive things to watch for in the immigration debate.