Below is a summary comprised by The Normandy Group, LLC of the legislative and administrative actions that occurred in Washington, D.C. during the week of July 23-27, 2012. The Normandy Group is a well-respected government relations firm comprised of an experienced and dedicated team of professionals that provides valuable services to a host of diverse clients such as Fortune 500 companies, small and medium sized businesses, colleges and universities, hospitals, local governments, and not-for-profit organizations. Due to the fluidity of activities in Washington, the current nature of these issues may change by date of publication. Any necessary updates will be provided as warranted.
House. On Wednesday, July 25, the House voted (327-98) for H.R. 459, the “Federal Reserve Transparency Act,” which would direct an audit of the Federal Reserve. The legislation, long championed by libertarian Ron Paul and deeply opposed by Fed Chairman Bernanke, is not expected to advance in the Senate.
On Thursday, July 26, the House voted 245-172 on H.R. 4078, a Republican regulations bill which would provide that no agency may take any significant regulatory action until the unemployment rate is equal to or less than 6.0 percent. The bill is not expected to advance in the Senate.
On Monday, July 23, the GAO released a report that found that last summer’s partisan fight over the debt ceiling cost the Treasury Department $1.3 billion as the result of increased borrowing costs. To view the report, click here.
Senate. On Thursday, July 26, Senators voted 84-11 on a motion to proceed to final consideration of the Cybersecurity Act, S. 3414. The bi-partisan bill, which aims to protect the nation from cyber-attacks, including against critical infrastructure, will be debated next week under an open amendment process. In spite of the general support during this vote, it is unclear if the bill will still have enough support to pass after the amendment process.
On Wednesday, July 25, the Senate voted along party lines (51-48) to pass a one-year extension of reduced tax rates for households with income below $250,000. This policy position, which is being advocated for by the White House, is nonstarter in the Republican-controlled House, where a one year freeze on all rates is favored.
Administration. On Sunday, July 22, President Obama visited with survivors and offered condolences to family members of the victims of the Aurora, CO movie theater shooting.
On Wednesday, July 25, during a speech to the National Urban League, President Obama announced a new Executive Order to improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for African Americans. According to the White House, the Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, created by this Executive Order, will work across Federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students. The initiative aims to ensure that all African American students receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers. For more details, click here.
Healthcare. On Tuesday, July 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation updated its analysis to reflect the Supreme Court decision concerning the expansion of Medicaid with regard to the Affordable Care Act. The updated report estimates that the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net reduction of $84 billion.
On Thursday, July 26, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the launch of a partnership among the federal government, State officials, several leading private health insurance organizations, and other health care anti-fraud groups to prevent health care fraud. According to the HHS, “the new partnership is designed to share information and best practices in order to improve detection and prevent payment of fraudulent health care billings. Its goal is to reveal and halt scams that cut across a number of public and private payers.”
Veterans. On Monday, July 23, President Obama announced the launch of the reformatted Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The redesigned program, known as Transition GPS, is part of an effort to ensure that all service members are “career ready” when they leave the military. Click here for more information.
Labor. On Thursday, July 26, the Department of Labor announced nearly $260 million in grants to provide job training and related services to unemployed, low-income seniors. The grants will offer training to improve the employment opportunities for low-income seniors. For more on this announcement, click here.
Education. On Tuesday, July 24, the Department of Education, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, released its guidance for a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to promote transparency in student financial disclosures. Although the Shopping Sheet is not mandatory, the Department of Education hopes that it will be considered as a best practice to help “students better understand the amount of grants and scholarships they would receive from a given institution, and the amount of loans an institution recommends a student take out to cover out-of-pocket costs.”
Sequestration. Throughout the week of July 27, both Democrats and Republicans continued to express deep concerns over the impacts of the automatic budget cuts required under last summer’s debt ceiling agreement. Senator Harkin (D-IA) released a report analyzing the impact of the cuts to the non-defense sector. The report found that the cuts to the non-defense sector would have more negative impact on the economy. Addressing impacts of cuts to defense during a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing, Pentagon officials said that the cuts would require them to eliminate approximately 200,000 civilian employees.
Additionally, on Thursday, July 26, White House spokesman Jay Carney announced that he expects President Obama to sign the “Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012,” which passed the House during the week of July 20, and was approved by the Senate on July 25. The bill will require the President to provide a report detailing the sequestration to Congress within 30 days.
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