Bipartisan immigration deal in Senate
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest pro-business group, and the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor union, reached an agreement on a guest worker program, paving the way for a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill to be drafted and moved in the Senate.
The bill is expected to include an earned pathway to U.S. citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently here, improve border security, and help American businesses deal with the demand for both high-skilled and low-skilled workers.
Members of the bipartisan "Gang of 8" that have been working on the immigration issue in the Senate sounded optimistic after the announcement of the business-labor compromise. One notable exception was Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who took a more measured and cautious tone. Rubio said that much progress had been made, but that a deal had not yet been finalized. Rubio also stressed the need for an open legislative process that would allow for significant debate and for members to offer amendments to any legislation moved on this issue.
White House to finally release budget
After weeks of speculation on when it would finally be released, the Obama White House announced it will release its budget next week on April 10th. The budget is being released two months later than required by federal law. White House officials claim the budget was not released by the legally mandated February 4th deadline because several budget battles with Congress made it difficult to arrive at final numbers.
The President’s budget is expected to be pitched by the administration as a “compromise” rather than the traditional approach where Presidents simply lay out their spending priorities regardless of whether they have a chance to become law.
This “compromise” budget is likely to include the offer President Obama made to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last year that included $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction and tax increases.
While the President’s budget will include tax increases that are likely to draw fire from Republicans, his budget is also expected to propose significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security – a move that is likely to be opposed by many Democrats.
The President’s budget, however, is not all austerity. He is expected to propose an end to sequestration and new spending initiatives, such as universal pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds and a substantial investment in brain-mapping research. President Obama will pay for these new spending initiatives through a proposed increase in the cigarette tax, as well as a cap on how much wealthy individuals can accrue in their tax-free retirement accounts.
House to hold hearings on Bipartisan Entitlement Reform Proposals
This week, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) announced he was convening a series of hearings on bipartisan entitlement reform proposals in hopes of ending the political impasse over the question of debt and deficit reduction.
Chairman Camp’s announcement said these hearings will focus on entitlement reforms that have been offered by President Obama along with entitlement reform proposals recommended by the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Commission and the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici Task Force.
The Camp announcement was met with applause from advocates who have been pushing for a bipartisan “grand compromise” to deal with the looming debt crisis facing our nation.
Wednesday, April 10 — The House Rules Committee will meet to formulate a rule on H.R.1120, the "Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act," to prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum of the members of the board until such time as a board constituting a quorum shall have been confirmed by the Senate, at 3 p.m. in H-313.
Wednesday, April 10 — The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold an Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee hearing titled “Raising the Bar: Reviewing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education in America” at 10 a.m. in 2175 Rayburn.
Thursday, April 11 — The House Appropriations Committee will hold a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY2014 budget request for the Education Department at 10 a.m. in 2358-C Rayburn.
Tuesday, April 9 — The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2014 and the Future Years Defense Program” at 9:30 a.m. in G-50 Dirksen.
Tuesday, April 9 — The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold an Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing on Defense Department programs and policies with respect to emerging counterterrorism threats in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2014 and the Future Years Defense Program at 2:30 p.m. in 222 Russell.
Tuesday, April 9 — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Sylvia Burwell to be director of the Office of Management and Budget at 2:30 p.m. in 342 Dirksen.
Thursday, April 11 — The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the "Defense Authorization Request for FY2014 and the Future Years Defense Program” at 9:30 a.m. in G-50 Dirksen. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey will testify.
Washington by the numbers:
3 percent – The amount the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will increase Medicare Advantage reimbursement rates this year, up from a proposed 2.2 percent reduction, National Journal reports. The change followed an intense lobbying effort from the insurance industry.
“A group of priests, ministers, and rabbis are calling on President Obama to stop the White House drone program. The priests, ministers, and rabbis weren’t planning on working together, but they all happened to walk into the same bar.” — Jimmy Fallon
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