Critical House GOP meeting on immigration
On Thursday, the House Republican conference met to discuss the future of immigration reform. Click here to read our Immigration Reform Update issued on July 10, 2013.
Reports from the 2½ hour meeting indicated that the majority of the Republican caucus came down overwhelmingly against comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. In spite of the opposition, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned his caucus that there would be a steep political price to pay if they did nothing, especially in light of the Senate’s bipartisan passage of comprehensive reform. The prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in the House have certainly dimmed, particularly for this year. One thing that was clear in the wake of this critical meeting is that the House will move slowly on immigration reform – no matter what the substance of that policy actually may be.
Obamacare opponents seek to exploit implementation delay
Over the 4th of July week recess, the Obama Administration announced they would be suspending the penalty for the employer mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) for 2014.
Republicans in both chambers jumped on the announcement as more proof that the President's signature healthcare law was bad policy. House Republicans are readying a legislative strategy that will not only give the green light to Obama's waiver of the employer mandate, but will also seek to pass legislation that will also delay the individual mandate provision as well.
Supporters of the law claim that the waiver of the penalty for the employer mandate provision is just a tiny bump in the road and the administration says the new on-line healthcare insurance exchanges will be up by October 1the latest.
Senate moves employment non-discrimination bill forward
On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee voted to send the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) — a bill to ban anti-LGBT workplace discrimination — to the Senate floor. The bill was approved by a vote of 15-7, with all of the Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans (Sens. Kirk of IL, Murkowski of AK and Hatch of UT) voting for the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he hopes to bring ENDA to the floor for a vote “soon.”
The Republican-controlled House is unlikely to consider the legislation.
Additional environmental regulations expected
In addition to the recent plan to issue greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants, the Obama administration is also planning a slew of other environmental regulations.
The new regulations, previewed in the administration's spring regulatory roadmap released this week, cover everything from pollution runoff from military ships to landfill methane emissions.
This September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to propose rules for greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, and next June will issue draft rules for existing facilities.
Additional EPA action is expected to regulate the pollution discharges from military ships, including drainage from onboard photography labs, deck runoff from rain and seawater, and foam used to fight fires onboard.
Other rules planned to be proposed in coming months would regulate new refrigerants used in automobile air conditioners, update 29-year-old standards for grain elevators, and renew an effort to change disposals of pharmaceuticals that are considered hazardous waste.
The EPA also plans to finalize a rule on landfill emissions next July.
The farm bill part 2
The saga of the farm bill continues. After a surprising defeat on the House floor a few weeks ago, House Republicans moved a farm bill that excluded provisions for the food stamp program. The pared-down farm bill passed the House on Thursday afternoon by a vote of 216-208 despite continued conservative opposition from groups like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action.
President Obama has threatened to veto any farm bill that does not include the food stamp provisions and the Senate has already passed a farm bill that includes funding for the program.
Cabinet updates - The nuclear option
A showdown is coming in the Senate over the use of the filibuster by Republicans to block a handful of Obama cabinet appointees from confirmation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) believes he now has the support of 51 Democrats to change the rules regarding the filibuster. The move to end the filibuster of cabinet appointees is what has been referred to as the "nuclear option."
Interestingly enough, Republicans proposed a similar move when they controlled the Senate, a move then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid strongly opposed.
Idaho 2nd District: The Club for Growth announced on Wednesday it was endorsing attorney Bryan Smith (R) in a primary against Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Simpson raised more than $300K in the second quarter, while Smith said he raised $149K, including $50K from his own pocket.
Maine 2nd District: Republican State Rep. Alex Willette announced he will run for the seat currently held by Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME). Michaud announced last month he is exploring a bid for Governor. Willette, who is just 24, will likely face a crowded primary in what could be a competitive general election race.
Virginia 10th District: Former Democratic Congressman Artur Davis, who represented Alabama in Congress, has commissioned a poll testing himself as a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in the event that current Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) retires.
Alaska: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) hinted she might jump into the race against Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) in 2014.
Iowa: "After weeks of deliberations," State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) announced her candidacy on Wednesday for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).
Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) raised $2.2M in the second quarter and has $9.6M cash on hand.
A look ahead:
Washington by the numbers
TENS OF THOUSANDS - The number of Social Security numbers the Internal Revenue Service unwittingly exposed, according to a new audit this week.
“Last week, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, hundreds of people dressed their dogs up like Abraham Lincoln. When reached for comment, the ghost of Abraham Lincoln said, "‘It makes it all worthwhile.’” – NBC’s Conan O’Brien
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