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Tag Archive | "Jobs Bill"

Capital Thinking Podcast

Given recent resignations and a death, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs 217 votes to pass the Senate bill. The whip count in the House remains close.  Congressman Joseph Cao, the only Republican who voted in favor of the House health care reform legislation, is not expected to lend his support to passage of the Senate bill. Representative Bart Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats, who authored the language in the House package to prohibit individuals from using federal subsidies to purchase plans in the exchange that cover elective abortions, have been vocal that they will not support the Senate package. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has suggested that the White House may strike a deal with the Congressman to address his concerns in a separate bill in exchange for support on the Senate bill. Although President Obama may be ready to move health care reform forward without Republican support, he must ensure that Congressional Leaders can rally Democrats.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the President wants the House to pass the Senate bill before March 18.  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, however, suggested that Congress could finish health care reform within the next two months. House and Senate Leadership had hoped to send a reconciliation bill to the Congressional Budget Office to be scored.

Meanwhile, last week, the Senate turned to a jobs package and tax extenders legislation, both which contain short-term fixes or extensions of expiring Medicare provisions. The Senate passed and the President signed into law H.R. 4691, the “Temporary Extension Act of 2010.” The legislation includes an extension of the Medicare physician fee fix as well as an extension of the therapy caps exceptions process through March 31, 2010.

When the Senate convenes today, it will resume consideration of the tax extenders package. The legislation is expected to pass this week with the Baucus substitute amendment, which extends the physician fee fix through the end of the year. The substitute amendment also includes a number of Medicare extenders that were included in the Senate-passed “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Representative Charlie Rangel took a temporary leave of absence as the Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee as the House Ethics Committee ruled that he broke ethics rules by accepting trips to the Caribbean. An investigation into claims of tax evasion and failure to report income from rental properties continue.  Michigan Congressman Sandy Levin will serve as Acting Chairman.

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Capital Thinking Podcast

The historic snowfall may have shut down the federal government for four days, but the Senate remained focused on advancing a jobs bill. In a surprise move, Senate Majority Leader Reid announced that the Baucus-Grassley jobs/extender bill, the “Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment” (HIRE) Act, which included several health-related provisions, will not be considered by the Senate. Instead, Sen. Reid plans to advance a smaller bill that does not include health-related provisions. The scaled-down bill now consists of payroll tax relief for businesses that hire new workers, extensions of the Highway Trust Fund and the “Build America” bond program, and expense deductions for small businesses. His announcement was apparently prompted by partisan tensions and disagreements on policy within the Democratic caucus.

The HIRE ACT contained a three-month extension of COBRA health benefits and a physician payment “fix” to prevent a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments on March 1. The health-related provisions may be advanced as a separate measure once Congress returns from its President’s Day recess.

Additionally, after the recess, President Obama will host a bipartisan commission health care summit with congressional leaders that will be televised live on February 25th. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent a letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders formally inviting them to the summit and informed them that the President intends to bring his own health reform proposal to discuss. Until now, the Administration has been hands off in drafting specific legislative language, and has left that role almost entirely to Congress. The letter stated that the legislation will “put a stop to insurance company abuses, extend coverage to millions of Americans, get control of skyrocketing premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and reduce the deficit.” Republicans were also encouraged to put forward their own health reform legislation for consideration at the summit.

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