Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 18   Issue 2 - January 21, 2011
 

With the U.S. Senate in recess until next week, all of this week’s congressional action occurred in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

HOUSE READIES FOR SPENDING VOTE

On Jan. 19, 2011, the House Rules Committee voted out H.Res. 38, which would direct the chairman of the House Budget Committee to establish non-security domestic spending allocations for the chamber’s 12 appropriations subcommittees for FY 2011. It would authorize the chairman, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, to make total allocations at levels equal to or below those in force in FY 2008. This translates into likely spending reductions in the $50 billion to $100 billion range and would include state-federal programs. A floor vote on H.Res. 38 (California Rep. David Dreier) is scheduled for next week. (NCSL staff contacts:  Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


WHAT’S ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK?

First indications as to where spending cuts could come from if the House has its way for either FY 2011 or the next fiscal year became evident this week. Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, ruled out across-the-board cuts. He further indicated that appropriations subcommittees would be given specific reduction targets once H.Res. 38 passes (see previous article). On Jan. 20, the House Republican Study Committee issued a two-page summary of a “Spending Reduction Act of 2011" that calls for $2.5 trillion in spending savings over the next 10 years. Among the items targeted for elimination or reduction is repeal of the enhanced Medicaid match states are scheduled to receive through June 30, 2011. Amtrak subsidies, state weatherization assistance grants, funds for state implementation of health care reform, essential air service grants and community development block grants also make the list. The outline calls for elimination of all remaining American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, elimination of federal civilian workforce salary increases for five years and a 15 percent reduction in the federal workforce. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


HOUSE CLEARS HEALTH CARE REFORM REPEALER

H.R. 2, legislation repealing federal health care reform law enacted in 2010, passed the U.S. House of Representatives 245-189 on Jan. 19. One day later, the House cleared H.Res. 9, legislation that directs four House standing committees to develop alternatives to the 2010 law. H.Res. 9 lays out a dozen general principles to be followed in drafting replacement legislation, including giving “states greater flexibility to administer the Medicaid program” and reforming “the medical liability system” by preempting the states’ traditional role in medical malpractice cases. H.Res. 9 (California Rep. David Dreier) passed 253-175. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated this week that H.R. 2 would not be scheduled for a Senate floor vote. (NCSL staff contacts: Joy Johnson Wilson, Rachel Morgan)


PRINTING COSTS PARED

This week the House continued with its new practice of acting weekly on legislation aimed at reducing federal spending. H.R. 292 (New York Rep. Christopher Lee) unanimously passed the House. It would reduce the printing of congressional legislation while increasing the availability of electronic versions. Preliminary estimates score out at $7 million in annual savings. With the Senate in recess, further action on this legislation is unknown. (NCSL staff contacts:  Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


ON THE HORIZON

President Obama will address the nation on the State of the Union on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 ... NCSL’s Spring Forum will be April 14 -15, 2011, in Washington, D.C.