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Capitol to Capitol Newsletter - Volume 18, Issue 7

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

Volume 18  Issue 7 - February 25, 2011


HOUSE OFFERS BUDGET PLAN

After a week of debate, the House passed legislation on Feb. 19, 2011, that would fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year by a vote of 235-189. The measure, H.R.1, represents a $60 billion cut from the current funding levels and a decrease of $100 billion from the president’s FY 2011 proposal. During deliberations, 160 out of 583 amendments proposed were considered on the House floor, with 67 being adopted. Four amendments seeking deeper cuts were rejected; the House adopted nine amendments prohibiting the use of federal funds to implement various components of the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, the House passed an array of amendments prohibiting the use of federal funds by the Environmental Protection Agency to curb greenhouse gases and other regulatory activities. H.R. 1 would eliminate funding for the weatherization assistance program, the state energy program, dislocated worker assistance, high-speed rail and the workforce innovation fund program. The proposal would also cut funding in Title I, community development block grants, both the clean and drinking water state revolving funds and the low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP). A full breakdown of H.R. 1 and it’s comparison with the president’s FY2012 budget release is available http://www.ncsl.org/documents/statefed/JimMartinTable.pdf . (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN LOOMS

With the current continuing resolution (CR) expiring March 4, the House and Senate are having difficulty finding compromise to complete funding for FY 2011. While the House completed work on H.R. 1, the Senate plans on offering a “clean” 30-day CR and using that time to develop a bill that would fund the federal government until Sept. 30. Possible cuts from the Senate would likely reflect terminations and reductions which were recommended in the president’s FY 2012 budget. House Speaker John Boehner (OH) proposed the House could pass a two-week CR that would include $4 billion in cuts. With less than a week until the federal government would effectively shutdown, a fifth CR appears likely. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


HEDGING BETS ON TRANSPORTATION

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood addressed an NCSL leaders’ conference and announced his expectation for a reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU by fall 2011. SAFETEA-LU is definitely up for reauthorization this year. But, a major stumbling block is how to fund a multi-year plan out of a moribund Highway Trust Fund. President Obama’s proposed FY 2012 budget provides a multi-faceted major overhaul of state-federal highway, mass transit and related transportation programs, but it, too, lacks clear funding sources to accomplish the proposal’s goals. Therefore, it was not surprising last week to see the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approve an extension of SAFETEA-LU through September 30, 2011, given that authorization for transportation programs ends next Friday. If Congress follows this extension path, members will at least gain more time to ponder how to fund a three to six year reauthorization. Stay tuned. (NCSL staff contacts: Molly Ramsdell, Helen Narvasa)


PULLING THE TRIGGER DIFFICULT

On Feb. 15, 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office not surprisingly testified that federal agency rules “seldom trigger Unfunded Mandates Reform Act review.” UMRA’s complexity, thresholds, conditions and requirements impede the execution of more frequent agency review of regulatory impacts on state and local governments. Similar problems exist with review of legislation moving through Congress and reinforce perennial NCSL attempts to have the 1995 law strengthened. The GAO testimony is available at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-385T. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)

 

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