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

Volume 17   Issue 30- September 29, 2010
 

CONTINUING RESOLUTION (CR) SURFACES

Yesterday, Senate appropriators released a summary of provisions still under negotiation that form the basis for continuing appropriations for state-federal and other programs through Dec. 3, 2010. The Senate will insert these provisions into H.R. 3081, which both chambers could clear before the week is out. The CR will maintain funding for most programs at FY 2010 levels for the next two months. It appears that both the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Child Care Entitlement to States programs will be extended through the duration of the CR. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley [CR generally], Sheri Steisel, Lee Posey [human services])


CHILD NUTRITION BILL TO THE BRINK

Congress has but two days to pass a comprehensive reauthorization of child nutrition programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Although competing House and Senate bills, H.R. 5504 and S. 3307, are very similar, the House bill is more expansive. Both bills would increase funding for school lunches, require updated school meal nutrition standards, expand the Afterschool Meal Program to all states, add food safety requirements, introduce electronic benefit transfer systems in the WIC program and support state initiatives to end childhood hunger. The issue standing square in the way of consensus-building, however, is how to pay for the expansions in both bills. The Senate version uses a reduction in SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits to offset its costs, but H.R. 5504 is silent on offsets. NCSL urged passage of H.R. 5504 in a Sept. 24, letter to the full House signed by New Hampshire Representative Mary Jane Wallner, co-chair of NCSL’s Human Services and Welfare Committee. The letter, available at http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=21367, urges the House to find offsets other than the SNAP offsets in S. 3307. Congress failed to reauthorize these nutrition programs in 2009 primarily because of funding issues. This led to a one-year extension of these programs that ends Thursday. (NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Lee Posey)


NCSL CALLS FOR EXTENDING SSI

In a Sept. 28, letter to the House and Senate, NCSL expressed its support for ongoing bipartisan efforts to extend Supplemental Security Income due to expire tomorrow for roughly 5,600 elderly and disabled refugees. Currently, these refugees’ SSI benefits are limited under the assumption that they will become citizens and thus be eligible for benefits. These vulnerable refugees, however, face significant barriers to naturalization. An extension also would eliminate a cost shift to states. Washington Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, co-chair of NCSL’s Task Force on Immigration and the States, signed NCSL’s letter, available at http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=21369. (NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Jennifer Arguinzoni)


WAIT ’TIL AFTER THE ELECTION

Many prominent issues will wait until Congress returns from its election recess that begins Oct. 1. Among them is S. 3793, a “tax extenders” bill that revives nearly four dozen federal tax credits for calendar 2010 and includes the optional deductibility of state and local sales taxes. S. 3793, sponsored by Montana Senator Max Baucus, also would extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, TANF supplemental grants, the TANF emergency contingency fund, and state use of child support incentive funds to draw down additional federal funds. All four expire tomorrow. …All FY 2011 appropriations measures are unfinished and will either be dealt with individually or in an omnibus appropriations bill. The 2001 and 2003 federal tax cuts, including rate modifications, marriage penalty relief, capital gains and dividend rate relief, an expanded child tax credit and other provisions all expire on Dec. 31, 2010…Congressional debate swirls around whether to extend all tax cuts permanently or for a limited time (one to two years), to apply an extension to all but higher income individuals, or to allow all or some of the tax cuts to expire…Reinstatement of the federal estate tax is scheduled to return in 2011 at higher rates and lower exemption levels than in 2009…The extended authorization of highway and mass transit programs under SAFETEA-LU also ends Dec. 31, with another short-term extension likely. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley [taxes, appropriations], Sheri Steisel, Lee Posey [human services], Molly Ramsdell, Helen Narvasa [transportation]).