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

Volume 17   Issue 21, May 28, 2010



Last night, congressional leaders dropped the $24 billion extension of the enhanced match for Medicaid and Title IV-E programs authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). They also jettisoned provisions extending COBRA premium subsidies and halved the period for retention and increase of Medicare physician reimbursements. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 4213, which now primarily contains extensions of various expired tax credits, an extension of unemployment benefits through Nov. 30, 2010, and a two-year Medicare physician reimbursement fix. If leaders cannot get 218 votes to pass the pared-down version of H.R. 4213, then expect a stand-alone bill that will temporarily extend for several weeks unemployment benefits, Medicare physician reimbursements and COBRA programs. There will be no further action until the week of June 7, 2010, at the earliest because the Senate left yesterday for the week-long Memorial Day recess after completing work on the FY 2010 supplemental appropriations bill (see next story). Last night’s House actions resulted from pressures to whittle H.R. 4213’s size to just over $100 billion, with a little more than half offset by revenue adjustments. While the enhanced match issue is not dead, it is on life support. For now, NCSL recommends that state legislators contact their U.S. senators and urge them to re-insert the enhanced Medicaid/Title IV-E match extension into H.R. 4213. Additional updated details on this issue will be posted to NCSL’s webpage. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (fiscal issues generally), Joy Johnson Wilson, Rachel Morgan (Medicaid), Sheri Steisel, Lee Posey (human services)


By a vote of 67-28, the Senate completed its work yesterday on H.R. 4899, the FY 2010 supplemental appropriations bill. The legislation provides additional funding for overseas military operations, replenishes the federal government’s disaster assistance accounts and compensates Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The legislation does not contain $23 billion in extended ARRA state fiscal stabilization assistance sought by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. Education funding assistance in an unnumbered House supplemental appropriations bill approved this week in committee, will likely be a bone of contention based on what has occurred with H.R. 4213. Neither H.R. 4899 nor the House committee-passed supplemental contains any offsets. It has been typical in previous years for supplementals to be designated as “emergency spending,” thus eliminating the need for offsets. That has changed with the increase in the annual federal deficit and cumulative national debt. It has also reinvigorated debates over what are “emergencies.” Stay tuned. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley (appropriations generally), David Shreve, Robert Strange (education)


Maryland Delegate Sally Young Jameson, chair of NCSL’s Agriculture and Energy Committee, recommended improving nuclear power plant licensing, developing an interim storage facility, standardizing nuclear power plant designs and classifying nuclear waste funds as mandatory spending in testimony given to the administration’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. The full text of her testimony is available at NCSL staff contacts: Tamra Spielvogel, Max Behlke


On Wed., May 26, the deficit reduction commission met for the second time. The 18-member commission primarily focused on making a concrete target for reducing the federal debt either by the year 2020 or further in the future. While panelists fervently debated what percentage of debt, either gross or public, of gross domestic product should be held in fiscal year 2020, neither a consensus was reached nor proposals discussed. The commission’s three working groups—discretionary spending, mandatory spending and taxes—will all meet in June before the commission’s next full meeting on June 30. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley