Report for week ending October 06 , 2017.
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Stricter Abortion Limits: Voting 237 for and 189 against, the House on Oct. 3 sent the Senate a GOP-drafted bill (HR 36) that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization on the belief that the fetus can feel pain by then. This repudiates the medical standard in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, which holds that abortion is legal up to when the fetus reaches viability — usually after 24-to-28 weeks of pregnancy — and after viability if it is necessary to protect the health or life of the mother. Under Roe, viability occurs when the fetus can potentially survive outside the womb with or without artificial aid. This bill allows exemptions for victims of rape or incest and to save the mother’s life. Rape victims must receive counseling and medical care at least 48 hours before the procedure to be exempted. Doctors who violate this law could be criminally prosecuted.
Karen Handel, R-Ga., said: “There is broad consensus within the medical community babies at five months in the womb are not only able to feel pain, they can hear music. They can even respond to human voices.”
Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said: “Once again, the Republicans are proclaiming the falsehood that 20-weekold fetuses can feel pain, contrary to the conclusions of every reputable researcher in the field.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it faces a 60-vote hurdle.
Women’s Health Exception: Voting 187 for and 238 against, the House on Oct. 3 defeated a Democratic attempt to add a broad health exemption to HR 36 enabling women to legally have an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy if it is necessary to protect their short- or long-term health. This went beyond the underlying bill’s narrowly drawn exemptions for instances of rape and incest or to save the life of the mother.
Julia Brownley, D-Calif., said the bill “as currently written shows no concern for the long-term health of the mother, her future ability to bear children or her ability to care for her family. (It) would force women to carry pregnancies to term, even when their health is at risk.”
Martha Roby, R-Ala., said foes of the bill “adamantly defend a mother’s ability to have a late-term abortion and a doctor’s ability to perform it. But I have heard no mention of the third person in the room: the unborn baby.”
A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
10-Year Republican Budget: Voting 219 for and 206 against, the House on Oct. 5 approved a 10-year,largely non-binding budget blueprint (H Con Res 71) that would set the stage for later legislative action to reduce corporate and individual taxes by $5.4 trillion; cut non-defense spending by $5.8 trillion; change Medicare to a voucher program; convert Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and food stamps to state-run block-grant programs; repeal much of the Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law and devolve many K-12 education programs to state and local governments.
The fiscal plan sets ground rules allowing the Senate to pass a tax-cut bill by a simple-majority vote. It aims to produce a budget surplus by 2027 but offers few specifics for reaching that goal, leaving politically difficult decisions on slashing deficits up to House committees.
For fiscal 2018, which began Oct. 1, the budget would cap discretionary spending at $1.132 trillion, including $621 billion in non-emergency military outlays and $511 billion in non-military spending. Entitlement programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits account for the remainder of the year’s $4.024 trillion budget, which includes a $472 billion deficit.
Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said that while Congress has tamed discretionary spending, “it is the mandatory spending that is eating our country alive….For the first time in many years, the House budget finally restrains mandatory spending by instructing our committees to find at least $200 billion in savings over the next decade.”
John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said that under the GOP’s planned tax changes, “Families making $50,000 a year would be subject to a tax increase, while millionaires get a $230,000 average tax cut. That is not tax reform. That is a shakedown. In total, individuals will see their taxes go up by more than $450 billion, while corporations, wealthy pass-through entities and rich estates get a tax cut totaling $2.9 trillion.”
A yes vote was to adopt the Republican budget.
10-Year Democratic Budget: Voting 156 for and 268 against, the House on Oct. 5 defeated a Democratic alternative to H Con Res 71 (above) that called for increasing spending on domestic programs including education, infrastructure, housing, science, transportation and research and development; implementing comprehensive immigration reform; retaining Medicare and Medicaid as entitlement programs in the social safety net; improving the Affordable Care Act; raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans; closing corporate tax loopholes and putting domestic and foreign-affairs spending on a par with military outlays. The Democratic budget would increase taxes by $2.7 trillion over 10 years and result in deficits of $447 billion in 2018 and $852 billion 2027.
Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said: “Nothing brings more money to the Treasury than investing in education — early childhood, K-12, higher education, postgraduate and lifetime learning for our workers. That is how you grow the economy…not by cutting (education) in order to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.”
Francis Rooney, R-Fla., said: “This budget never balances. It will leave us with an $852 billion deficit by fiscal year 2027. It expands Obamacare, the most disastrous and heinous trick played on the American people that I can remember. It prioritizes amnesty over security.”
A yes vote was to adopt the Democratic budget.
Republican Study Committee Budget: Voting 139 for and 281 against, the House on Oct. 5 defeated the most fiscally harsh of several 10-year budget plans pending before the House. Drafted by the conservative Republican Study Committee and aiming for balance in six years, this budget called for slashing trillions from federal spending, inflicting its deepest cuts on domestic and foreign-affairs programs and entitlements including Medicare and Medicaid. This plan, which also called for changing Social Security and repealing the Affordable Care Act, was similar to the underlying GOP budget (H Con Res 71, above) in its proposed levels of tax cuts and military spending.
Mark Walker, R-N.C. said this fiscal plan “ensures a strong national security, robust economic growth, equal opportunity for all, a sustainable social safety net and a return to constitutionally limited government….”
John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said this budget “would decimate all of those services that the American people expect from the federal government.”
A yes vote was to adopt the Republican Study Committee budget.
Black Caucus Budget: Voting 130 for and 292 against, the House on Oct. 4 defeated an alternative 10-year budget proposal by the Congressional Black Caucus. In contrast to the Republican budget (H Con Res 71, above), this plan would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans by $3.9 trillion and curtail tax provisions that favor the rich, using the new revenue to fund programs in areas including K-12 and higher education, infrastructure, employment and healthcare. The Black Caucus budget also called for adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act, expanding Pell Grants, boosting historically black colleges and universities and reducing interest rates on student loans. The Black Caucus budget proposed a $497 billion fiscal 2018 deficit.
Danny Davis, D-Ill., said the plan “provides for all of the essentials, including defense and infrastructure (and) is focused on job creation, rebuilding our veterans’ hospitals, rebuilding infrastructure in our communities and putting people to work.”
Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., said the budget would “double down on generational theft — spending more and more money that we don’t have today and leaving our children and grandchildren to foot the bill tomorrow.”
A yes vote was to adopt the Black Caucus budget.
Progressive Caucus Budget: Voting 108 for and 314 against, the House on Oct. 4 defeated a 10-year budget proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus as an alternative to H Con Res 71 (above). In part, the plan would use deficit spending and tax increases on wealthy Americans to finance an expansion of domestic programs. It called for investing $2 trillion in infrastructure and $1 trillion in early-childhood education and universal child-care; increasing the minimum wage and narrowing the pay-equity gap; improving the Affordable Care Act while allowing states to adopt single-payer systems; implementing comprehensive immigration reform; public financing of federal campaigns; providing $200 billion in hurricane aid and funding for student-loan refinancing. The caucus said its budget plan would produce a fiscal 2018 deficit of $520 billion.
Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said: “Our budget is a contrast to what the Republicans are proposing. We can either cut Medicare to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires as our Republican budget does, or we can close tax loopholes to protect essential programs that invest in jobs. We chose investment.”
Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said: “The House Democrats’ budget and the Progressive budget before us now double down on policies that have impoverished and bankrupted nations wherever they have been employed down through history.”
A yes vote was to adopt the Progressive Caucus budget.
UNITED STATES SENATE
Confirmation Row Over `Net Neutrality’: Voting 52 for and 41 against, the Senate on Oct. 2 confirmed the nomination of Ajit V. Pai, 44, for a second five-year term on the Federal Communications Commission. He will continue to chair the five-member panel that regulates interstate communications ranging from radio to broadband. Pai drew opposition, in part, over his plan to repeal the FCC’s “net neutrality” rule, which requires service providers such as Verizon and ComCast to treat all Internet traffic equally. Critics say repeal would lead to the creation of a tiered system including fast lanes for web sites and apps willing to pay more for speedier delivery of their content.
Shelly Moore Capito, D-W.Va., said that with Pai as chairman, the FCC “has hit the ground running, enacting a broad strategic vision to close the digital divide, to modernize the commission’s rules, promote innovation, protect consumer and public safety and improve …daily operations.”
Tom Udall, D-N.M., said: “Who is against net neutrality? The mega-providers like Comcast and Verizon — Chairman Pai’s old employer — can benefit financially from giving advantage to selected websites. (His) record is that if there is a choice between consumers and big corporations, corporations win.”
A yes vote was to confirm Pai.