Main Street’s President Steve LaTourette recently appeared on “The Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson” on the Blaze Radio Network. His interview from the 04-03-2014 broadcast begins at the 39 minute mark.
Healthcare Deadline Delay (Again)
Late Tuesday night, the Obama administration announced that it was giving some consumers more time to sign up for health insurance. While it’s not technically moving the March 31 deadline, the administration is offering an extension–of unknown length–for people who had problems trying to meet the deadline.
According to a guidance document that the Health and Human Services Department released Wednesday, you can apply for an extension for the following reasons:
1) You experienced a natural disaster.
2) You have a medical emergency, such as an unexpected hospitalization.
3) HealthCare.gov or its supporting systems had a planned outage when you tried to enroll.
4) Someone who helped you sign up for coverage put you in the wrong plan.
5) Someone who helped you sign up for coverage didn’t actually enroll you.
6) You didn’t get the tax credits or cost-sharing reductions you’re eligible for.
7) The insurance company didn’t get your information from HealthCare.gov.
8) The insurance company got your information from HealthCare.gov, but it contained errors.
9) You’re an immigrant, and HealthCare.gov told you that you weren’t eligible for coverage or tax credits but you are.
10) Incorrect plan data were displayed when you selected a plan, and it might not be the plan you want.
11) Your family couldn’t enroll together due to system errors.
12) HealthCare.gov said you were ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP, but you are and need to get into the program.
13) HealthCare.gov said you were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, but you aren’t and need to get private coverage.
14) You’re still getting error messages on HealthCare.gov.
15) A caseworker doesn’t resolve errors with your application for coverage by March 31.
16) You are a victim of domestic abuse (you get until May 31 to sign up).
17) Other system errors stopped you from signing up.
Russia Sanctions/Ukraine Aid Package
After Senate Democrats backed down on the inclusion of language aimed at reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the House and Senate both passed legislation aimed at punishing Russia and providing aid to Ukraine in response to the situation in Crimea.
Senate Democrats had been pushing for the IMF reform provisions, which are backed by the Obama administration. The IMF language, however, was opposed by many conservative organizations and conservatives in the House.
The final legislation passed by both chambers would freeze the assets of and revoke the visas of Russian officials and their associates who are complicit in or responsible for corruption in Ukraine. The legislation also includes $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. The cash-strapped country says it needs more than $35 billion over the next two years to avoid defaulting on its debt.
House Republicans to Produce Budget
Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Friday that House Republicans will, in fact, produce a budget resolution this year. Speaker John Boehner said so last month. But doubts persisted, and some Republicans even suggested it would be better not to do one.
But in a memo sent out Friday by Cantor to fellow House Republicans about the remaining March and April agenda, he wrote, “We owe it to the American people to demonstrate how we will allocate their tax dollars and balance the budget.”
Cantor’s announcement comes amid nagging questions about whether such a plan could pass in the House, and whether Republicans should—or even have to—produce a budget as they head toward November’s elections.
The House doesn’t necessarily have to touch the budget issue, because the two-year budget agreement already set top-line numbers for 2015. Democrats who control the Senate already have said they won’t pass their own budget resolution.
The congressional timetable sets the deadline at April 15—about three weeks away—for completing action on the annual budget resolution for the new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
House Democrats Launch Discharge Petition on Immigration
After launching a so-far unsuccessful discharge petition seeking to force a vote in the House on raising the minimum wage, House Democrats announced a similar effort aimed at forcing a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.
A discharge petition forces House leaders to put legislation on the floor for a vote. It needs a majority of House members, or 218 signatures, to succeed. Such efforts are rarely successful because signing the petition is considered a sign of disloyalty for a member of the majority party. Even if all 199 sitting Democrats endorse the immigration discharge petition, it would still need 19 GOP signatures.
It is highly unlikely that the discharge petition will garner the signatures necessary to force a vote – despite the fact that a majority of House members have indicated they support immigration reform.
Doc Fix Update
After failing to come to an agreement on how to pay for a permanent repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), the House – by voice vote – passed another temporary “doc fix.” The move on Thursday is aimed at preventing a 24% cut in Medicare reimbursements to physicians.
The Senate is expected to take up – and pass – a one-year “doc fix” today.
The temporary measure is a disappointment for physicians who have been pushing for a permanent repeal of the SGR. A bipartisan, bicameral deal was reached earlier on how to permanently repeal and replace SGR, but the Republicans and Democrats could not come to an agreement on how to pay for such a move.
Camp’s First Step in Tax Reform: Make Certain Extenders Permanent
Recently, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) unveiled his comprehensive tax reform plan. Camp’s ambitious plan. however, was essentially dead on arrival in both chambers.
Recognizing the political realities of trying to move legislation like comprehensive tax reform in an election year, Chairman Camp will try the incremental approach instead. In a memo to Ways and Means Committee members this week, Camp promised to take several steps over the next couple of months, “paving the way for tax reform by making incremental progress towards full reform.”
A key component of this incremental approach will be an effort to make certain tax extenders, which expire and have to be renewed every year, permanent. Camp writes,
“I have heard from many Members on this issue, all of whom recommended taking an approach similar to that of the Administration, i.e., that certain tax extenders should be considered, and treated, as permanent parts of the baseline off of which tax reform is enacted.”
The language used by Camp suggests that he made abandon looking for offsets to pay for making these extenders permanent.
TSA Rejects Calls to Arm Security Screeners
In the wake of the shootings at LAX, there have been calls to arm TSA security screening agents. This week, the TSA released a 26-page report that recommends that local and airport police place armed personnel at security checkpoints during peak times but rejected calls to actually arm TSA agents.
According to the report by TSA, only 51 of the 447 airports have law enforcement present at security checkpoints and about a quarter of them have no police officers directly assigned to the airport.
The union that represents TSA agents, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), has urged that armed law enforcement be present at security checkpoints and other key locations in every airport.
California 7th Congressional District: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed former Congressional aide Igor Birman (R-CA). Birman faces former Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA) and former Senate nominee Elizabeth Emken (R-CA) in the primary.
Illinois 10th Congressional District: Planned Parenthood announced it would endorse Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) over former Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL). The organization stayed neutral in this race in 2012 when Dold was the incumbent.
Idaho 2nd Congressional District: Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) launched a television ad attacking his Club for Growth supported opponent, Bryan Smith, for being a personal injury lawyer who has “enriched himself by filing over 10,000 lawsuits.”
New York 22nd Congressional District: State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R-NY) will mount a primary challenge to Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY).
Colorado: Incumbent Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) launched a web ad hitting challenger Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) over his switch on abortion and personhood legislation.
Georgia: A new poll shows a very tight race in the GOP Senate primary in the Peach State. Businessman David Perdue leads the pack with 17%, followed by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) 15%, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) 10%, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) 8% and former Georiga Secretary of State Karen Handel 5%. A second poll this week showed similar results with Perdue at 21%, Kingston and Broun at 15% and the rest of the pack trailing.
Iowa: A conservative group, Priorities for Iowa, launched a $250,000 television ad campaign attacking Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) for comments he made about Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) being a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”
Iowa: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) endorsed State Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) who earlier this week made news for launching a television ad that touted her background as someone who had castrated hogs growing up.
Virginia: A new poll shows incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) leading likely opponent Ed Gillespie (R-VA) by 15 points (46% -31%). Gillespie is the former Chair of the Republican National Committee.
A LOOK AHEAD
Tuesday, April 2 – The Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance will hold a hearing, “Examining the GM Recall and NHTSA’s Defect Investigation Process,” at 10 a.m. in 253 Russell. General Motors CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to testify.
Wednesday, April 2 – The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing, “Keeping College Within Reach: Meeting the Needs of Contemporary Students,” at 10 a.m. in 2175 Rayburn.
TOP ISSUES FROM THIS WEEK:
U.S. Economy Added 175K Jobs in February
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the economy added 175,000 jobs in February, besting economists’ expectations of a roughly 150,000 payroll gain. Many had warned of downside risks, given February’s bad weather—which hit during the period BLS conducts its employment surveys—and two weak labor-market reports released earlier in the week.
It was—and is—tough to tell. Teasing the precise weather effects out of the report is a difficult task. Just ask BLS, which says so explicitly: “It is not possible to quantify the effect of extreme weather on estimates of over-the-month change in employment,” the new report says. “What we need to do and will be doing in the weeks ahead is to try to get a firmer handle on exactly how much of that set of soft data can be explained by weather,” Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, said at a recent hearing.
Now, some economists are pointing to Friday’s report as evidence that the poor performance of the past few months was the result of the weather after all, and the economy is due for a payback.
The addition of jobs has been growing at a steady pace for the last few years. Monthly employment gains averaged 174,000 in 2011, 186,000 in 2012, and 194,000 in 2013.
Senate Democrats Pull All-Nighter for Climate Change
On Monday night, Democrats in the Senate pulled an all-nighter talking about climate change. Thirty Senate Democrats, who are part of a new “Senate Climate Caucus” spoke for 15 hours about the perils of climate change.
The all-nighter, as well as the new climate caucus, are part of a broader effort to raise the profile of the climate change issue – particularly in the 2014 mid-term elections.
Recently, California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer pledged to spend up to $100 million in November on candidates who will make climate change a priority. This huge infusion of money into the 2014 elections has helped give rise to a growing group of candidates that environmental activists are referring to as “climate candidates” – politicians who are making the climate change issue a central part of their campaign.
Despite the massive infusion of money and the efforts to raise the profile of the issue, the reality is that no legislation can pass without Republican support – something that is woefully lacking on the climate change issue. Additionally, advocates have yet to convince moderate Democrats of the need to tackle the issue. Indeed, analysts were quick to note that none of the four most vulnerable Democratic incumbent senators in the midterms – Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) or Mark Pryor (D-AR) – participated in the all-night climate push.
Senate Reaches Deal on Unemployment Insurance
The question of how to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed, which expired at the end of 2012, has been hotly contested in the Senate for almost three months. It appears the debate – at least in the Senate – may finally be coming to a resolution.
Senate negotiators reached an agreement that will extend the unemployment insurance program for five months. The benefits affect the long-term unemployed who have been out of work for at least six months. Because the new program will include retroactive benefits from December, the extension would expire for all beneficiaries in late May.
The agreement is similar to one proposed by Senate Republicans just last week.
The GOP plan is paid for by extending customs user fees through 2024, preventing individuals from receiving both unemployment and disability benefits, and pension smoothing. That bill also reforms the overall program, requiring beneficiaries to take any “suitable work” offered to them, asking state and federal agencies involved to determine why an individual remains unemployed, and preventing millionaires and billionaires from receiving the benefits.
Because of the recess, a vote is not expected until after senators return to Washington on March 24.
This will mark the fourth time this year that Senate leadership has brought an unemployment insurance package to the floor. The last effort, back in February, came just one vote short of the 60 needed for passage.
A Senate deal is still far from guaranteed to pass the House, where Republicans have expressed opposition to extending the benefits. House Speaker John Boehner has insisted he will not bring an unemployment insurance fix to the floor unless it is fully paid for and also includes a separate job-creation provision.
Schumer and Alexander Work to “Fix” the Senate
Dysfunction is nothing new in Washington, but there is little doubt that dysfunction in the U.S. Senate has been at an all-time high recently. Two Senators, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), have been quietly working behind the scenes to make the Senate work – at least when it comes to largely non-controversial pieces of legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will allow debate on the reauthorization of a child-care block-grant program – where both sides will get equal time and equal opportunity to offer amendments. This will be a return to more regular order in the Senate.
If all goes as planned, Reid will allow the same process on a handful of other bipartisan initiatives ranging from sentence overhauls to manufacturing to energy efficiency.
Bipartisan Agreement Reached on Housing Finance Reform
This week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID) announced a plan for housing finance reform.
The Johnson-Crapo proposal builds on a plan introduced last year by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) that would wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replace them with a new agency, known as the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation. This new agency would be modeled after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Like the Corker-Warner plan, the new agency would guarantee certain mortgages after the first 10 percent of losses on new loans are covered by private capital, according to an outline of the bill.
While the proposal will be marked up in committee, it is unlikely to receive a floor vote this year. However, the legislation, should it pass successfully out of committee, could provide the basis for a bill that could pass next year.
California 33rd Congressional District: Twenty-one candidates have filed paperwork to run for the seat being vacated by long-time Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Florida 13th Congressional District Special: Republican David Jolly, a former lobbyist and onetime aide to the late Rep. Bill Young, (R-FL), defeated Democrat Alex Sink, a former state CFO, in the 13th Congressional District special election.
Idaho 2nd Congressional District: The Club for Growth went up with television ads attacking Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). The Club has endorsed Simpson’s primary challenger Bryan Smith (R-ID).
Michigan 3rd Congressional District: Businessman Brian Ellis (R-MI) released a television ad this week attacking Tea Party favorite Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) for not voting to ban gender selection abortions.
Michigan 12th Congressional District: Debbie Dingell, wife of retiring Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), was endorsed this week by EMILY’S List.
Alaska: The Club for Growth endorsed former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan over former Club endorsed Joe Miller (R-AK).
Iowa: A new poll shows Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) with a wide lead over all of his potential Republican challengers. Republicans have had high hopes that the seat left open by the retirement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) would be a potential GOP pickup in November.
Mississippi: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin endorsed State Senator Chris McDaniel (R-MS) in his primary challenge to Senator Thad Chochran (R-MS).
New Hampshire: After months of flirting with the idea of running for Senate against Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), it appears former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown will indeed run.
A LOOK AHEAD
The House and Senate are Not in Session Next Week
A recent article in the magazine CAPITAL, a German-language business publication, focused on Main Street and its efforts for the 2014 election cycle. The article discusses the internal struggle within the Republican Party, and features an interview of Sarah Chamberlain, the COO/CFO of Main Street. The original German article, as well as the English translation, can be found below.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
WASHINGTON, D. C. – Former Bainbridge Township Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette on Wednesday night offered to stop the Main Street Partnership’s fundraising for moderate GOP candidates and “turn back every farthing” if the conservative Club for Growth stops attacking middle-of-the-road incumbents.
“If you spent as much money as you spent as much money attacking Democrats as you spend on attacking Republicans, maybe we could have a Republican Senate and a Republican President of the United States,” LaTourette told the group’s president, Chris Chocola, during a Wednesday night debate sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.
At a recent policy meeting with Warren Payne, Policy Director for the US House Committee on Ways and Means, the Main Street Partnership unveiled three new white papers focusing on tax policy reform. The papers were authored by Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The three papers can be found below.
Distilled to their discouraging essence, Republicans’ reasons for retreating from immigration reform reflect waning confidence in American culture and in the political mission only Republicans can perform — restoring U.S. economic vigor. Without this, the nation will have a dismal future only Democrats can relish: government growing in order to allocate scarce opportunity.
Many Republicans say addressing immigration will distract from a winning focus on Obamacare. But a mature party avoids monomania, and Obamacare’s manifold defects are obvious enough that voters will not require nine more months of reminders.
Many Republicans say immigration policy divides their party. If, however, the party becomes a gaggle of veto groups enforcing unanimities, it will become what completely harmonious parties are: small.
Statement by former U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), President of the Main Street Partnership
(Washington, DC) – Tonight, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed a clean debt ceiling increase bill. In response, former U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), President of the Main Street Partnership, issued the following statement:
“Tonight, we saw lawmakers in both parties who were willing to put partisanship aside and do what was right for the stability and safety of the American economy and pass legislation that will raise the debt ceiling.
“This moves insures that America will not default on any of its debts and Main Street praises those members who refused to play politics with the credit worthiness of our country. Particular praise goes to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), who once again shows what real leadership and political courage looks like. In the face of opposition from an array of extremist special interest groups like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, Speaker Boehner moved this legislation through the House – he single handedly is responsible for preventing an unthinkable default on our debts by the federal government.
“There are those in the Republican Party who say that Speaker Boehner should have extracted some policy concession from President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate. That is exactly what he tried to do, however, we live in an era of divided government, and wanting something isn’t enough to make it happen.
“At the end of the day, Speaker Boehner and the 28 Republicans who voted for this bill did what was right and chose to govern. We thank them for their efforts.”
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The Main Street Partnership is dedicated to promoting and building a pragmatic, thoughtful, fiscally conservative, and inclusive “Governing Majority,” where political debate is encouraged to promote solutions to improve the lives of all Americans. Embracing the full spectrum of center-right ideologies and values in order to build coalitions, the Main Street Partnership is the largest organization of elected leaders who are in the mold of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. For more information on the Main Street Partnership, visit our website at www.republicanmainstreet.org.