Both House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the Obama Administration made public offers for a settlement to the fiscal cliff this past week, yet the sides seem no closer to a resolution. Revenue continues to be the primary sticking point with the Obama Administration reiterating that it would not sign off on any agreement that does not include allowing the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 per year to expire. Meanwhile, Republicans are continuing to insist that taxes not go up for American families.
It’s in many ways a war of semantics since tax rates are scheduled to go up at the end of the year anyway absent a settlement. Some Democrats have lately been urging that to happen so that they can’t be accused of “raising” taxes. They also believe that if the rates do go up the President will have more leverage since Republicans will want to bring them back down. The President does indeed seem to have the most leverage, not only with the tax cuts but also with public polling showing that the Republicans would get the most blame for a failure to secure an agreement and with many Republicans adamant that the defense cuts included in sequestration be forestalled. Still, going over the fiscal cliff could slow down the economy, something the Obama Administration surely doesn’t want, while Republicans also have leverage with the President likely needing their consent in the near future for another increase in the debt ceiling. It’s a complicated game of brinksmanship and it is sure to continue right up to the edge of the fiscal cliff if not beyond.
CWLA continues to urge Congress and the President to spare programs serving children and families in any deficit reduction plan. We have amassed over 13,000 signatures in support of holding children harmless and invite you to join our growing voice on behalf of vulnerable children and their families. Sign and share the petition today. Help us reach 15,000 signatures before December 10.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Senate passed HJ Res 117, the six-month continuing resolution (CR) that the House passed the week before . The bill now heads to President Obama who is expected to sign it. Passage of the CR removes the threat of a government shutdown by funding government operations through March 27, 2013.
The bill provides funding at a level consistent with the Fiscal Year 2013 spending cap included in the Budget Control Act (BCA). This represents an $8 billion increase in funding over the previous fiscal year. Some of the $8 billion will be set aside for emergency spending, but the majority of it will be distributed among all accounts via a 0.62% across-the-board increase in funding for programs. Though the CR ensures that the federal government will continue to be funded in the near-term, it does not address the sequestration cuts which are still scheduled to go into effect in January.
Congressional passage of the CR is considered a victory for the Senate, who had identified the BCA cap as its target all along. The House earlier this year passed a budget that cut funding by about $19 billion below the BCA cap. However, given Senate resistance to the House-passed budget and House leaders’ uneasiness over the political fallout of another protracted budget battle, the House relented and decided to accept the BCA caps as the target for the next six months. Whichever party controls Congress and the White House after the November elections will have an opportunity to reopen this debate next March when dealing with the remaining six months of the fiscal year.
Yesterday, House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources Chairman Geoff Davis (R-KY) announced his resignation effective immediately. He had previously announced his intention to retire at the end of end of the year, but he cited a family health issue as the reason for his early departure. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) announced that Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) has been named the Acting Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, where he will serve in this capacity for the remainder of the 112th Congress.
Chairman Davis was one of CWLA’s 2012 Congressional Advocates of the Year for his bipartisan leadership on behalf of vulnerable children though passage of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, which reauthorized Title IV-B of the Social Security Act covering Child Welfare Services and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program while also creating the new Title IV-E waiver program. CWLA thanks Congressman Davis for his service and wishes him and his family the best.
House and Senate leaders today reached a deal to pass a 6-month continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through next spring. Details of the agreement have not yet been made public, but the CR will reportedly fund federal agencies at current spending levels. This is more consistent with what the Senate has advocated but billions higher than the House included in its budget earlier this year. With both chambers of Congress scheduled to soon depart for the summer recess, a vote on the agreement will likely be held in September before the end of the fiscal year.