Highlights of CBO’s findings include:
- Projects an $845 billion deficit for fiscal year 2013.
- In 2023, the federal government will collect twice as much revenue as it did in 2012. Even with increased revenues, the deficit will hit $978 billion. Read more
Since the 113th Congress gaveled in on January 3, the US House has met eight days for legislative business and cast 30 roll call votes. The US Senate met for eleven days and cast an equal number of roll call votes. While numerous votes occurred they were cast on two main issues: supplemental spending for victims of Hurricane Sandy and suspending the U.S.’ current $14.294 trillion public debt limit through May 18, 2013. Included in the debt increase legislation was a provision that withholds the salary of Members of Congress until a budget is adopted for FY 2014.
Congress’ New Year’s Day vote did avoid sending the U.S. over the proverbial “fiscal cliff” extending the Bush-era tax rates for most Americans, as well as long-term unemployment benefits, among other things. But, Congress deferred for two months the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts (known as “sequestration”) of which half is directed to come from cuts to the Pentagon and the remainder from across the board spending on all domestic programs. Read more
U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) have re-introduced legislation to eliminate a costly and redundant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit requirement for applications of pesticides. S. 175, amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by stating that no permit shall be required for the use of a pesticide that is registered under the Act. It also eliminates the redundant requirement that Clean Water Act permits are not needed for the applications of pesticides. Senator Roberts introduced similar legislation in the 112th Congress where it was blocked from consideration on the Senate floor. Last year both the House and the Senate Agriculture Committees overwhelmingly passed similar legislation, H.R. 872, with strong bipartisan support. Read more
On Friday, the U.S. House Leaders from both political parties had an exchange on the floor of the U.S. House regarding the fate of the 2012 farm bill. (An excerpt from the November 30 Congressional Record is below.) During the exchange House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) again reiterated that House leaders plan to take up “the issue in and around the farm bill,” but again he gave no specifics on whether or not the action would include passing a new 5-year farm bill or extending the 2008 farm bill that expired September 30 this year. Read more
Going into the 2012 general election there was much fanfare about the U.S. electorate being upset with partisan bickering and wanting more accomplished by the lawmakers they send to Washington, DC. Presidential, Senate, and House candidates throughout the country spent months harshly campaigning and over $6 billion1 . The result – the President was re-elected without a clear policy mandate and Congress remains divided, suggesting partisan gridlock will continue. Read more
- Center for Responsive Politics [↩]
Don’t Mess With Agriculture!
A total 45 members currently serve on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee: 26 Republicans and 19 Democrats. Seven members of the committee will not return for the 113th session of Congress; one member announced his retirement and six were defeated in either their primary, or general election. North Carolina’s 7th congressional district will likely be recounted as Democrat incumbent and Agriculture Committee member, Mike McIntyre, leads challenger David Rouzer by 443 votes. Read more
Congressional Budget Office: Continuing Under Current Law Will Lead U.S. Economy Into a Recession in 2013
On August 22, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its update to the ten year U.S. Budget and Economic Outlook. The report highlights how high the stakes will be for federal lawmakers who will face hard choices in the six-week lame duck session of Congress following the November elections.
Under current law…
- on December 31, 2012 the Bush-era tax cuts and the payroll tax holiday are set to expire. Read more
House Agriculture Committee Unveils Draft Farm Bill With $12 Billion in Additional Savings Over Senate Companion Legislation
Last week the US House Agriculture Committee released their draft version of a farm bill dubbed, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM).
Some highlights of FARRM include:
- Saves more than $35 billion in mandatory funding, $12 billion more than the Senate version passed last month. (The US Senate version saves $23 billion) Read more
With presidential politics in full swing it’s hard to find an issue in Washington where bipartisan support exists. But in the past two weeks both legislative chambers have overwhelmingly supported user fees and targeted inspections for the federal agency responsible for the food Americans eat and the drugs we take every day.
Last week the U.S. House of Representatives adopted H.R. 5651, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reform Act of 2012, under “suspension of the rules” which is used to pass non-controversial bills. In the previous week, the U.S. Senate adopted their version by a vote of 96-1.
Some of the provisions of the legislation include:
- Approves $6.4 billion in user fees over five years, just over $600 million will be generated from medical device user fees that companies will pay to the FDA;
- User fees will be used to expedite medical device reviews and make drugs available to patients sooner;
- Expedites the approval process of certain prescription drugs;
- Alleviates the national prescription drug shortage by adjusting requirements; and
- Provides transparency allowing the public a list of prescription drugs in short supply.
80% of U.S. Medicine Ingredients are from Overseas
In addition to the user fees, the legislation makes sweeping reforms to the FDA’s inspections. For the past 70 years FDA has focused its inspections on U.S. drugmakers (inspections every two years). But the reality is 80 percent of ingredients used in medicines provided to patients in the U.S. are made overseas including countries such as China and India. FDA inspects the average foreign manufacturing facility just once every nine years. The legislation would now focus FDA inspectors to target the most problematic manufacturing sites, regardless of location.
In a recent statement, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg called the bill’s passage “innovative” and said it will improve “access to safe and effective medical products.” Actual results are yet to be determined.
User Fees As A Revenue Generator for Government
What is profound about this is that amidst partisan bickering, common ground was found overwhelmingly on the issues of user fees and targeting inspections to manufacturers with a history of violations. With austere budgets ahead at the local, state and national levels for the foreseeable future Congress is agreeing to user fees as a revenue generator and implementing methods that achieve efficiencies in government program delivery. This rare bipartisan tone in Washington may be enough to hasten state and local governments to move in the same direction of user fees and targeted inspections.
Federal lawmakers from both legislative chambers will work out their differences in a conference committee, likely in July. It is estimated the legislation will become law prior to the new fiscal year beginning October 1.
Cansler Consulting is an experienced lobbying firm in Food and Drug safety, budgeting, agriculture, rural healthcare, and energy policies and through our Congressional relationships we can help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill. You can contact us at email@example.com or at (202) 220-3150.
Congress is back next week from their Easter recess. The U.S. House and Senate are scheduled to be in session through April 27. Congress will be off the week of April 30 and return for a two-week session from May 7 – 18. All total for the month of May the House will be in session 10 days and the Senate will be in session 15 days.
U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee staff continued meetings this week with instructions from their bosses to be prepared for mark-up of the 2012 Farm Bill in committee on April 25. We understand that US Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) may have secured a commitment from Senate leadership for floor time for debate of the Farm Bill sometime in May. Read more
In actuality, the legislative business of the second session of the 112th Congress will begin in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 17 and in the U.S. Senate on January 23. President Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 24.
Here are some of the issues Cansler Consulting will be tracking for clients in the second session of the 112th Congress:
Agriculture: The last Farm Bill adopted by Congress in 2008 is set to expire on September 30 this year. Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will resume congressional hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill and have indicated that the starting point for the next farm bill will be the plan crafted for the failed negotiations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. That plan included $23 billion in budget reductions for agriculture. Read more
With only 12% of the U.S. approving of their job performance1, Congress returns this week to try and salvage their do-nothing reputation by completing multiple unresolved issues before the end of the year. From unemployment to payroll deductions, Congress is about to make some decisions that will affect almost every American.
How will these issues impact your business? Read more
- Real Clear Politics 11/17/11 [↩]
Federal departments and agencies are busy working on their annual budget submissions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for FY 2013 that begins October 1, 2012. This is part of the ongoing federal budget process that culminates in the release of the Administration’s budget each year in early February. By statute, the President is required to submit an annual budget to Congress. Even by Washington standards there’s irony to this event because typically the President’s budget (no matter the political party) is dead on arrival on Capitol Hill as each chamber of the U.S. Congress adopts their own budget resolution each year. But Congress has failed for multiple years under majorities in both political parties to produce a budget resolution in each chamber for the federal fiscal year. Read more
On Wednesday, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSCDR) held their third public hearing to focus on federal government discretionary spending. The hearing comes just one day after what is being reported as heated discussions took place over entitlement and tax reforms in a closed meeting of the JSCDR.
CBO (Congressional Budget Office) Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the JSCDR on discretionary spending which totaled $1.277 trillion in 2011, or 40 percent of all federal outlays. Read more
Friday, October 14 was the deadline for recommendations to the 12-member Super Committee on Deficit Reduction on how to cut federal spending by up to $1.2 trillion. With the Nov. 23 deadline for the super committee to unveil a proposal fast approaching, no one is certain how the 12-member Committee will go through the mounds of proposals, emails and data they have, and are continuing to receive. National Journal is reporting that “few if any of the suggestions (received) are likely to be innovative or ground-breaking in terms of policy.”
Yesterday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) met with US House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MM) sent their proposal that cuts $23 billion from the agriculture budget baseline. This may allow the agriculture committees to complete the next Farm Bill by the end of this session. Read more
After 5 years of deliberations, with broad bipartisan support, the House and Senate adopted free trade agreements with Panama (HR 3079), South Korea (HR 3080) and Colombia (HR 3078). The President signed the agreements on October 21.
The House and Senate are set to adopt three combined appropriations bills, dubbed “Minibus,” and send them to President Obama by the end of this week. Under an agreement reached earlier between leaders of the House and Senate the appropriations bills include
The combined bills total just over $180 billion in annual spending.
The federal government remains under a Continuing Resolution (CR) until this Friday, November 18. With this deadline fast approaching, lawmakers will attach another CR to the Minibus in order to keep the federal government operating thrrough mid-December. Congress will adjourn on Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday and upon their return continue working to complete the remaining annual appropriations bills. Read more
But, before the program ended, government officials approved ANOTHER $4.7 billion in loan guarantees to four more clean energy projects: SunPower Corporation, Project Amp, Antelope Valley Solar and Desert Sunlight. Because the U.S. taxpayers are solely at risk in financially backing their efforts, let’s hope these companies fair better than Solyndra. But let’s also learn an important lesson going forward about venture capital and the roles of government and the private sector. Read more
The U.S. House continues to focus on numerous federal regulations deemed as “overburdensome” and that if ended, may stimulate the economy and create jobs. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has sent a letter to President Obama requesting a list of all proposed regulations that are estimated to have an economic impact exceeding $1 billion. Read more
The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee led by Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) wasted little time after Congress’ return from the August recess to adopt a short-term extension of the surface-transportation legislation, Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA; P.L. 109-59). SAFETEA-LU is set to expire at the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, 2011. The adopted extension funds highway programs at current levels through January 31, 2012.
The republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives responded by adopting a six- month funding extension (at current levels) for surface-transportation and a four month funding extension for the Federal Aviation Administration.
With funding deadlines fast approaching and to prevent funding lapses, the U.S. Senate will adopt the same extension provisions later this week. Read more
On Wednesday of this week the U.S. House is scheduled to take up H.J. Resolution 79, making continuing appropriations for seven weeks into the new (FY 2012) fiscal year. H.J. Res 79 funds most federal programs through November 18 at the FY 2011 level, minus a 1.4 percent reduction. This level of appropriations was established in the recently enacted debt limitation law (P.L. 112-25) establishing a $1.043 trillion spending cap.
The U.S. Senate must quickly take up the bill as Congress is scheduled to recess the last week of September. With the new federal fiscal year beginning in 11 days (on Oct 1), none of the 12 appropriations bills have been enacted by Congress.
According to the 112th congressional calendar, 26 legislative days remain until the targeted adjournment on December 8. With only a few legislative days remaining already the House and Senate are headed for heated arguments in the usually congenial agriculture appropriations subcommittee over the new food safety law enacted at the beginning of this year.
Earlier this month the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee adopted their version of an FY 2012 spending bill for the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The U.S. House adopted their version of the bill on June 16 by a vote of 217-203. The provisions showcase a difference of opinion in implementing the new food safety law.
Specifically, the FY 2012 FDA budget request was $4.36 billion for all programs, of which just over $1.2 billion was allocated for food safety and animal drugs and feed. FDA requested an additional $324 million for the food safety initiative. Previously, the Congressional Budget Office estimated an additional $1.4 billion would be needed over the next five years to implement the Food Safety Modernization law (FSMA).
Find Deficit Cuts!
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reductions (JSCDR) is charged with identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by November 23. Should the Committee not surface at least $1.2 trillion in cuts, automatic cuts will be triggered to domestic and defense program spending in 2013. The first meeting of the JSCDR showcased some of the major difficulties panel members will face over the course of the next 76 days. Read more
Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives has adopted half of the 12 annual appropriations bill including Homeland Security, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Defense, Energy & Water and Legislative Branch. Three Committees have voted to send their bills to the House floor for debate and final passage including Commerce, Justice and Science, Financial Services, Interior & Environment. Three Committees have yet to adopt their bills; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State and Foreign Operations and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Read more
Recently, the Obama Administration announced that U.S. and Mexican negotiators finalized a program that will allow Mexican trucks carrying imported goods to travel throughout the U.S. to their destinations, a promise made by the U.S. eighteen years ago and codified in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The accord was reached 2 years and 3 months after Mexico, legally under NAFTA, applied tariffs of between 10 and 45 percent on 89 U.S. products totaling $2.4 billion. Read more
60 million Americans are living in rural communities throughout the U.S. and according to Cornell University, since the 1960s, the rural population has aged more rapidly than its urban counterpart. Hospitals serving rural populations have also been aging. In fact, rural hospitals average over 50 years of age and these facilities have already out-lived their lifespan and are unable to meet the demands of modern medicine and technology.
Time to Change the Tax Code to Encourage Investment in Antiquated Rural Hospitals
Rural healthcare organizations are challenged to meet the minimum financial requirements of Local, State, or Federal assistance programs to replace aging facilities due to current debt levels and capital needed to fund their development. Additionally, programs providing for the start-up and operational funding needed to stabilize a new facility, once built, are limited by the the already over stressed, local taxing districts. It is estimated that over 14% of rural hospitals throughout the U.S. have been lost over the past ten years and at the current pace that figure will be progressively exceeded. Simply waiting for better economic times is not an option. Read more
This past week Tim Cansler, founder and senior consultant of Cansler Consulting met with Members of Congress, including Speaker of the US House John Boehner (R-OH), and discussed issues that are top priorities for clients, including Budget, Farm Bill and Rural Healthcare.
“This was a good opportunity for our clients to have their issues front-and-center with leaders in Congress,” said Tim Cansler.
This year Congress has dealt with major issues including budget negotiations to prevent the nation’s credit rating from being downgraded and putting more constraints on our already fragile economy. A budget compromise will undoubtedly impact all discretionary and mandatory government programs at some level. Congress must soon begin deliberations on reforming the tax code and provisions that will spark investments and create jobs. More and more lawmakers are also giving serious consideration of writing the 2012 Farm Bill by year’s end.
Cansler Consulting is an experienced lobbying firm in agricultural, rural healthcare, and energy policies, and our congressional relationships will help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 220-3150.
With a deadline just days away, congressional leaders and The White House STILL cannot reach an agreement on how to move forward on reducing U.S. debt. All when the U.S. global credit rating is at stake amidst a capricious economy and the Treasury Secretary and leading Economists warning of the catastrophic nature of the U.S. default on its $14.3 trillion debt. The stalemate is due to lawmakers inability to make long-term decisions for the country, over old, ideological positions among political parties. Republicans are refusing to raise revenues (taxes) and Democrats are refusing to make policy changes to programs like Social Security and Medicare. Read more
A Farm Policy Battle continues to wage in the U.S. House of Representatives this week showcasing the escalating issue over how Congress must change current U.S. agricultural programs in the 2012 Farm Bill ruled as “trade distorting” by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“Do NOT Pay the $147 Million…”
Passed By Voice Vote
During the U.S. House Appropriations (full) Committee hearing on May 31, Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), (a member of the Tea Party Caucus that promotes fiscal responsibility) offered an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that reduces direct payments to U.S. cotton producers by $147 million, the amount equal to the Framework Agreement with Brazil. Congressman Flake’s amendment was adopted by a voice vote of the Appropriations Committee members. Read more
In mid-April the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a budget resolution (235-193) for fiscal year 2012. It estimated that the 2012 Budget proposes $178 billion in agriculture program cuts over the next 10 years. While the Budget Committee made it known that the Agriculture Committee will choose what programs to cut, they did suggest:
- $127 billion in cuts to the food stamp programs,
- about $30 billion in cuts to commodity programs,
- about $20 billion in cuts to other programs, and
- specifically mention conservation programs.
In the U.S. Senate, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) has unveiled a tentative draft that would cut the federal deficit by about $4 trillion over a decade.
Conrad’s draft proposal raises taxes by about $2 trillion and cuts spending by $1.5 trillion. Additional savings of about $600 billion would come from reduced interest payments. Savings of about $900 billion are achieved from defense programs and $300 billion in savings are proposed from non-security spending over a decade. It would also secure about $300 billion in entitlement savings over the decade.
Impacting future budget negotiations (and the writing of the 2012 Farm Bill) is a report released last month by the Government Accounting Office (GAO). Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) requested the report which researched the federal budget for opportunities to reduce potential duplication and streamline government programs, save tax dollars, and enhance revenue. Read more