Capitol Building

Morning Action: Unemployment Extension Push Going Nowhere

UI.  Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) 56% reportedly called Speaker John Boehner Tuesday afternoon to push the House to take up the Senate’s unemployment insurance extension bill, but the conversation apparently went nowhere:

Heller spokeswoman Chandler Smith described the conversation as “good,” but added: “Speaker Boehner relayed the same message that he gave to the White House. Senator Heller will continue to work to get something done.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel offered the same synopsis. “The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: we’re willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs. Unfortunately [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions,” Steel said in an email.

EFFICIENCY BILL.  An energy efficiency bill offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 2% and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) 30% is facing more obstacles (sub. req’d):

As we reported yesterday , the Senate appears to be moving toward an agreement to disentangle the Keystone XL pipeline from the debate over the Shaheen-Portman efficiency bill (S 2262 ).

However, even if the plan to hold a separate Keystone vote come to fruition, Sen. Rob Portman , R-Ohio, noted there are plenty of other controversial amendments under consideration.

For his part, Majority LeaderSen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13%said yesterday he’s “open to anything that will move energy efficiency,” but complained that Republicans “keep moving the ball” on amendments.

SEBELIUS.  Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is refusing to testify before a Senate panel:

Sebelius had originally been set to testify before the subcommittee about the department’s 2015 $70 billion budget request on April 2.

According to another aide, however, several weeks after confirming the hearing date, she requested a date switch with the National Institutes of Health budget hearing on May 7. The committee accommodated her request.

Now, after announcing her resignation on April 11, she is refusing to testify according to the two aides, even though she is still the sitting secretary — remaining at the post until her successor, OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell is confirmed.

EX-IM BANK.  Sen. Mike Lee writes about how he’s fighting for equal opportunity in Washington:

Cronyist policies come in many shapes and sizes—from subsidies and loan guarantees to tax loopholes and protective regulations—but they all work the same way: The elite leaders of big government, big business, and big special interests collude to help each other climb to the highest rungs of success, and then pull up the ladder behind them.

With deep roots and powerful friends, the policies that contribute to America’s Opportunity Deficit will certainly not fix themselves.

The upcoming battle over reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank—one of the most egregious cases of corporate welfare—is the perfect chance to show the public who in Congress believes that even the wealthy and well-connected have to earn their success on a level playing field, subject to the judgment of the market.

OBAMACARE. The Heritage Foundation discusses the millions of dollars wasted on Oregon’s state exchange, which has decided to move from a state-based exchange to a federally-facilitated  exchange.  Heritage questions whether the federal government will be able to recoup the money taxpayers have already spent on the botched exchange:

Oregon’s exchange has experienced extreme technical difficulties, including never successfully enrolling one person from start to finish online during the 2014 enrollment period. The exchange board recommends switching to the federal exchange because the costs of fixing Cover Oregon would be too great.

Politico reports that Oregon officials are in Washington this week to meet with CMS officials on the details of the handoff.

It is unclear whether the federal government will, or would be able to, recoup any of the millions of taxpayer dollars completely wasted on building Oregon’s exchange—or if anyone will be held accountable for squandering the taxpayer money.

 

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