Morning Action: Labor Secretary Offers to Negotiate UI Extension with John Boehner
With an unemployment extension stalled in the House, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez sent a letter Wednesday to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, offering to negotiate on a range of job-creation measures and urging the speaker to act.
But Perez said the extension should not have to wait.
“You have indicated that [Emergency Unemployment Compensation] should only be extended in combination with job-creation measures, but EUC is itself an effective job creation tool,” Perez said.
Perez said the decision not to extend unemployment benefits has so far cost 80,000 jobs and will cost an estimated 240,000 jobs by the end of the year. He also offered to negotiate additional job creation measures.
ENERGY. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13% has blocked GOP amendments to a Senate energy efficiency bill:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to block Republican energy amendments Wednesday, likely dooming an energy efficiency bill and a separate vote approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
Reid’s decision to fill the amendment tree came after he tried to get unanimous consent to set up a vote to approve the energy efficiency bill and, if passed, set up a vote by May 22 on a bill approving the proposed pipeline. Both votes would have 60 vote thresholds, with no amendments in order.
In response, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 42%, sought consent that the Senate vote on five Republican amendments to the energy bill.
Both objected to the other’s requests and with no path forward, the energy bill will likely fail when the Senate votes to cut off debate, which is expected to happen on Monday.
TRANSPORTATION. A highway bill will be ready for a markup next week in the Senate (sub. req’d):
The big four highway bill leaders on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee plan to show their cards today with a bill that panel can mark up next week. Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 6% has already given some big hints, though, saying they are crafting a bill to authorize the Highway Trust Fund programs at “current levels plus inflation” for five or six years while moving some funds around to pay for certain goals.
You’re not likely to hear Boxer concede the need for any kind of bill that does not run for several years, but there is considerable talk around town — among some lawmakers as well as outside policy experts — that Congress may need to pass a temporary trust fund rescue this summer to transfer in as much as $18 billion to cover road and transit program costs through all of fiscal 2015.
IRS. House Republicans have found 10 percent of tea party donors were audited by the IRS during their targeting of conservative groups:
Despite assurances to the contrary, the IRS didn’t destroy all of the donor lists scooped up in its tea party targeting — and a check of those lists reveals that the tax agency audited 10 percent of those donors, much higher than the audit rate for average Americans, House Republicans revealed Wednesday.
Republicans argue that the Internal Revenue Service still hasn’t come clean about the full extent of its targeting, which swept up dozens of conservative groups.