Capitol Building

Morning Action: Another Attempt at Extending Unemployment Insurance

UI.  Senators are looking at an unemployment insurance extension once again:

Senate negotiators are back at the drawing board in trying to renew emergency unemployment-insurance benefits for more than 2 million Americans who have been out of work for at least six months.

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada have resumed negotiations to create new legislation that would extend the benefits.

The Senate passed a bill in April that would have extended the benefits through May and provided retroactive checks to those who had stopped receiving payments since the program expired on Dec. 28. But that legislation expired on May 31 with no action in the House, putting the onus on senators who favor the program to try again.

BURWELL. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13% is reportedly displeased with the way Republican senators are carrying out the confirmation process of Sylvia Matthews Burwell (sub. req’d):

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said yesterday that Republican leaders are insisting on using “every minute” of the 30 hours of debate time on the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell “to do nothing.” That would mean her confirmation vote won’t come until Thursday afternoon, just before a group of senators heads off to Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Although Burwell moved easily through her confirmation hearings and onto a Senate Finance Committee vote last month with bipartisan support, a group of Republican senators has tried to slow up movement on the nomination, pressing her for several weeks on her perception of the 2010 health care overhaul (PL 111-148, PL 111-152).

EX-IM BANK.  The Export-Import Bank does not really help small business, and by its very nature, does not help create jobs (sub. req’d):

Ex-Im’s subsidies remain dedicated to decidedly large businesses. The “small business” category rarely exceeds a fifth of the bank’s total authorizations, despite being a category that includes businesses few people would consider “small.” Does a breakfast cereal manufacturer with 1,000 employees sound like a small business to you? How about a printing press with 500 employees? They do to Ex-Im.

But the lion’s share of Ex-Im’s financing goes to businesses that are above even those elevated thresholds.

The second claim, that Ex-Im creates jobs, is even less plausible. By its nature, Ex-Im helps only existing businesses, and it does so by offering a select few financing at below-market interest rates. Thus, it bestows an uncompetitive advantage on the few relative to all potential new businesses. New businesses account for all net new jobs in the economy, in good times and bad. By helping the old at the expense of the new–and adding an unnecessary distortion to the market–it is more likely that Ex-Im lowers employment than raises it.

EPA.  The White House is trying to get Democrats not already on board to support their new EPA rule (sub. req’d):

The White House, for starters, is trying to shore up its alliances within the Democratic Party.

John Podesta, a senior adviser to the president and the White House’s point man on the carbon rule, stopped by the Capitol yesterday — with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in tow — to discuss the proposed regulation with Senate Democrats during their weekly caucus luncheon.

“I was just explaining the process that led to the development of the rule and the substance of the rule, why it’s necessary — to produce public health benefits for the American people as well as attacking the very real problem of climate change — and what we’re going to do to back up and support it and fend off the misrepresentations,” Podesta told reporters upon emerging from the meeting.

They’re courting Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) 22%, who They may have a difficult time attracting vulnerable Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) “who are looking for political cover from the “war on coal” rhetoric.”

DOC FIX.  A permanent ‘doc fix’ is not expected until the lame-duck session (sub. req’d):

The effort to find a permanent fix for Medicare’s physician payment formula resurfaced at a Senate confirmation hearing last month, but prospects for achieving Finance Chairman Ron Wyden’s goal of replacing the formula this year remain murky.

Wyden, D-Ore., said in an interview that more senators are warming to his proposal to tap money saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for a permanent repeal and replacement of the sustainable growth rate formula. Congress passed a one-year “doc fix” (PL 113-93) to prevent cuts to Medicare doctors in late March after reaching a compromise on the replacement policy but not on a way to pay for it.

Wyden said several conservatives have said they’re interested in permanently barring the use of Overseas Contingency Operations funds and removing the SGR while coming up with an additional offset to pay for extensions of several Medicare and Medicaid payment policies.

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