This week, the Senate will vote on the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014 (S.2149) sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Dean HellerSenate Republican Average71% and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Jack ReedSenate Democrat Average2%. The bill would extend emergency unemployment insurance benefits for five months and would provide retroactive payments to those who would have received benefits after the program expired in December. This bill would encourage prolonged unemployment for many Americans and would be paid for using accounting gimmicks that would pose unnecessary risks to taxpayers.
This week the Senate will consider the Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014 (S.2124), which also contains controversial and long-stalled “reforms” to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF is unrelated to Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and subsequent takeover of Crimea.
Any attempt to conflate the two issues is politically motivated; indeed, the Obama Administration is misleading the American people to make these so-called reforms appear urgent. Alarmingly, the proposed “reforms” are not even in America’s best interest because they would reduce the power of the United States. In fact, the Heritage Foundation points out “the reform package would also increase Russia’s power at the IMF at the very time when the U.S. is seeking to punish Russia for its act of war and aggression in Crimea.”
This week the Senate will vote on the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 (S. 1982) sponsored by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Bernard SandersSenate Independent Average5%. Allegedly designed to extend and expand health care programs for veterans as well as job-assistance and education benefits, this multibillion dollar bill fails to make necessary reforms to the Veterans Affairs system that is already overburdened and flawed, harming both veterans truly in need of assistance and taxpayers in the process.
Today the Senate will vote on the so-called Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act (S. 540), which would suspend the nation’s debt ceiling until March 15, 2015. During that time, President Obama and Congress will have a blank check to spend and borrow. This is extremely reckless given our nation’s $17.3 trillion debt. Every American household already owes more than $140,000 on the debt.
The Heritage Foundation explains the act “renders the debt limit inoperative,” which matters “because when Congress fails to limit the debt it effectively abdicates its Constitutional power to control borrowing.”
This week, the Senate will vote on the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R.2642), commonly referred to as the Farm Bill but more accurately described as the Food Stamp and Farm Bill. Despite claims of reform, the bill continues to spend nearly $1 trillion on a variety of programs, including significant taxpayers subsidies to agribusiness, green energy handouts, conservation programs and of course the massive food stamp program.
Once again, about 80 percent of the bill’s spending goes towards the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. There are now nearly 48 million individuals on food stamps, compared with nearly 31 million in 2008 and 17 million in 2000. Even after the dramatic loosening of eligibility standards contributed to one in seven Americans now collecting food stamps, the conference report contains minuscule reforms. All told the proposal is expected to save just one percent. That is below the 5-percent cut passed by the House last September and well below the 17-percent reduction outlined in the House-passed budget.