Morning Action: Budget Debate Begins in Both Chambers
BUDGET. The President’s FY 2015 budget is being called his “$56 billion wish list” (sub. req’d). Debate on the budget begins now in the House and Senate:
OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell appears before the Senate and House Budget committees today to defend Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget, and the president’s $56 billion wish list will likely be a lively topic of discussion. That money exceeds the spending limits set by the omnibus spending bill (PL 113-67) enacted last year and quickly drew rebukes from Republicans, including House Speaker John A. Boehner and House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) N/A%, who called Obama’s proposal “a campaign brochure.”
But Senate Budget Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 7%, remained “hopeful” that Republicans would warm to Obama’s plans, which would pay for such things as expanded child care and preschool grants, biomedical research grants at the National Institutes of Health and the next-generation air traffic system.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, meanwhile, appears before Senate Finance this morning to argue for Obama’s proposed tax changes. He also may field questions about the administration’s plan to offer Ukraine $1 billion in loan guarantees to prop up its economy during its conflict with Russia.
FLOOD INSURANCE. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) 83% expressed the need to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Unfortunately, the House passed a bill delaying reforms made by the 2012 Biggert-Waters reform act:
OBAMACARE. Today the House votes on a bill to suspend the individual mandate penalty under Obamacare, and the administration has threatened to veto it. (sub.. req’d)
IMMIGRATION. The federal government refuses to enforce immigration law on the Southwest border, which is directly attributable to President Obama’s unwillingness to enforce existing immigration law and a sign he will not enforce any new immigration law:
The Arizona Daily Star reports that less than half the people picked up by an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer and suspected to be in the country illegally are taken into custody by federal immigration officials or jailed. Despite the best efforts of state and local law enforcement officials to enforce U.S. immigration laws, the federal government is ultimately in charge, and it has little interest in enforcing the law.
Under President Obama, federal immigration agencies are hamstrung, permitted toenforce only certain laws on certain people in certain conditions. When local police have faithfully performed their duties and identified potentially unlawful immigrants, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are in many cases able to take custody of only the most dangerous criminal aliens.
RUSSIA. Congress is pushing sanctions on Russia despite European hesitation (sub. req’d):
Republicans and Democrats rallied Tuesday behind the Obama administration’s proposed $1 billion loan guarantee package for Ukraine as they prepared to draft a tough set of sanctions to punish Russia for its military occupation of Ukraine’s strategic Crimean Peninsula.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from both parties also said they would soon be drawing up a set of economic sanctions that would target not only Russian individuals responsible for the military intervention, but also Russian banks, bilateral trade and Moscow’s membership in international forums like the G-8 and G-20 groups of industrialized countries.