Morning Action: Obama Champions Amnesty Bill, Attempts to Bypass Public Opposition
AMNESTY. President Obama is championing amnesty legislation with the head of American Legion, in an effort to “bypass public opposition to passage of a massive business-backed immigration increase”:
The American Legion is suddenly a player in the immigration fight because it has come out in opposition to a minor, but critical amendment to the draft 2015 defense bill. The amendment would broaden the existing rules allowing illegal immigrants to get slots in the U.S. military that are sought by American volunteers.
If the amendment is added to the bill, and then passed by the full House, it would allow the Senate and House to include a large immigration rewrite in the must-pass defense bill.
That immigration rewrite could consist of a small amnesty for younger illegals, or a copy of the Senate’s June 2013 bill, which would triple the inflow of legal immigrants and guest-workers to 40 million over the next decade. That huge inflow is roughly equal to the number of Americans youths who will join the workforce by 2024 in search of decent jobs.
The amendment maneuver would allow top GOP leaders to push an immigration bill past their caucus.
OBAMACARE. While President Obama touts Obamacare enrollment numbers, federal courts may soon rule that the money spent on subsides for Obamacare plans in the 34 federally run exchanges account for unauthorized spending — which means that a “majority of exchange enrollees would suddenly face the full cost of Obamacare coverage, and enrollments would plummet.”
The eligibility rules for the PPACA’s Exchange subsidies specify nine times, without deviation, that recipients must enroll “through an Exchange established by the State.” House Democrats even complained about this part of the Senate-passed PPACA before they themselves approved it, so they knew exactly what they were sending to the president’s desk.
Confounding supporters’ expectations, 34 states declined to establish Exchanges. Under the plain terms of federal law, subsidies are therefore available in the 16 Exchanges established by states, and not available in the 34 Exchanges established by the federal government.
In 2011, however, the Obama administration unilaterally announced it would force taxpayers to subsidize insurance purchased through federal Exchanges as well. It cited no statutory authority for its decision, and has stubbornly refused to follow its own law despite immediate and sustained criticism.
UKRAINE. Lawmakers are decrying threats against Jews in Ukraine as peace talks continue (sub. req’d):
As Secretary of State John Kerry announced a tentative agreement with Russia Thursday to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, several lawmakers focused their attention on recent threats against that country’s Jewish population.
According to Ukrainian and western news reports, fliers were distributed earlier this week in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk calling on Jews to register with pro-Russian separatists and pay special taxes.
“This is an unacceptable escalation of the crisis in Ukraine and cause for both grave concern and immediate action,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) 14%, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said in a statement.
“The reports coming out of Ukraine about anti-Semitic flyers that make chilling demands of the local Jewish community are deeply disturbing,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) 17%, said in a statement. “Throughout history, forced government registration of Jews and the counting of Jewish assets have led to some of the most atrocious acts in human history. If this attack is being used for political purposes, that is a particularly manipulative and callous act in a country where the Jewish community has already been subject to a rise in anti-Semitism.”
MINIMUM WAGE HIKE. A Senate bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over three years would increase the deficit due to an extension of a tax provision, according to a Congressional Budget Office report (sub. req’d):
The bill (S 2223) is due to face a cloture vote when Congress returns from a two-week recess the week of April 28, but Democrats are not optimistic it would survive a Republican filibuster.
CBO found that extending the tax provisions in the bill would reduce revenue by about $5 billion over 10 years. Those provisions would extend for another three years a $500,000 cap for small businesses to expense their investments, thereby reducing their tax bill. It would also extend similar expensing allowances for computer software and some real property. Those provisions expired earlier this year.
The report also found a higher minimum wage would cost the government $2 million over 10 years, mostly from pay increases it would have to give to the 4,000 government employees who make less than $10.10 an hour.
Importantly, the Heritage Foundation explains the bill would kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.
DEFENSE. Defense lobbyists are increasing efforts to protect budget proposals (sub. req’d):
Defense lobbyists will ramp up their efforts on Capitol Hill beginning later this month as defense authorizers and appropriators mark up their respective bills.
Although there are efforts to undercut certain budget proposals, some senior congressional aides and lobbyists said lobbying is heavily focused on protecting spending proposals in the president’s fiscal 2015 budget submission.
In large part that’s because many of the biggest lobbying houses and major defense contractors are focusing more of their resources lobbying the military, particularly because spending caps (PL 112-25, PL 113-67) and earmarking controls limit what lawmakers and staff can do.