Morning Action: Senate Expected to Pass Unemployment Extension
UI. The Senate is poised to pass an extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits for five months:
The Senate is expected to easily approve legislation Monday restoring unemployment benefits to nearly three million people, throwing the bill to a divided House where Republicans favor starkly different approaches to the issue.
Six Senate Republicans joined all 55 Democrats last week to end debate on legislation that retroactively restores benefits cut off Dec. 28 and extends them through June 1, clearing the way for passage Monday.
Seven House Republicans from high-unemployment regions or swing districts plan to send the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, a letter coinciding with Senate passage to urge him to take up the Senate bill or a similar measure.
House leaders remain undecided about the matter. Read our key vote against the legislation here.
EX-IM BANK. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% explains Republicans can prove themselves as a the party that stands “against political corruption and economic dysfunction” by ending the U.S. Export-Import Bank:
For three years now, Republican leaders have challenged anti-establishment conservatives to come up with a viable plan to make principled conservatism inclusive and popular — to grow our party into a national majority.
Well, here it is.
The question is whether Republicans’ Obama-era opposition to policy privilege has been sincere or situational.
One test will be this summer’s expiring congressional authorization of the federal Export Import Bank. The Ex-Im Bank exists to dole out taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to help American exporters. Most of the benefits go to large corporations that are perfectly capable of securing private financing anywhere in the world.
OBAMACARE. The Heritage Foundation explains why liberals’ Obamacare “victory lap” last week was unjustified:
But he didn’t stop with insulting everyday Americans. Reid took a dig last week at Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), himself a doctor who is resigning from the Senate to continue cancer treatment.
Meanwhile, President Obama exulted in claiming that the “tall tales” about Obamacare “have been debunked.” Was he talking about Obamacare’s job-killing effects? Its limiting of patient choices? Its forcing all Americans into a one-size-fits-all health care model?
IRS. A new report from House Republicans provides more evidence of early targeting of the Tea Party by the Internal Revenue Service, identifying the first three cases sent to Washington for special review in 2010 (sub. req’d):
The report also underscores the difficulties the targeted groups faced. Two of the three dropped their applications in the face of IRS questioning, the report shows. A third is waiting for a resolution of its case, a spokesman said.
The GOP report, the latest salvo in a protracted political battle in Washington, is aimed at refuting Democrats’ argument that liberal groups also were targeted by the IRS over recent years. The report by aides to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, emphasizes that the targeting began as an IRS inquiry solely into tea-party groups. It also contends that subsequent efforts by IRS officials to make the review more neutral were little more than cosmetic changes, and the basic focus on conservative grassroots groups remained.
Although IRS documents showed the agency also was on the lookout for applications by some liberal-leaning groups, “only Tea Party applicants received systematic scrutiny because of their political beliefs,” the new report says. In addition, “public and nonpublic analyses of IRS data show that the IRS routinely approved liberal applications while holding and scrutinizing conservative applications.”
DEFENSE. The Pentagon released a list late Thursday breaking down each service’s requests for additional funds for training and personnel costs and facility and weapons modernization, and they are underfunded for those requests by $34 billion. Reports suggests Republican lawmakers will use this as evidence the President is intentionally underfunding the military (sub. req’d):
Frustrations with the budget boiled over in a hearing Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee, in which Rep. J. Forbes (R-VA) 75%, a senior member of the panel, questioned why, if the military strategy was unconstrained by available dollars, the president did not include a congressionally mandated 11th aircraft carrier in his budget submissions.
Unfunded priority lists were once the norm on Capitol Hill until former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ended the practice because it often was used by the services to subvert the priorities of the Defense secretary and the Office of Management and Budget.
But the fiscal 2013 defense policy bill (PL 112-239) directed the Pentagon to release the lists. Congress also mandated that the military commands also provide wish lists.