Morning Action: The Unanswered Immigration Question on Young Illegal Immigrants
BUDGET. CQ has the latest on appropriations skirmishes between the administration and Congress and between Republicans and Democrats, and among the most contentious is how to deal with the humanitarian issue of young illegal immigrants (sub. req’d):
Here are five disputes that have recently blossomed, each of which has the potential to complicate this year’s budget debate until its closing days.
Young migrants. It took only a few minutes of discussion before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee agreed last week to freeze the combined budgets for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. But the most expensive domestic spending bill would starve several other areas in order to nearly double funding, to $1.9 billion, for medical care for the unaccompanied child migrants who have been surging across the Mexican border in record numbers.
The money will be a proxy war for the stalled debate over an immigration policy overhaul. Democrats will hold fast to the increase, describing it as the only humane way to respond to the needs of thousands of innocent victims of congressional gridlock. Republicans will try to pare it back, arguing the spending will only exacerbate administration immigration policies that are enticing parents to send their kids into the United States alone and illegally.
The other areas of debate are school food, TIGER money, safe trucking, and medical marijuana.
HIGHER ED. The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke explains why Elizabeth Warren is wrong about big government’s effect on the cost of higher education:
Enter Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 23%. The Massachusetts Democrat is proposing that the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program be expanded to refinance both public and private student loans. The feds would pay off private lenders and issue low-interest government loans to take their place.
It sounds appealing. Yet the policy is problematic for private lenders, students and taxpayers — the ones who foot the bill for all this federal largesse.
Private lenders must already compete with artificially low (i.e., taxpayer-subsidized) interest rates on federal loans. And as Jordan Weissmann noted in Slate: “Since pre-payments equal a loss to the [private] lender, Washington would essentially be seizing their profits.”
ANTI-CONSCIENCE MANDATE. The Heritage Foundation’s Elizabeth Slattery has the latest on Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate, explaining a U.S. Court of Appeals says being complicit in sin isn’t a sin:
Last week, in Michigan Catholic Conference v. Burwell, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the appeal of Catholic nonprofit groups in their challenge to the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate. The court got it wrong by second-guessing the religious beliefs of these groups.
Formal houses of worship and their integrated auxiliaries (e.g., church-run soup kitchens) are exempt from this mandate—which requires employers to pay for employee health insurance coverage that includes contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs—and other nonprofit religious employers are eligible for an “accommodation.” Under the accommodation, employers must self-certify to a third-party administrator that they have a religious objection to providing or paying for certain drugs and devices, and this initiates the process of the third-party administrator providing the mandated coverage to their employees.
MEDICAID. Virginia lawmakers have blocked the Medicaid expansion in their state for now, though the governor vows the fight is far from over:
After months of grueling debate and discord over expanding Medicaid in Virginia, Republicans got their way.
The GOP-led House and Senate approved a budget that not only lacks funding to expand Medicaid but also requires General Assembly approval in the future—an attempt to block Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe from implementing the Affordable Care Act component through an executive order.
McAuliffe, who must sign any budget for it to take effect, vows he isn’t giving up, saying he will “take the actions [he deems] necessary, but this fight is far from over.”