Lawmakers continued working on an omnibus spending bill this week to fund the federal government past December 11th. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw support grow for one key bill that would give Social Security beneficiaries a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) next year.
Omnibus Work Continues in Congress
This week, appropriators in the House and Senate continued their work on the $1.1 trillion omnibus to fund the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year. Lawmakers have just one week to finalize the deal in order to avoid a government shutdown like the one that occurred in 2013.
Last week, most seemed doubtful that Members of Congress would successfully reach an agreement before the looming deadline due to demands from some lawmakers to attach hundreds of controversial policy riders to the package. However, this week, many are reporting that appropriators have narrowed down the list of policy riders to a more manageable number, and leaders in Congress seem surprisingly optimistic about the prospects of the massive omnibus.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) told reporters this week: “Seriously, I feel good about the omnibus, I think we make progress every day. We started with about 250 riders, our new buzzword for earmarks, and now we’re down to as I understand it – I haven’t seen it – about 100.”
House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (KY-5) has said he hopes to wrap up negotiations on policy riders by the end of Friday, so that a final version can be brought to the House floor early next week. He said, “My goal is Monday to be able to file the bill, to start the clock.”
In the coming days, TSCL will be keeping a very close eye on the movement of the omnibus spending bill. If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement before the December 11th deadline, the federal government will shut down once again, potentially impacting the timeliness of Social Security checks and reimbursements to doctors who treat Medicare patients.
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Key Bill Gains Critical Support
This week, two new cosponsors – Reps. David Cicilline (RI-1) and Steve Cohen (TN-9) – signed on to the SAVE Benefits Act (H.R. 4012), which was recently introduced by Rep. Alan Grayson (FL-9) in the House. If signed into law, the bill would give Social Security beneficiaries a 3.9 percent COLA next year instead of the zero COLA they are expected to receive. It would cover the cost of the emergency COLA and extend the solvency of the Trust Funds by closing a loophole that allows corporations to deduct bonuses for CEOs from their taxes.
TSCL supports H.R. 4012 enthusiastically, and we were pleased to see two new cosponsors sign on to it this week. We will be advocating for the passage of H.R. 4012 and S. 2251 – Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (MA) companion bill – tirelessly in the coming months because we know that a 3.9 percent COLA would provide much-needed relief to our members and supporters next year.