Legislative Update For Week Ending February 3, 2012

Legislative Update For Week Ending February 3, 2012

This week, five new cosponsors signed on to Senator John Kerry’s (MA) Social Security Fairness Act, and the House-Senate Conference Committee met for a third time.

Five Senators Sign on to Key Bill

Senators Jack Reed (RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Maria Cantwell (WA), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Tim Johnson (SD) signed on to the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 2010) this week, bringing the cosponsor total up to seven.

If signed into law, the Social Security Fairness Act would repeal the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and the government pension offset (GPO), which have long prevented certain civil servants from receiving the full Social Security benefits they have earned. TSCL believes these two provisions should be repealed, and we were pleased to see support grow for the Social Security Fairness Act this week.

Conference Committee Meets for Third Round of Negotiations

The House-Senate Conference Committee continued negotiations this week on the Social Security payroll tax cut, Medicare payments to doctors, and long-term unemployment aid. Both parties have already agreed to extend the three for the remainder of the year, however, the Conferees must now decide how they will pay for the costly measures.

Members of the House already laid out a plan to pay for a year-long extension in a bill they approved in December. Among other things, the bill included a pay freeze for federal workers and higher premiums for wealthier Medicare recipients. The Senate has called their plan a “nonstarter.”

The 20-member Conference Committee aims to reach a deal before the upcoming recess, which is scheduled to begin on February 17, but the measures do not officially expire until February 29. Next week, the Conferees plan to meet three times to negotiate. TSCL will continue to monitor this debate.