Members of Congress reached a last-minute deal to avert the Fiscal Cliff on Tuesday, temporarily preventing a combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts from going into effect. In addition, Thursday, January 3rd marked the first day of the 113th Congress.
Lawmakers Reach Deal to Avert Fiscal Cliff
In a rare holiday session, Members of the House and Senate voted to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act in order to avert the Fiscal Cliff. With votes of 89-8 in the Senate and 257-167 in the House, the bill was approved in the first hours of the New Year, and it was signed into law by the President on Wednesday. The measure permanently extends the Bush-era tax rates for individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making less than $450,000, and it allows rates to increase for those making more. The law also temporarily prevents a 27 percent pay cut for physicians who treat Medicare patients, and it includes a two-month postponement of the automatic spending cuts that were scheduled to take effect on January 1st.
The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) is relieved that Members of Congress were able to avert the Fiscal Cliff and provide a “doc fix” without enacting harsh benefit cuts. However, topics like “chaining” the Social Security COLA and increasing means testing measures within Medicare will likely resurface next month, when Congress will be required to raise the debt ceiling address the spending cuts once again. In the meantime, TSCL will continue to inform Members of Congress about the consequences of cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, and we will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website.
New Congress Convenes
On Thursday, more than ninety new lawmakers were sworn into office and members of the 113th Congress assembled for the first time. The House of Representatives gained eighty-two new lawmakers – forty-seven Democrats and thirty-five Republicans – and the Senate gained twelve newly elected lawmakers – eight Democrats, three Republicans, and one Independent.
As with the start of any new Congress, TSCL is encouraging Senators and Representatives to reintroduce and cosponsor key legislation, like the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, the Notch Fairness Act, the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act, and the Social Security Fairness Act. TSCL’s legislative agenda for the next two years includes the following issues, among others:
- Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment – Ensuring a fair, accurate, and guaranteed COLA.
- Social Security Notch Reform – Working towards benefit equality for older Americans.
- Social Security Totalization Agreement with Mexico – Preventing an unnecessary and unspecified drain on the Social Security Trust Fund.
- Protection of the Social Security Trust Fund – Ensuring that the program’s assets are locked out of the general budget.
- Prevention of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse – Eliminating inefficiencies within Social Security and Medicare.
- Prescription Drug Re-Importation – Making safe, secure re-importation a reality.
- Social Security Reform – Extending the program’s solvency without enacting harmful cuts.
- Medicare Reform – Protecting seniors from sudden and harsh changes to the program.
TSCL’s all-volunteer Board of Trustees and legislative team – including former Congressman David Funderburk and Mrs. Betty Funderburk – look forward to working with both new and veteran lawmakers in the 113th Congress. For more information about our legislative agenda, click HERE.