Legislative Update for Week Ending March 11, 2016

Legislative Update for Week Ending March 11, 2016

This week, lawmakers in the House returned to their home states and districts for a week-long recess, but budget talks continued in both chambers of Congress. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw support grow for one key bill.

Budget Talks Continue Despite Recess

This week, lawmakers in the House adjourned for a week-long recess, but leaders on the Budget Committee continued working on a FY2017 spending resolution. Rep. Tom Price (GA-6) – the committee’s chairman – presented a proposal to his party last week, but many members of the conservative Freedom Caucus said they would not support it unless it included more significant cuts.

Rep. Mark Meadows (NC-11), one of the caucus’s forty members, told reporters, “The proposal that was laid before many of us last week did not get the ball far enough down the field.” He said the plan would win more support if leaders “offset the higher number with some significant financial reform that needs to take place on the mandatory side of spending, whether it be with welfare reform or saving Medicare.”

Rep. Price has reportedly been tweaking the proposal this week in an attempt to build support among the chamber’s most conservative members, including six who sit on the House Budget Committee. He told reporters he hopes to begin the markup process as soon as next week, once lawmakers are back on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Budget Committee has no plans to take up a budget resolution. Instead, lawmakers there will move forward with the appropriations process under the spending levels that were agreed to in negotiations last fall. Sen. Mike Enzi (WY) – Budget Committee Chairman – said in a statement: “The Senate already has top-line numbers and budget enforcement features available this year so that a regular order appropriations process can move forward while we continue to discuss broader budget challenges.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, “I think we’re going to have a pretty successful appropriations process.” He said the Appropriations Committee would likely begin considering bills in the middle of next month.

In the meantime, TSCL will continue to monitor the budget negotiations closely, since they will impact the funding of the Social Security and Medicare programs. If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement, the federal government could face another shutdown on October 1st, just before the November elections. For updates on the discussions, visit the Legislative News section of our website, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Key Bill Gains Cosponsor

One new cosponsor – Rep. Don Young (AK) – signed on to Rep. Grace Meng’s (NY-6) Notch Fairness Act (H.R. 314) this week, bringing the total up to thirteen. If signed into law, the Notch Fairness Act would provide a modest $5,000 settlement payment to those affected by the Social Security Notch. For decades, those born between the years 1917 and 1926 have been receiving lower Social Security benefits than those born before and after them due to the amendments to the benefit formula that were signed into law in 1977.

The problem has grown and compounded over time, and TSCL believes that some compensation for the injustice should be provided. We enthusiastically support Rep. Meng’s Notch Fairness Act, and we were pleased to see support grow for it this week. In the months ahead, we will continue to advocate for it on Capitol Hill.