Legislative Update for Week Ending May 17, 2013

Legislative Update for Week Ending May 17, 2013

This week, The Senior Citizens League’s (TSCL’s) Board of Trustees traveled to Capitol Hill to host a Welcome Reception and to meet with several lawmakers and their top aides. In addition, Members of the Senate overwhelmingly voted to confirm Marilyn Tavenner as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and three key bills gained critical support.

TSCL’s Board of Trustees on Capitol Hill

This week, TSCL’s Board of Trustees traveled to Washington, D.C. for their second meeting of 2013. TSCL’s Board of Trustees includes the following members: Larry Hyland, Chairman; Tom O’Connell, Vice-Chairman; Charlie Flowers, Secretary; Edward Cates, Treasurer (Mr. Cates could not be in attendance at this meeting); Michael Gales, PAC Treasurer; and Richard Delaney, President of TREA: The Enlisted Association.

On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees hosted a successful breakfast reception for all Members of the 113th Congress and their staff, along with Shannon Benton (Executive Director), former Congressman David Funderburk and Mrs. Betty Funderburk (Legislative Consultants), and TSCL’s staff. More than 125 Members of Congress and/or staff were in attendance, and we were pleased to have the chance to speak with them about the issues that matter most to TSCL’s members and supporters. We especially want to thank Rep. Nick Rahall (WV-3), who has been a regular attendee at TSCL’s receptions.

Following the reception, the Board of Trustees and TSCL’s legislative team spent the afternoon meeting with six Members of Congress and their top aides. Support was expressed for a number of key bills, including the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, the Notch Fairness Act, and the Social Security Fairness Act, among others.

TSCL would like to thank the following for taking time out of their busy schedules to discuss issues of critical importance to seniors:  Rep. Bill Posey (FL-8), Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2), Rep. Mike Coffman (CO-6), Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), Cathy Hurwit (Chief of Staff for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)), Lauren Lattany (Legislative Assistant (LA) to Rep. David Scott (GA-13)), and J.R. Sanchez (LA to Sen. Rubio).

CMS Leader Confirmed by Senate

On Wednesday, Marilyn Tavenner, acting Administrator of CMS since 2011, was confirmed by the Senate with an overwhelming vote of ninety-one to seven. She is the first CMS Administrator to be confirmed by the legislative body in over nine years, but her confirmation did not come easily. Earlier this year, two Senators placed holds on her confirmation, delaying the process significantly.

This week, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spoke favorably about Tavenner on the Senate floor. Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT), the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, urged his colleagues to vote for her, stating: “She’s dedicated. She has the ability, and I believe that she will do a great job.” In addition, Sen. Tim Kaine (VA), who served as Tavenner’s boss as the former Governor of Virginia, spoke highly of her cost-cutting skills. He said, “There was no one in my cabinet that was more creative and passionate about achieving savings without sacrificing patient care.”

The confirmation of Marilyn Tavenner marks a major milestone for CMS, and like those Senators who voted in her favor, TSCL is hopeful that her leadership will provide the Medicare program with increased stability.

Key Bills Gain Support

This week, one new cosponsor – Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17) – signed on to Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (OR-4) No Loopholes in Social Security Taxes Act (H.R. 1029). The cosponsor total is now up to twenty-seven. If signed into law, Rep. DeFazio’s bill would subject all income over $250,000 to the Social Security payroll tax. Currently, the payroll tax is capped at $113,700 and no income over that amount is taxed. H.R. 1029 would reportedly add another fifty years to the solvency of the Trust Fund in a responsible way, without reducing benefits for seniors.

Also this week, seventeen new cosponsors signed on to Rep. Rodney Davis’s (IL-13) Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1795), bringing the total up to thirty-eight. In addition, one new cosponsor signed on to Sen. Mark Begich’s (AK) Social Security Fairness Act (S. 896) in the Senate, bringing the total to four. Both bills, if signed into law, would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) – two provisions that unfairly reduce the earned Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, firefighters, peace officers, and other state or local government employees each year. TSCL firmly believes that the GPO and the WEP should be repealed immediately so that dedicated public servants receive the retirement security they deserve. H.R. 1795 and S. 896 would do just that, and we were pleased to see eighteen new cosponsors announce their support this week.

The new cosponsors are: Sen. Jack Reed (RI), Reps. Mark Takano (CA-41), James Langevin (RI-2), Ed Whitfield (KY-1), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), William Keating (MA-9), Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Sam Farr (CA-20), Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), John Larson (CT-1), Billy Long (MO-7), Michael Honda (CA-17), David Price (NC-4), Daniel Lipinski (IL-3), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), and Ed Royce (CA-39).