Legislative Update for Week Ending October 26, 2012

Legislative Update for Week Ending October 26, 2012

The Congressional recess continued this week and Members of Congress remained in their home states and districts to prepare for the November 6th election. Meanwhile, a number of Senators who are not up for re-election have been getting serious about their plans to avert the looming fiscal cliff.

Pre-Election Recess Continues

Members of Congress remained in their home states and districts this week to prepare for the election. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill to begin the lame-duck session on Tuesday, November 13th. The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) would like to remind you that many Members of Congress will attend local events, hold town hall meetings, or participate in debates in the next ten days, giving voters an excellent opportunity to voice their concerns. We encourage you to approach your Senators and Representatives to request their support for fair COLAs and other key issues. To find contact information for your Members of Congress or to sign a petition, visit the ACTION CENTER of our website.

Senators Focus on Preventing Fiscal Cliff

With the lame-duck session quickly approaching, a number of Senators are getting serious about their plans to forestall the so-called fiscal cliff, a combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that are set to take effect at the start of 2013. According to Congressional Quarterly, Senators on both sides of the aisle are “laboring to finish writing legislative language” before Congress returns to Capitol Hill.

The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” has been working diligently on a comprehensive package for months, and Senators Lamar Alexander (TN) and Michael Bennet (CO) recently announced their plan to form a separate detailed policy proposal together. Outside groups like the Bipartisan Policy Center have also been contributing to the conversation, proposing their own ideas for what a “grand bargain” should entail.

But ever since Monday’s third presidential debate, when President Barack Obama bluntly stated that the automatic spending cuts would not go into effect in January [clarified on Tuesday with the White House saying, “the President is confident Congress will take the appropriate action”], observers have been speculating that a stopgap measure to defer the cuts may be more likely. Senator John D. Rockefeller (WV) stated this week, “A punt is a good assumption, and it may be a wise thing.” One Senator, Chris Coons (DE), has begun to form a plan that would allow Congress to responsibly defer the cuts for six months by including $75 billion in deficit reduction as a “down payment.”

It remains unclear which route Members of Congress will decide to take two months from now, but one thing is clear:  they will have no shortage of options when they return to Capitol Hill in November. TSCL will keep a close eye on the evolving negotiations, and we will continue to post updates here in the legislative news section of our website.