Well, they finally reached a deal – HAPPY HAPPY???
Hours ago, the Senate hastily produced a bill that was written behind closed doors. The Senators already approved it via roll call vote without having had much time to analyze the bill’s contents. There have already been several versions made public, so the following are some bullets for your information from what I think is the most recent bill (though never underestimate the possibility of last minute shenanigans). Please keep in mind that these are my tentative conclusions after reading the bill one time and with no opportunity to discuss or analyze with colleagues.
Section 123 appears to contain a $2.9 billion earmark for a dam project in Kentucky. The House has a ban on earmarks but apparently this was slipped in at the last minute by the Senate and will be voted on by the House later tonight.
- Section 139(b) appears to rescind authority for the creation of the Dwight Eisenhower Memorial. Ike deserves a memorial, but the design offered by the gentleman picked to design the memorial was so atrocious that it upset many Americans, including the Eisenhower family. Hopefully this means we will get a memorial design that does justice to a great American President and war hero.
- Section 146 provides a tax-free payment of $174,000 to the widow of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), whose net worth has been estimated at $56 million. This is supposedly a perk that has been done for the families of senators since the 1930s, but this seems outmoded to me and should be discontinued, especially considering how the high levels of wealth possessed by US Senators.
- Section 1001 provides a provision on “income verification” for subsidies on ObamaCare exchanges. This is already required by law, but the Obama administration has suspended some of the law’s requirements and has essentially allowed some Americans to receive subsidies based on the “honor system.” Although this was much discussed by the Beltway press, it is a typical Washington smoke-and-mirrors provision: there is no enforcement mechanism and just a requirement that the Secretary of HHS submit a report, which is toothless. The invitation to fraud remains.
- Section 1002 creates a new mechanism (effective through February of 2014) for increasing the debt ceiling: the President is given the authority to add new debt unless Congress disapproves by a 2/3rds majority. This is a change from how it has typically worked and seems to confer more authority onto the President with respect to borrowing on the credit of the United States, a core power of Congress under Article I, Section 8.
Hat tip, Jason W. Hoyt for providing Congressman Ron DeSantis’ comments.