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Daily Policy Note for August 1, 2014

RPC News

July 2014 Unemployment Report: The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 6.2percent for July 2014, an increase of 0.1 percentage point. It reported an increase of 209,000 nonfarm jobs over last month. Economists surveyed anticipated job growth of 230,000. Employment for June was revised up from 288,000 to 298,000 jobs created, and May was revised up from 224,000 to 229,000.  

GOP Committee News

Finance: GOP Oversight Leaders Demand Answers on CMS Contracts for Republican oversight leaders today sent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner a letter asking a number of questions regarding the handling of CMS’s contracts.  The letter comes after the GAO issued a report yesterday detailing CMS’s ineffective oversight in managing contracts, resulting in massive and unnecessary cost overruns.  The letter was signed by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee; Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former Finance Committee Chairman; Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Ranking Member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Representative Dave Camp (R-Michigan), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

HELP: Alexander Statement on GAO Report Detailing Administration’s Obamacare Website Failures: “It would be difficult to find a greater litany of mistakes and general carelessness than is contained in this nonpartisan report on the Obamacare rollout. Americans deserve to hear from the president how millions of their tax dollars were so mismanaged by his administration.”

Homeland Security: CMS’ Mismanagement of HealthCare.Gov Contracts Led to Millions Wasted in Failed HealthCare.Gov Roll Out, New GAO Report Shows: The federal government systematically mismanaged the contracts to develop the website leading to last year’s disastrous roll-out while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office

Today’s Headlines

Politico: Senate clears highways, transit patch, punting the issue until May: The nation’s highway and mass transit programs can breathe easy for another 10 months after Senate Democrats relented Thursday and cleared a GOP-crafted $11 billion extension they had overwhelmingly rejected two days ago.

Politico: Senate sends VA reform bill to Obama: The Senate on Thursday approved legislation overhauling the scandalized Department of Veterans Affairs, 91-3, sending the package to President Barack Obama. The vote comes nearly four months after revelations surfaced of mismanagement and corruption at the agency. An inspector general report found that VA facilities across the country were manipulating wait times to hide the long delays veterans faced when trying to see doctors.

Second Opinion

CNBC: Supreme Court could hear Obamacare subsidy feud: Let's get ready to rumble. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday was asked to hear a case that is considered perhaps the single biggest current threat to Obamacare.

Investor’s Business Daily: California Premiums Show Cost Of Affordable Care Act: bamaCare was supposed to make the health care system more efficient and less costly. Thus the "affordable" in the law's official title. But this week brings fresh evidence that it's producing the opposite.

New Polling Numbers

The Hill: Poll: Negative views of O-Care at highest: Negative views of ObamaCare abruptly hit an all-time high this month, erasing six months of gradual increases in the law's popularity. Fifty-three percent now see the Affordable Care Act in a negative light compared with 45 percent last month, according to a monthly tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Hill: Poll: Most disapprove of Obama foreign relations: Fifty-five percent of people disapprove of President Obama's handling of U.S relationships with other countries, according to a new poll.  The Associated Press-GFK poll released Friday found only 43 percent of people approve of his management of relationships around the world. That number has slid 6 points since January and mirrors his overall approval rating of 40 percent.

Economic News

Forbes: Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Adds 209,000 Jobs In July, Unemployment Ticks Up To 6.2%: The economic recovery keeps marching on, slowly but surely. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest jobs report on Friday morning, and it showed continued improvement — with 209,000 non-farm jobs added. That means that for the first time since 1997, the economy has added 200,000 or more jobs in six straight months.

Red Tape Review

Wall Street Journal: EPA Emissions Plan Draws Protest in Pittsburgh: Several thousand unionized coal miners, electrical workers and others filled this city's downtown on Thursday to protest the Obama administration's proposed rule to curb carbon emissions from the nation's power plants, ahead of two days of hearings on the issue in the city.


‏@RoyBlunt: Senate passage of bipartisan #VA bill is big step in right direction to give our #veterans quality care they deserve

@SenatorWicker: The #VAreform bill will provide a wide array of new tools to help care for our nation's heroes:  #veterans

@SenJohnMcCain: Proud that Senate passed VA reform legislation tonight 91-3, now headed to President for signature. Full stmt: …

Floor Schedule for Friday August 1, 2014

Today, the Senate is in session.

The Senate will convene at 11:00 a.m., following the Leaders’ remarks, the Senate will be in Morning Business until 2:00 p.m., with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each.

There will be no roll call VOTES on Friday.  The next VOTE will occur on Monday, September 8 at 5:30 p.m. on confirmation of Executive Calendar #848, Jill A. Pryor, of Georgia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit.

Key House Action

Today, the House is in session.

Statement by House GOP Leaders on Border Bill: “This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws.  There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.  For the past month, the House has been engaged in intensive efforts to pass legislation that would compel the president to do his job and ensure it can be done as quickly and compassionately as possible.  Through an inclusive process, a border bill was built by listening to members and the American people that has the support not just of a majority of the majority in the House, but most of the House Republican Conference.  We will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country.”

Roll Call: Cantor to Resign From Congress: Rep. Eric Cantor will resign from Congress effective Aug. 18, he said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch posted at midnight. The Virginia Republican, newly deposed as House majority leader after losing his primary to Dave Brat, said he has asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election on Nov. 4, ensuring that the district will be represented in the lame duck.