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The Senate will soon consider H. J. Res. 124 – Continuing Appropriations Resolution. Read the RPC Legislative Notice.

Daily Policy Note for September 17, 2014

RPC News

Five Ways Obamacare Is Failing Families: To pass their health care law, the president and congressional Democrats promised to lower premiums, promised that people would be able to keep their insurance and doctor, and promised that the law would not increase Washington’s deficits. We now know that these promises to Americans were made just to pass the law, and all have been broken. Rather than deal with any of the law’s problems this Congress, Senate Democrats ignored all attempts at bipartisanship while Americans struggled with the law’s alarming side effects. Senate Republicans have offered solutions that replace the president’s health care law with real reform that reverses Obamacare’s damage, increases consumer choice, and lowers health care costs.


GOP Committee News

Armed Services: Inhofe Opening Statement at Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on U.S. Policy Towards Iraq and Syria and the Threat Posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL): U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today delivered the following opening statement at a SASC hearing entitled: "U.S. Policy Towards Iraq and Syria and the Threat Posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)." Witnesses include Secretary of Defense Charles "Chuck" T. Hagel, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Foreign Relations: Menendez, Corker Introduce Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014: Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, legislation that imposes broad sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy, and financial sectors, as well as increases military and non-military assistance for Ukraine.

HELP: Alexander Statement on GAO Report on Healthcare.gov Security Weaknesses: “The president and his administration launched Healthcare.gov knowing that the personal information of Americans who bought insurance through the website was not safe. Their personal information was not safe then, and it is not safe now.  Someone should be held accountable for this kind of gross mismanagement, and security must be fixed immediately before a major hacking attack does massive damage.”


Today’s Headlines

USA Today: Islamic State releases anti-Obama video: The Islamic State is taunting President Obama via video. The militant group released a brief video late Tuesday suggesting that jihadists would kill American ground troops should they be deployed against them.

Politico: Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell agree on continuing resolution, Syria: Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are on the same page: The Senate will pick up and pass the House’s government funding bill that authorizes arming of Syrian rebels, then head home for the election.

The Hill: Reid: Senate could look at inversions after election: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that the chamber could try to pass legislation curbing offshore corporate tax deals when lawmakers return after November’s election. With Congress currently gridlocked, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said President Obama will take executive action to limit the appeal of the deals, known as inversions.


Second Opinion

Wall Street Journal Opinion: ObamaCare and American Decline: The reports of Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are a clinic on how government is really run. The latest on ObamaCare is no exception.We see Chet Burrell, head of Maryland insurer CareFirst, emailing in alarm last April to White House aide Valerie Jarrett. The administration had just publicly stated its "risk corridor" plan would be revenue neutral—i.e., no extra taxpayer dollars would be available to cover insurer losses.


New Polling Numbers

New York Times: G.O.P. Gains Strength and Obama Gets Low Marks, Poll Finds: A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Obama’s approval ratings are similar to those of President George W. Bush in 2006 when Democrats swept both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.


Economic News                                                     

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Incomes End 6-Year Decline, Just Barely: Incomes in the U.S. ticked up in 2013 for the first time in six years, an increase that did little to repair the damage to American paychecks since the recession. The median annual household income—the level at which half are above and half below—rose 0.3% in 2013, or a total of $180, to an inflation-adjusted $51,939, the Census Bureau's latest snapshot of U.S. living standards showed Tuesday. The increase, which wasn't statistically significant, leaves incomes around 8% below their level of 2007, when the recession officially started.

Wall Street Journal: Things to Watch at Today’s Fed Meeting: The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day policy meeting Wednesday with a statement, new economic projections and Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s press conference. The global audience will be scouring it all for new clues about when the Fed is likely to start raising short-term interest rates from near zero. Many investors expect to see lift-off next summer, but will be watching for any signals that the central bank could move sooner. Here are five things to watch.


Red Tape Review

Las Vegas Review Journal: Reid moves to ensure Yucca Mountain stays dead: Amid action in Congress to intensify the fight against Islamic State militants, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found time Tuesday for an issue closer to home: ensuring that a nuclear waste dump in his home state of Nevada remains mothballed even after the government has spent $15 billion on it.

Wall Street Journal: EPA Extends Comment Period on Climate Rules: The Obama administration said Tuesday it is allowing more time for the public to weigh in on draft regulations controlling carbon emissions from hundreds of fossil-fuel power plants across the country after a majority of senators called for the extension.


Tweets

@SenRandPaul: On this day in 1787, the framers of our nation met & signed the U.S. Constitution. Re-read the #Constitution today: http://www.paul.senate.gov/?p=constitution

@ChuckGrassley: I celebrated my birthday w 6.21 mile-run I call the "Home to the Dome" run I do once yr otherwise just run 3miles a day


Floor Schedule for Wednesday September 17, 2014

Today, the Senate is in session.                      

The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m., following the Leaders’ remarks, the Senate will be in Morning Business until noon, with the time equally divided and Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each.

At noon, the Senate will conduct confirmation VOTES on the following (NOTE:  Only the first is expected to require a roll call):

  1. Executive Calendar #956, John R. Bass, of New York, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey;
  2. Executive Calendar #536, Eric T. Schultz, of Virginia, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia;
  3. Executive Calendar #548, Thomas Frederick Daughton, of Arizona, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Namibia;
  4. Executive Calendar #964, David Pressman, of New York, to be Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador;
  5. Executive Calendar #965, David Pressman, of New York, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations;
  6. Executive Calendar #871, Debra S. Wada, of Hawaii, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army;
  7. Executive Calendar #924, Laura S. Wertheimer, of the District of Columbia, to be Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; and
  8. Executive Calendar #912, Bradford Raymond Huther, of Virginia, to be Chief Financial Officer, Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Key House Action

Today, the House is in session.

Boehner Calls on Senate Dems to Do the Right Thing, Approve House-Passed Jobs Bills: At a press conference with Republican leaders today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged Senate Democrats to act on the dozens of House-passed jobs bills they’re blocking, including two more major bills to boost American energy and economic growth that will be on the House floor this week.