Policy Papers

November 5, 2019

The 2020 Census

KEY TAKEAWAYS The decennial census, first conducted in 1790, is taking place in 2020. The census is a count, as accurate as possible, of every person residing in the United States. It provides the basis for apportionment of Congressional seats, redistricting within states, and allocation of over $900 billion of federal funds. The census has been conducted every decade since 1790. Because a representative government must know how many people reside within its borders, and where they live, in... Continue Reading

November 5, 2019

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage

KEY TAKEAWAYS Medicare Part D began in 2006 as a voluntary benefit for people enrolled in Medicare, to help pay for their prescription drugs. Insurance companies that participate in the program submit bids to the federal government and compete with other plans to keep costs affordable and medicines accessible. Any policy reforms to ensure the program remains viable for future beneficiaries must maintain the free-market benefit structure, which has helped patients and encouraged pharmaceutical... Continue Reading

November 1, 2019

October 2019 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 3.6 percent Jobs Created: 128,000 Employment and Unemployment The Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 3.6% in October. Nonfarm jobs grew by 128,000 in October. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected 75,000 jobs. Job growth for August and September was stronger than originally reported. The department revised the job creation numbers up for those months by a combined 95,000 jobs.   The U-6... Continue Reading

October 31, 2019

Labor Department Rules Update

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Department of Labor’s regulatory reform efforts have sought to provide clarity and to overhaul burdensome rules imposed by the Obama administration. The department recently finalized one rule that makes an additional 1.3 million workers eligible for overtime pay and another rule to expand access to retirement plans. Other rules are in progress, including one to clarify situations in which two employers may be jointly liable for overtime pay and other wage requirements... Continue Reading

October 29, 2019

Major Decisions by Trump-Appointed Circuit Judges

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Senate has confirmed 43 of President Trump’s circuit court judge nominees, at more than twice President Obama’s pace. Trump appointees now fill almost one of every four circuit court judgeships and are having an impact on the country’s jurisprudence. These judges have authored major opinions in a wide variety of fields, ranging from environmental to criminal law. While the Supreme Court is the highest appeals court in the country, well over 99% of federal... Continue Reading

October 29, 2019

Democrats Try to Curb Health Care Coverage

KEY TAKEAWAYS Senate Democrats introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn President Trump’s guidance giving states more flexibility to offer affordable health insurance options. The guidance on waivers under section 1332 of Obamacare maintains protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allows states to experiment with coverage options tailored to their residents’ needs.  The Trump administration’s guidance rightfully prioritizes consumer... Continue Reading

October 24, 2019

Coming Soon: STELAR Reauthorization

KEY TAKEAWAYS Three key sections of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization – governing retransmission and other agreements between broadcasters and cable and satellite operators – are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The television-viewing landscape has changed dramatically in the five years since Congress last updated these laws. An estimated 119 million U.S. households – 93% of the country – watch television. Their experience... Continue Reading

October 23, 2019

Impeachment Due Process Failures

KEY TAKEAWAYS The House Democratic leadership’s impeachment inquiry has failed to live up to the neutral standards set by the impeachment inquiries of Presidents Clinton and Nixon. The vast majority of the elected officials of the U.S. government cannot see the evidence being gathered behind closed doors. The investigators have denied the president’s legal team basic due process, including the right to rebut one’s accusers, challenge the evidence produced, and understand the... Continue Reading

October 22, 2019

Post-Cloture Rules and Precedents

KEY TAKEAWAYS In addition to the 30-hour cap on consideration of legislation, cloture under Rule XXII triggers many lesser-known rules and precedents governing debate, the amendment process, and floor procedure. Knowledge of these rules is essential to avoiding mistakes on the floor and in formulating legislative strategy. Most of these rules and precedents can be found in Rule XXII, Riddick’s and the parliamentarian’s database of Senate precedents. Like most Senate rules, the... Continue Reading

October 17, 2019

RPC Interview: Federal CIO Suzette Kent

KEY TAKEAWAYS The federal CIO is responsible for coordinating government-wide information technology modernization efforts. The federal government is taking a multi-pronged approach to filling critical IT and cybersecurity jobs, including retention incentives and professional development opportunities. There are a number of opportunities for Congress and the administration to collaborate on modernizing federal IT. The federal government spent $96 billion dollars on information technology in... Continue Reading

October 16, 2019

The Pelosi Drug Plan: Negotiation in Name Only

KEY TAKEAWAYS House Democrats have introduced legislation to require the government to “negotiate” drug prices in Medicare and the private market. The government would levy exorbitant confiscatory taxes on drug manufacturers that do not take the price set by the government, meaning the “negotiation” is in name only. This approach would lead to less innovation of new treatments and cures by diminishing the incentive for drug makers to take the risks associated with... Continue Reading

October 15, 2019

An Update on Drone Policy

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Federal Aviation Administration expects the number of commercial drones to triple by 2023, given their many uses in industries such as agriculture, energy, and construction. Current rules limit how and where people can fly drones, though businesses and governments can apply for waivers.   The administration is working on several initiatives, including creating a system for managing increased drone traffic and amending the rules so drones can routinely fly under more... Continue Reading

October 4, 2019

September 2019 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 3.5 percent Jobs Created: 136,000 Employment and Unemployment The Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage point to 3.5% in September. Nonfarm jobs grew by 136,000 in September. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected 145,000 jobs. Combined job growth for July and August was stronger than originally reported. Labor revised the job creation numbers up for those months by a combined 45,000 jobs.   The U-6... Continue Reading

September 26, 2019

Fixing America's Bridges

KEY TAKEAWAYS Bridges, and the roads they connect, are considered the backbone of America’s vast transportation system. National bridge conditions have improved, though an estimated 47,054 bridges were considered to be in “poor condition” in 2018. Most bridges are owned by state and local entities; the federal government and private sector own only 2%. America’s network of bridges and roads are essential to the economy. In 2017, drivers logged 3.2 trillion miles, and... Continue Reading

September 24, 2019

Eugene Scalia: Secretary of Labor Nominee

KEY TAKEAWAYS Eugene Scalia is an experienced lawyer in the areas of labor, employment, and regulation. He has a distinguished record in the private sector and in public service. Mr. Scalia has been commended for his familiarity with labor laws, his intellect, and his demonstrated leadership qualities. The Labor Department needs a capable, skilled leader as it enforces laws to protect workers and supports programs to grow and strengthen the American workforce. Eugene Scalia has built a... Continue Reading

September 24, 2019

Nationwide Injunctions from District Courts

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Supreme Court recently reversed nationwide injunctions against new asylum rules and the use of nonemergency funding for the border wall. Federal district courts have already imposed almost twice as many nationwide injunctions against the Trump administration as against the Obama administration. According to legal historians, nationwide injunctions have become common only over the past decade. Partisan district court judges are increasingly issuing nationwide injunctions,... Continue Reading

September 19, 2019

Investing in Americans' Health at the NIH

KEY TAKEAWAYS Republicans have led a bipartisan congressional effort to make substantial investments in the National Institutes of Health to address the most expensive and life-threatening diseases. These investments can help relieve human suffering and potentially reduce future health care costs. The NIH will continue to play a key role in modernizing the health care system and customizing the treatments patients receive.  The National Institutes of Health is the government’s... Continue Reading

September 17, 2019

Border Security: Walls and Enforcement Work

KEY TAKEAWAYS Illegal border crossings in August, July, and June were down significantly from the record apprehensions earlier this year, though they are still at crisis levels. Enforcement from Mexico and new border walls contributed to the decline. Yuma, Arizona, saw an 85% drop in border crossings in August versus May after new wall construction. The Supreme Court reversed lower court stays against President Trump’s rule on asylum and his use of non-emergency military funding to build... Continue Reading

September 16, 2019

Is It Time to Update the Internet’s “Legal Cornerstone”?

KEY TAKEAWAYS The law provides broad immunity for online service providers, such as social media companies, for content their users post online. Congress has also protected the companies’ voluntary, good faith actions to limit material that is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.” Recently, some people have proposed altering the broad immunity that the law grants. The internet has democratized the spread of knowledge... Continue Reading

September 11, 2019

Economic Boom for Inland Waterways

KEY TAKEAWAYS Inland waterways and water resources infrastructure provide a crucial competitive advantage for American farmers and manufacturers. Businesses transported 608 million tons of goods on inland waterways in 2018, a 21st-century high. Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers are continuing to identify and promote infrastructure development.  The strength of America’s water resources infrastructure is an unsung success story of the booming economy. Inland waterways such as... Continue Reading

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