Policy Papers

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


September 6, 2019

August 2019 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 3.7% Jobs Created: 130,000 Employment and Unemployment The Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate remained at 3.7% in August. Nonfarm jobs grew by 130,000 in August. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected 150,000 jobs. Combined job growth for June and July was lower than originally reported. Labor revised the job creation numbers down for June and July by a combined 20,000 jobs.  The U-6 unemployment rate, a measure that also includes... Continue Reading


September 4, 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 Senate could vote on the resolution in early September.   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... Continue Reading


August 2, 2019

July 2019 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 3.7 percent Jobs Created: 164,000 Employment and Unemployment The Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in July. Nonfarm jobs grew by 164,000 in July. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected 165,000 jobs. Combined job growth for May and June was less than originally reported. Labor revised the job creation numbers down for May and June by a combined 41,000 jobs.   The U-6 unemployment rate, a measure that also... Continue Reading


August 1, 2019

Myth vs. Fact on "Medicare for All"

KEY TAKEAWAYS Under Democrats’ so-called Medicare for All plans, long wait times and rationing of care will replace the kind of access, quality, and choice American patients expect. Medicare for All will cut payments to hospitals and doctors, leaving patients struggling to find care. When Americans hear the details on Medicare for All, support drops.   Democrats have released a slew of plans to have Washington take over health care for every American. The plans differ in small... Continue Reading


July 31, 2019

What's Happening with Automated Vehicles?

KEY TAKEAWAYS Partially automated vehicles already are available to consumers, and eventually vehicles may be able to handle all driving that humans do today. Cities and states largely have set the rules for automated vehicle development and testing. The federal government, which regulates vehicle safety standards, is taking steps to facilitate the safe development and deployment of increasingly automated vehicles. As carmakers develop automated vehicles, the federal government will have a... Continue Reading


July 30, 2019

On the Cusp of Energy Independence

KEY TAKEAWAYS In 2018, the U.S. had its best single-year increase in energy production. American energy exports surged 64% from 2015 to 2018. For the first time since 1973, the U.S. was a net energy producer for two consecutive months, in September and October 2018. Thanks to a historic increase in energy production, the United States has very nearly achieved energy independence. U.S. energy producers broke records in 2018, including: most electricity produced by natural gas, most crude oil... Continue Reading


July 25, 2019

Understanding Pell Grants

KEY TAKEAWAYS Pell Grants are the main federal grant to help lower-income students pay for college. In 2017, Congress reinstated a provision that restored year-round Pell Grants and is designed to help students afford to remain enrolled in classes throughout the year and graduate in less time. As part of reauthorizing higher education programs, Congress may consider changes that further expand access to Pell Grants.  Federal Pell Grants, which provide need-based aid to help low- and... Continue Reading


July 24, 2019

The Patchwork of Federal Data Protection Laws

KEY TAKEAWAYS There is no comprehensive federal law governing data privacy and data security; we rely on a patchwork of federal laws enacted at different times that regulate certain industries and types of data. Several Senate committees divide jurisdiction over these privacy statutes. In contrast to the European Union, the United States has no comprehensive law governing data protection. Instead, there are a number of laws that regulate specific industries and categories of data. These... Continue Reading


July 23, 2019

Registered Apprenticeships

KEY TAKEAWAYS Registered apprenticeships are one way American workers get work experience and technical skills they need for jobs that are in high demand. There were 585,000 apprentices in federal registered apprenticeships as of fiscal year 2018; and 71,700 completed a program that year. Apprenticeships help employers attract and retain workers, and they help workers certify their skills, find jobs, and increase their earnings.  The U.S. economy’s unprecedented growth means more... Continue Reading


July 18, 2019

Mark Esper: Nominee for Secretary of Defense

KEY TAKEAWAYS Mark Esper has a record of service to his country and a wide range of experiences that have helped prepare him to serve as secretary of defense. A decorated veteran, he served on active duty in the Army for more than a decade, including service in the Gulf War with the 101st Airborne Division, and then served 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve. The Department of Defense needs a qualified and capable Senate-confirmed leader at its helm. Mark Esper has served his... Continue Reading


July 18, 2019

Balancing Drug Innovation and Marketing Competition

KEY TAKEAWAYS Patents and other protections for pharmaceutical innovation give inventors the incentive to develop new drugs, improving the health of American patients. Patents last for 20 years, beginning at the date the manufacturer files the application. Drug makers sometimes use tactics to delay less expensive alternatives from entering the market. The HELP and Judiciary committees have advanced bills to address anti-competitive behavior and encourage generic drug competition.  The... Continue Reading


July 16, 2019

Judges Confirmations Update

KEY TAKEAWAYS As of today, the Senate has confirmed 42 circuit court judges, 83 district court judges, and 2 Supreme Court justices appointed by President Trump for a total of 127 judgeships. A little under a quarter of all active circuit judges are Trump appointees. By the end of this week, the Senate will likely have confirmed 37 judges since the change in post-cloture debate time on April 3 – far more than the 7 judicial confirmations in the same period of time before the change. The... Continue Reading


July 11, 2019

Modernizing the Nuclear Triad

KEY TAKEAWAYS The United States military is modernizing the three weapon systems that constitute the “nuclear triad.” The near-simultaneous transition to these new nuclear delivery systems raises risks if one of the three is delayed. Modernization of all our nuclear weapon systems is a necessary and decades-long effort needed for both national security and safety reasons.  The backbone of American military deterrence is the nuclear triad – submarines, intercontinental... Continue Reading


July 10, 2019

Deregulation Push Continues

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Trump administration finalized the Affordable Clean Energy Rule and the repeal of the Clean Power Plan on June 19, and it is expected to finalize two more major deregulatory actions in the coming months. These rules involve carbon emissions from power plants, vehicle fuel efficiency standards, and federal jurisdiction for regulation under the Clean Water Act. The issuing agencies expect the rules will cut regulatory costs by more than $1 trillion and produce net benefits of... Continue Reading


July 5, 2019

June 2019 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 3.7 percent Jobs Created: 224,000 Employment and Unemployment The Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 3.7 percent in June. Nonfarm jobs grew by 224,000 in June. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected 165,000 jobs. Combined job growth for April and May was lower than originally reported. Labor revised the job creation numbers down for April and May by a combined 11,000 jobs.   The U-6... Continue Reading


June 27, 2019

Debt Limit 101

KEY TAKEAWAYS The current statutory debt limit – $21,987,705,611,407 – was established on March 2 when the previous debt limit suspension period expired and the ceiling was reset to reflect the current amount outstanding. The Treasury Department is using extraordinary measures to temporarily avoid breaching the limit, but eventually Congress must act. History shows that the financial and economic turmoil caused by a debt limit impasse lingers even after lawmakers have raised the... Continue Reading


June 27, 2019

The Importance of 5G

KEY TAKEAWAYS The fifth generation wireless systems, known as 5G, could be up to 100 times faster than 4G and will power the “Internet of Things,” including telemedicine and autonomous vehicles. The country that leads the world in the adoption of 5G technology will have a distinct technological, economic, and national security advantage over other countries. National security implications of 5G include how the spectrum will be shared by government and the private sector and how to... Continue Reading


June 25, 2019

Key Players in the Prescription Drug Market

KEY TAKEAWAYS The path of a drug from manufacturer to medicine cabinet is complex, with many factors affecting the price a patient pays. These factors are not always publicly disclosed, hiding the true cost of prescription drugs. President Trump has taken steps to reform parts of the supply chain, and additional measures are starting to make their way through Congress. The path a drug takes to its final purchaser – the patient – is complicated by many interactions along the supply... Continue Reading


June 20, 2019

Repaying and Forgiving Federal Student Loans

KEY TAKEAWAYS Congress is preparing to update the Higher Education Act, last fully reauthorized in 2008, which includes loans, grants, institutional aid, and related programs. Many observers of higher education have concerns about college affordability, completion rates, accountability, and borrowers’ ability to repay loans. Borrowers face a complex federal loan repayment system that offers a number of repayment plans and forgiveness programs that each have different rules and... Continue Reading


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