Policy Papers

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


June 19, 2019

The Tax Benefits of Opportunity Zones

KEY TAKEAWAYS Opportunity zones are a new tax benefit, established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, designed to spur investment in economically distressed communities. The tax benefits are two-fold: taxes owed on capital gains can be deferred, and in some cases reduced, if the gains are reinvested in an opportunity zone fund; and the gains on opportunity zone investments held at least 10 years are tax free. Investments in an opportunity zone are subject to many rules and restrictions, most... Continue Reading


June 13, 2019

An Introduction to Opportunity Zones

KEY TAKEAWAYS Opportunity zones are a new tax benefit created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur investment in economically distressed communities. The tax benefits are two-fold: taxes owed on capital gains can be deferred, and in some cases reduced, if the gains are reinvested in an opportunity zone fund; and the gains on opportunity zone investments held at least 10 years are tax free. Statutory reporting requirements were struck from TCJA, but there are efforts underway to fill the... Continue Reading


June 11, 2019

Humanitarian Crisis at the Border

KEY TAKEAWAYS An unprecedented 411,000 unaccompanied children and families crossed our southern border in the past eight months – larger than any previous full year. The Department of Health and Human Services could run out of grant money for organizations to provide shelter and care for more than 13,000 unaccompanied children at the end of the month. Federal employees will either be furloughed or will work without pay. President Trump has requested $4.5 billion to address the... Continue Reading


June 7, 2019

May 2019 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 3.6 percent Jobs Created: 75,000 Employment and Unemployment The Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent in May, a near-50-year low. Nonfarm jobs grew by 75,000 in May. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected 180,000 jobs. Combined job growth for March and April was lower than originally reported. Labor revised the job creation numbers down for March and April by a combined 75,000 jobs.  The U-6... Continue Reading


June 5, 2019

Data Privacy: From California to the European Union

KEY TAKEAWAYS Recent data privacy scandals have shaken the confidence of consumers worldwide, leading to calls to regulate what internet businesses can do with people’s personal information. Two of the most prominent data privacy laws influencing our domestic debate are the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act. Both laws are based upon the principle that people own their personal information and should have control over it, but there are important... Continue Reading


May 22, 2019

Paying for Surface Transportation Infrastructure

KEY TAKEAWAYS With the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act expiring on September 30, 2020, discussions are starting on its reauthorization and ways to pay for these investments. The current leading source of funding, the Highway Trust Fund, has been spending more than it takes in for years and has required infusions from the U.S. Treasury. Some policy options to pay for transportation projects include mileage-based charges, asset recycling, infrastructure banks, and more... Continue Reading


May 22, 2019

Medicare Part D: The Noninterference Clause

KEY TAKEAWAYS Medicare Part D includes a “noninterference clause” that protects market competition and patient access by prohibiting the government from interfering in negotiations among insurers, drug manufacturers, and pharmacies. Democrats have proposed repealing this clause to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate drug prices for Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office has predicted this would have a “negligible” effect on federal... Continue Reading


May 20, 2019

Senate RPC: Glossary of Senate Terms

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May 16, 2019

Update: Border Security by the Numbers

KEY TAKEAWAYS Illegal border crossings in the last four months have more than doubled compared to the same period last year. Border apprehensions in each of the last three months have exceeded the highest month of the Obama administration, far exceeding even the Central American migrant crisis in 2014.  The situation at our southwest border continues to worsen. There have been 460,294 people apprehended trying to cross our southwest border between ports of entry so far in fiscal year... Continue Reading


May 15, 2019

Net Neutrality: “Hands Off” the Internet

KEY TAKEAWAYS Contrary to the doomsday predictions from many Democrats, the internet has continued to thrive since the FCC’s 2017 Order to Restore Internet Freedom. Broadband speeds are up, the private sector is investing in building the infrastructure to power the next generation of high-speed internet, and more Americans are gaining access to high-speed internet. Consumers remain protected by the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s main privacy and consumer protection... Continue Reading


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