entitlements

Mnuchin says there is a topline agreement on spending caps and debt limit
Treasury secretary says talks continue on offsets and structure of a deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the White House, Senate and House have an agreement on a two-year debt ceiling increase. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that agreement has been reached on spending levels for fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 as well as a two-year extension of the debt limit.

“The good news is we’ve reached an agreement between the administration, the House and the Senate on topline numbers for both year one and year two. We’re now discussing offsets as well as certain structural issues. And we’ve agreed as part of that deal there would be a long-term, two-year debt ceiling increase,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So, I think, all of our first choice is to reach an overall agreement and we’re working hard to do that. But if for whatever reason we don’t get there in time, I am encouraging a debt ceiling increase.”

Pricey pension rescue headed to House floor next week
Bill would provide financial lifelines to union pension plans

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., confirmed the pensions bill is ready for a floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats will bring a $64.4 billion measure that would provide financial lifelines to union pension plans to the floor next week.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, the bill’s author, on Tuesday confirmed the schedule for the legislation, which has gone through the Ways and Means as well as Education and Labor panels.

Senate appropriations markups likely off until September
Congressional leaders and Trump administration have to agree on spending caps in next few weeks

Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is holding off on assembling the fiscal 2020 spending bills (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee likely won’t mark up any of its fiscal 2020 spending bills before leaving town for the August recess — the first time in more than three decades the panel hasn’t debated any of the annual spending bills before the customary summer break.

The decision to hold back Senate appropriations bills in the absence of a spending caps agreement has set a markedly different pace for the committee than last year, when it sent all 12 of its bills to the floor before the break began.

Congress returns to pressure to get spending deals done
Key to budget deal is agreement between Pelosi and Trump, GOP senator says

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby had hoped to start marking up fiscal 2020 spending bills after the July Fourth recess, but that looks unlikely now. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With only a month to go before the August recess and three months until the end of the fiscal year, House leaders will not bring the two remaining fiscal 2020 appropriations bills — Homeland Security and Legislative Branch — to the floor due to divisions within the Democratic caucus over those bills and diminishing floor time.

Some Democrats are opposed to an inflation adjustment to lawmaker salaries, as allowed in the Legislative Branch bill. Other Democrats are opposed to immigration and border funding provisions in the Homeland Security bill.

Democrats want to eliminate corporate tax cut but their tax measure avoids it
Democrats have plans for spending money raising corporate rate would bring in, but they’ll go nowhere as long as Trump is in the Oval Office

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has not included eliminating the corporate tax cut in current moving legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s no lack of plans from Democrats paid for by undoing at least part of the huge 2017 corporate tax rate cut. But the only Democrat with a tax bill currently moving through Congress is pointedly not talking about revisiting the lower 21 percent rate.

The 14 percentage point rate cut in the 2017 law, which is permanent, was projected to save corporations $1.35 trillion over its first 10 years. 

House Democrats to continue census probe
Panel will resume query into why a citizenship query was added to next year’s census.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., plans to continue to explore the origins of a census citizenship question. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Oversight and Reform Committee will continue to investigate the addition of a citizenship query to next year’s census, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings said Thursday in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to block the question.

[Supreme Court deals blow to census citizenship question]

Employers would get subsidies for hiring longtime unemployed workers in draft bill
The draft bill aims to assist an estimated 1.3 million people who have been out of work for at least six months

Sen. Chris Van Hollen exits the Senate subway as he arrives in the Capitol for the weekly Senate Democrats policy lunch on May 7, 2019. The Maryland Democrat and fellow Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon have proposed a new bill that would offer subsidies to employers who hire longtime unemployed workers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A pair of Democratic senators introduced legislation Thursday that would offer subsidies to employers who hire longtime unemployed workers.

The draft bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and backed by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, aims to assist an estimated 1.3 million people who have been out of work for at least six months. The government would offer one-year subsidies to cover two-thirds of the cost of a new hire’s wages and benefits, although the subsidy could be increased in times of high unemployment.

Ex-CBO director knocks GOP on Obamacare and Congress for rising deficits
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 112

Keith Hall, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, wants Congress to deal with the rising deficit and faulted the process Republicans followed to repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In an usually candid interview with CQ Roll Call's budget reporter Paul Krawzak, the recently departed Congressional Budget Office director Keith Hall said the often secretive process the Republicans followed defeated their effort to repeal Obamacare. He also urged Congress to deal with the rising deficits that will fall on the backs of younger Americans, saying that in the coming decade 50 percent of federal funding will be spent on just 20 percent of the population -- people who are 65 and older.

Show Notes:

White House wants to update poverty thresholds. It could affect food stamps and Medicaid benefits
Critics say move could weaken public assistance programs and increase hardship for low-wage earners

Supporters hold up “Save Medicaid” signs during the Senate Democrats’ news conference with disability advocates in September 2017 to oppose a Republican health care overhaul proposal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House Budget Office is considering its first update to inflation adjustment guidelines for poverty thresholds since 1978, with potential consequences for benefit programs serving low-income households.

The initiative is part of a re-evaluation of six inflation indexes used to track the impact on consumers of rising or falling prices. One of the indexes is used to adjust poverty thresholds, which underlie the calculation of eligibility for a number of benefit programs including Medicaid, food stamps and school lunches and breakfasts for poor children.

GOP conservatives sharpen knives for spending fight
House Republicans express concern about paying for $2 trillion infrastructure tab

House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady says conservatives need to put entitlement programs “back on America’s radar.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Conservatives are making a fresh push to spread their message of fiscal discipline after new estimates that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds will soon be depleted, and amid talk of a $2 trillion infrastructure spending package and busting discretionary spending limits.

The House Republican Study Committee released a budget proposal Wednesday that assumes cutting $12.6 trillion in spending over a decade and eliminating the deficit within six years.