entitlements

Haaland recalls struggles as single mom, Thanksgiving and being homeless
“My daughter was like, ‘Mom, we were actually homeless’’

New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, center, says her struggles as a single mom continue to guide her as a lawmaker in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Americans typically celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with friends and family to cook and eat bountiful feasts. We tend to think of it as a day of abundance and sometimes overindulgence.

But Deb Haaland recalls one year when her experience was far from typical or joyful.

Census falling further behind in hiring outreach staff
Partnership specialists are critical to reach hard-to-count populations

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in July that the “the bricks and mortar [strategy] wasn’t working” to protect the agency’s shrinking number of area Census offices and closure of its Questionnaire Assistance Centers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Census officials continue to fall behind their goals for hiring local outreach staff, a critical component in promoting the 2020 census among the hardest-to-count populations in the country, agency officials told an advisory committee.

While several aspects of the preparations, including address verification, are on or ahead of schedule, the U.S. Census Bureau said it remains more than 200 people short of its goal of hiring 1,500 local partnership staff ahead of next year’s count. The hiring problems have come as the agency ramps up for the 2020 enumeration that will be used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state, how federal funds are allocated, and to structure economic surveys.

Draft stopgap would protect Ukraine aid, deny wall flexibility
Draft CR doesn’t grant administration request to use CBP funds to build sections of southern border wall outside of Rio Grande Valley Sector

North Carolina Highway 12 leading onto Hatteras Island is covered with sand after Hurricane Dorian hit the area on Sept. 6. The draft stopgap spending bill being circulated by Democrats would accommodate a White House request to speed up disaster relief spending for Dorian cleanup as other tropical disturbances still threaten. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The measure would also accommodate a White House request to allow an increased rate of disaster relief spending as cleanup from Hurricane Dorian continues and other tropical disturbances still threaten

House Democrats are circulating a draft stopgap spending bill to fund government agencies beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year that would prevent the White House from blocking military assistance to Ukraine and money for a variety of foreign aid-related programs.

Large employers question ‘Medicare for All’ plans, survey shows
Business group poll shows concerns about costs, taxes still loom large

National Nurses United union members wave “Medicare for All” signs during a rally in Washington on April 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most large employers say a “Medicare for All” system would lower the number of uninsured people in the United States, but they are concerned it could increase health care costs and taxes while stifling innovation and quality, a new survey shows.

The concerns come as health industry groups seek to block momentum for plans from Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers to expand Medicare through a single-payer program or to allow people under age 65 to enroll in the program.

Senate bill aims to protect taxpayers from costly drugs
Seeks to help Medicare control costs so premiums can remain stable

One proposed change to Medicare prescription drug benefit is to help the program control costs it absorbs to keep premiums stable. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress this year could enact the biggest overhaul of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit since it was first established in 2003. If successful, seniors — and taxpayers — would be more insulated against the cost of the most expensive drugs. 

One proposed change is meant to help Medicare control the costs it absorbs so that the program’s premiums can remain stable despite increasing drug prices. Supporters of the drug program tout its low premiums, with the Trump administration and the private insurers who run Part D recently highlighting that average consumer premiums will fall in 2020.

‘Public charge’ rule creates Homeland spending bill headache
Amendment blocks proposed rules on immigrant access to Medicaid and food stamps

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., offered an amendment that would block the Department of Homeland Security's proposed "public charge" rule from going into effect. (File photo by Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

An amendment inserted into the House's fiscal 2020 Homeland Security spending bill by Appropriations Committee Democrats during the panel's June markup would bust the subcommittee's allocation by nearly $3.1 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Adopted on a 28-21 vote, the amendment from Reps. David E. Price of North Carolina, Pete Aguilar and Barbara Lee of California, and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin would block a number of Trump administration immigration policies, including protecting beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from deportation and revoking Trump's travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries.

USDA seeks to narrow eligibility for food stamps
Proposal looks to tighten eligibility for people who receive noncash benefits

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the draft rule will close a loophole that allows people with gross incomes above 130 percent of the poverty level to become eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and potentially qualify for food stamps. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration will push ahead with a proposal to tighten food stamp eligibility for people who receive certain noncash benefits from a federal welfare program, a move that could end aid for up to 3 million people.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the draft rule published in Tuesday’s Federal Register will end what he and congressional Republicans say is a loophole that allows people with gross incomes above 130 percent of the poverty level to become eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and potentially qualify for food stamps through the program.

White House offers up extensive menu of cuts for spending caps deal
The administration wants at least $150 billion in savings

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the talks for her side of the aisle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration has laid out a wide array of spending cuts and tweaks to mandatory programs for Democratic leaders to consider for inclusion in a two-year discretionary caps and debt limit package.

The White House offsets menu includes $574 billion culled from items in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, according to a source familiar with the proposal. In addition, there’s $516 billion in “structural reforms” obtained by extending current discretionary spending limits by another two years, through fiscal 2023.

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.