CHN: Senate to Take Up Trade Package With Health Care Provision
Articles from April 26, 2002
- House Moves Forward on Welfare Reauthorization
On Thursday, April 18, two House subcommittees approved nearly identical bills to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The Human Resources Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee passed the Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2002 (HR 4090), introduced by Subcommittee Chair Wally Herger (R-CA). The bill was approved on a 6 to 4 party-line vote. The Education and Workforce Committee’s 21st Century Competitiveness Subcommittee passed a similar bill, the Working Toward Independence Act (H.R 4092), on a party-line vote of 9 to 7. HR 4092 is sponsored by Subcommittee Chair Howard McKeon (R-CA).
Budget Deficit May Be Larger than Projected
Leading budget experts have nearly doubled the projected budget deficit for the current fiscal year; the announcement came yesterday, April 25, just one week after the House approved legislation (H.R. 586) to make permanent the tax cuts contained in last year’s $1.35 trillion tax package. Earlier Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predictions of the budget deficit for fiscal year 2002 were around $46 billion, but because individual tax receipts are currently $40 billion below projections, experts are now saying that the projected deficit could be $30 billion to $70 billion higher than originally thought. A decline in tax revenue could mean that both the CBO and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would alter next summer’s budget projections to reflect far bleaker 10-year budget forecasts.
- Conferees Reach Tentative Farm Bill Deal
On Thursday, April 25, the House Agriculture Committee announced that the House-Senate Farm Bill Conferees have come to a tentative agreement on the framework for a final Farm Bill (HR 2646). Details of the specific policy provisions are expected to be revealed over the next few days as conference committee members review and finalize this legislation.
- House Passes Child Abuse Protection Legislation
On Tuesday, April 23, the House passed a child protection measure with overwhelming support. HR 3839, the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2002, is designed to prevent family violence and encourage adoption. It seeks to promote partnerships between child protective services and private and community-based organizations, and supports public education concerning child abuse. Introduced by Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), HR 3839 would reauthorize the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (PL 93-247) at $285 million annually over five years, and establish new state reporting requirements. In response to Democratic concerns, bill language was clarified to ensure that state and local assistance agencies could not be held liable if they knew about a child abuse case and were unable to put a stop to it. And to allay concerns raised by President Bush, language was included in the bill to assure a state’s right to prosecute mothers who give birth to drug-addicted babies. To date, the Senate has not introduced companion legislation.
- Senate to Take Up Trade Package With Health Care Provision
Omnibus trade legislation is set to be considered in the Senate, even though negotiators have been unable to compromise on health insurance for workers displaced as a result of federal trade policies. Senate Democrats are expected to offer an amendment that would renew fast track trade negotiating authority and reauthorize a program that aids displaced workers as part of a broader bill (HR 3009) to expand trade provisions for Andean nations. Democrat and Republican negotiators on the trade package continue to disagree over the level of health insurance subsidy granted to displaced workers. The Democratic proposal would allow no less than 73 percent of the cost of insurance to be covered, while Republicans will not go above 60 percent, advocating instead for tax credits for displaced workers. Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) is hopeful that an agreement will be reached, but if a compromise is not forged, Democrats may look to moderates from both parties for support.