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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR JANUARY 23, 2009:

Budget/Appropriations/Economic Overview


American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

In close collaboration with the Obama Administration, the leadership in the House and Senate has developed an economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which totals $550 billion in total spending. This bill was marked up and reported out of the House Appropriations Committee on January 21, 2009. Highlights of the stimulus package follow:

  • Healthcare: $30 billion to help unemployed workers keep their employer provided health insurance coverage known as 'COBRA'); $9 billion for increased Medicaid for unemployed workers; $20 billion for health information technology; $3 billion for disease prevention; $2 billion for NIH research grants; $1.5 billion for university research facilities; $1.5 billion for community health centers.
  • Energy: $16 billion for grants, loans, and loan guarantees for renewable energy and efficiency; $11 billion to upgrade the electricity grid; $7 billion for federal building energy efficiency; $6 billion to weatherize low-income homes; $7 billion for local government energy efficiency block grants; $2.5 billion for low-income housing energy retrofit; $2 billion for fossil energy carbon capture and sequestration; $2 billion for Dept. of Energy research; $2 billion for grants and loans for advanced battery technology.
  • DOD / VA facilities: $8 billion for Dept. of Defense facilities; $1 billion for veterans medical facilities.
  • Environment: $10 billion for wastewater treatment and safe drinking water; $2 billion for Superfund and other environmental cleanup.
  • Broadband access: $6 billion for broadband internet access in underserved areas.
  • Public Lands & Waterways: $4.5 billion for backlogged Corps of Engineers projects; $3 billion for infrastructure on federal lands (including $2 billion for National Park Service); $1 billion for reducing wildfires.
  • Early Childhood Development: $2 billion for Head Start; $2 billion for low-income child care.
  • Science: $3 billion for National Science Foundation; $2 billion for research funded by BARDA, NOAA, NIST, USGS, and Dept. of Agriculture; $600 million for NASA.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009

The tax reduction portion of the overall economic stimulus proposal referred to as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 was marked up by the House Ways & Means Committee on January 22, 2009. This bill totals $275. The major features of the tax bill include:

  • 'Making Work Pay' credits: Middle class payroll tax relief in the form of a $1000 tax cut ($500 for individuals) -- phasing out at $150,000 for couples.
  • Education: $2500 tax credit for the first four years of higher education expenses (40% refundable for taxpayers owing no tax).
  •  Housing Stimulus: Remove repayment requirement on $7500 first-time home buyer credit until 6/30/09.

The House is expected to bring the bill to the floor on January 28th. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the bill on January 27th.

Finishing the FY 2009 Appropriations Bills

Funding authority for 9 of the 12 appropriation bills is currently provided by a Continuing Resolution which will expire on March 6th. Current plans of the Congressional leadership are to package the remaining bills in an omnibus measure for passage on February 13th.

FY 2010 Budget

The President is required to transmit the FY 2010 budget to Congress on February 2nd. As is typical in presidential transition years, the Obama Administration will meet the February 2nd deadline by transmitting a budget summary. The Obama Administration will subsequently submit the full FY 2010 budget request late in March.

SCHIP

The House passed a bill to reauthorize and expand SCHIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program) on January 14th by a vote of 289-139. The cost of the SCHIP bill is offset by increased cigarette taxes as well as closing loopholes for doctor owned specialty hospitals.

The Senate Finance Committee marked up its version of the SCHIP bill on January 15th, with floor action expected the week of January 25th.

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