AUCD Legislative News In Brief

December 12, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  December 12, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 49
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Congressional Schedule
Congressional leaders continue to negotiate fiscal year 2012 appropriations and an extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut enacted last year as a temporary fiscal stimulus measure.  The busy calendar may force Congress to stay in session through the weekend. 

FY 2012 Appropriations
Negotiations are under way between the House and Senate to complete a nine-bill, $900 billion appropriations package (omnibus) to finance much of the government through the end of fiscal 2012.  Our Hill sources believe the Congress will finalize the funding bills before the December 16 expiration of the current continuing resolution.  So far, Congress has only passed appropriations bills for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Transportation.  The debt limit law passed in August limits the overall fiscal 2012 discretionary funding amount to $1.043 trillion, which amounts to a $7 billion reduction from fiscal 2011.

To avoid the most contentious fights over spending differences and policy riders, negotiators may combine at least three domestic bills together (Labor-HHS-Education, Interior-Environment and Financial Services) and fund those agencies at close-to-current levels through a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year.  Given some of the damaging cuts proposed by the House leadership, a long-term continuing resolution might be the best scenario for AUCD network programs.  AUCD is watching the negotiations closely.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced last week the Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act of 2011 (HR 3521).  The bill would give the president 45 days from the enactment of an appropriations bill to send up to two "messages" to Congress recommending cancellation of specific discretionary spending items.  The president could withhold funds for the programs for 45 days while Congress writes legislation to implement the recommendation, which would then get expedited floor consideration and a straight up-or-down vote with no amendments.  The savings from any cancellation could only be used for deficit reduction, and spending caps would be adjusted downward to reflect the savings.  The bill is scheduled for markup by the Committee today.  A similar bill in the Senate is sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Carper (D-DE).  It is unclear at this time if the bill has enough support in either chamber for passage in this Congress.

Health Care Reform
Lawmakers are also trying to figure out a way to avoid a 27 percent cut to medical providers who accept Medicare that will go into effect January 1unless unless Congress acts.  House Republicans released a proposal Friday to fix the issue, as well as extend unemployment benefits and the Social Security payroll tax cut.  Although a long-term solution for the physician-reimbursement rate is needed, advocates are concerned that the proposal would take money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund and other programs authorized by the Affordable Care Act to pay for the change. 

Last week, the US Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released a
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would revise regulations implementing the non-discrimination and affirmative action regulations of section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  Section 503 prohibits discrimination by covered Federal contractors and subcontractors on the basis of disability, and requires affirmative action on behalf of qualified individuals with disabilities.  The proposed regulations would strengthen the affirmative action provisions, detailing specific actions a contractor must take to satisfy its obligations, such as setting a goal to have seven percent of their workforce be people with disabilities.  The rule would also increase contractors' data collection obligations and establish a utilization goal for individuals with disabilities to assist in measuring the effectiveness of the contractor's affirmative action efforts.  The department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is welcoming public comment until February 7, 2012.

Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee introduced two bills last week to amend the Workforce Investment Act.  Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act (HR 3610), which consolidates 33 of the 47 job training programs authorized by WIA.  Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) introduced the Local Job Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) Act of 2011 (HR 3611) which would ensure that two-thirds of members of local workforce investment boards are employers, eliminate more than 20 federal mandates regarding board representation, and require boards to reserve a portion of resources (determined by the local board) to spend directly on training.  For more information, see the committee press release.

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website:

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