Washington Weekly
Feb. 17, 2014

Last Week

The House and Senate both passed clean debt-ceiling increases, without tying in any additional legislative provisions. In addition, both houses passed legislation reversing cuts to veteran's pensions, if signed into law, the $6 million price tag would be offset by extending the existing cuts to Medicare resulting from the Sequestration agreement.

Also last week, the White House eased the requirement that businesses with over 50 employees provide health insurance to full-time workers (at least 30 hours per week) or face a penalty, which has already been delayed a year.

Specifically, the regulations state:

  1. Businesses with 50-99 full-time workers will not be subject to the mandate until 2016.
  2. Those with more than 100 full-time workers must offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees this year, and 95 percent after that.
  3. Volunteers are not counted as full-time employees.
  4. Read the Treasury Department fact sheet and the full regulations.
  5. In 2013, 99 percent of firms with 200+ employees offered health benefits; 91 percent of firms with 50-199 employees did, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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This Week

The House and Senate are in recess.More

Item of Interest

LAST CALL! Last week, the House Judiciary Committee announced that they will hold a hearing on March 4 examining the Marketplace Fairness Act. 2014 is make-or-break year for finally leveling the playing field between brick-and-mortar businesses and the Internet. For more than 20 years, a government-approved disparity has existed between the retail and wholesale marketplace and those who sell online only. Due to outdated laws, Internet businesses, unlike you, are not required to collect and remit sales taxes. Now is the time for brick-and-mortar sellers in ASA to stand up and fight back.

ASA is joining with our partners in the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, and we are asking for your company to lend its name to this effort. This letter will be signed by individual businesses, not associations. If you would consider signing our letter, please let me know.

THE LETTER WILL BE CLOSING FOR SIGNATURES TOMORROW, FEB. 18.

I don't have to tell you how easy it is for eBay to encourage the millions of sellers in their grassroots army. Last fall more than 350 Internet businesses wrote to Congress in opposition of leveling the playing field. We cannot let another year go by with Internet sellers having this advantage. We cannot allow the opponents to rely on a recalcitrant Congress to once again do nothing and let this legislation die.More

Behind the Scenes of a Dramatic Debt Vote
POLITICO
Sen. Ted Cruz and the GOP rank and file ultimately backed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn into a corner on the debt-ceiling increase. The leaders had wanted to allow the toxic measure to pass with just 51 votes so all 45 Republicans could vote against it. But Cruz, the Texas tea party freshman, demanded approval by a 60-vote threshold.More

New Senate Finance Chairman: Tax Code a 'Rotten, Dysfunctional Mess'
The Hill
The new head of the Senate Finance Committee wants to renew more than 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013 as his first goals in the post. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said on Bloomberg TV's "Political Capital" that the measures, known as tax extenders, will be the first in a "two-step drill" toward more comprehensive tax reform.More

Here's What's Happening After the Debt Ceiling: Nothing
NationalJournal
With the debt limit raised, a budget passed, and the funds appropriated, Congress will have largely cleared its decks — though for what is still unclear.More