Washington Weekly
Mar. 30, 2015

Last Week

The House managed to pass two big bills with minimal infighting amongst the majority. All but 17 Republicans ended up voting for final passage for the budget resolution, a margin of ten, considered a victory for the Speaker. The budget resolution does not go to the President to be signed into law, but it sets firm spending caps that Congress must adhere to as it works to pass individual appropriations for the federal government. In addition, the House passed a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate, which is the formula that the government uses to reimburse physicians who treat Medicare patients. While only pegged to Medicare, it serves as the reimbursement rate used by insurers for all medical care and treatments.

The Senate undertook their annual "vote-a-rama," where any senator could offer a vote on amendment to the budget. The Senate voted on 42 amendments on issues as diverse as Iran sanctions to accommodations to pregnant women to protecting highway funds of states refusing to submit EPA coal regulation implementation plans. In addition, they cleared several nominees and noncontroversial bills. More

This Week

The House and Senate are in recess.More

Item of Interest

Last week, after months of negotiating and drafting, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the Remote Transaction Parity Act. The legislation would finally level the playing field between brick-and-mortar sellers such as ASA's members and those that sell online only and avoid remitting and paying sales tax. Because this legislation is so new, members of the House are not likely to be aware of it, especially since they'll be out of Washington until April 13. This is a prime example of why it will be so important for leaders in ASA's that are coming to Washington in two weeks at ASA's Annual Legislative Fly-in, to educate policymakers on this legislation.More

Vote-a-Rama Presents Political Peril for Vulnerable Incumbents
Roll Call
Senators aren’t making law as they complete work on the budget resolution, but for those facing the voters in 2016, the affair is riddled with political landmines, often set deliberately by the other party. Of the 34 senators up for re-election in 2016, 24 are Republicans, several in highly competitive swing states. Just two Democratic incumbents are running in competitive states. Democrats need a net gain of five seats to secure the majority.More

How Boehner, Pelosi Surprised Everyone with a $200 Billion Deal
The Hill
A few days after the chaos of a failed vote to fund the Department of Homeland Security, Speaker John Boehner asked for a meeting, alone, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Compromise was on his mind. With automatic cuts to doctors under Medicare set to take effect at the end of March, Boehner, R-Ohio, wanted to explore the possibility of a deal that would end the Sustainable Growth Rate, and with it a problem that has dogged Congress for nearly two decades.More

Loaded Transportation Agenda Could Easily be Derailed
Politico
There's a laundry list of things transportation lawmakers want to get done in 2015, but they could easily be stymied by old foes, primarily a lack of money and partisan wrangling ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Lawmakers from both chambers face a to-do list that includes major legislation affecting just about every mode: aviation, passenger and freight rail, highways, bridges, transit and water resources. More

GOP's Competing Priorities Exposed in Budget Brawl
The Hill
Republicans have long liked to say that they're hawkish on both defending the nation and balancing budgets. That sentiment has faced its biggest test in years over recently, as GOP lawmakers sparred over a comparatively small sliver of war funding in congressional budget debates. More