Washington Weekly
Jul. 27, 2015

Last Week

The House spent much of the week debating immigration policy, having voted to block federal grants to so-called "sanctuary cities." The sanctuary city debate centers on laws that are aimed at encouraging illegal immigrants to report crimes to the police without fear of deportation. In addition, the House passed legislation improving coal regulation. According to sponsors, it provides for the safe management and disposal of coal ash in a way that preserves jobs and encourages recycling. The recycling and beneficial use of coal ash keeps utility costs low and provides for low-cost durable construction materials such as concrete and roofing materials, and reduces waste helping keep our environment clean. The Senate spent the week, including the weekend working on a finding a solution to the expiring Highway trust fund.More

This Week

The House plans to depart for its August recess after Wednesday. The Senate can either take up the Housed-passed highway funding measure that lasts through December, or pass their own in time for the House to also pass it before sending it to the President’s desk. The House version is a patch lasting through the end of the year, whereas the Senate’s version is a six-year reauthorization, but only the first three years are paid for. In addition, the Senate's version is expected to include a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank’s charter, which remains unpopular in the House. Also over the weekend, the Senate failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was caught up in the battle for the White House while voting on the transportation bill. Both houses may take up fast-tracked funding to go after Planned Parenthood amidst reports of unethical practices by the healthcare group. Under the fast-track process, legislation could go directly to the floor and bypass committees of jurisdiction.More

Item of Interest

Are you providing reimbursements, or do you have a so-called Health Reimbursement Arrangements with your employees? A new IRS regulation that went into effect July 1 could impose a fine of $100 a day per worker — up to $36,500 — for businesses that provide tax-free assistance with workers’ individual health insurance premiums or medical costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals face a penalty for not buying health insurance. But now even small businesses that choose to jump through hoops to help workers pay for healthcare costs could face penalties. The regulation would cost businesses over 18 times more than the Obamacare penalty for larger businesses not providing health insurance for employees, which is $2,000. Bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate would repeal this ruling, we're hopeful that Congress will take this up this fall.More

The Newest Obamacare Fail: Penalties of $36,500 Per Worker
MarketWatch (opinion)
Hey, employers, don't even think about reimbursing your workers' health insurance premiums. Beginning in July, the IRS can levy fines amounting to $100 per worker per day or $36,500 per worker per year, with a maximum of $500,000 per firm. This Internal Revenue Service penalty is not written into the Obamacare law. More

Senate Votes to Revive Export-Import Bank, Keep Obamacare
Roll Call
In a pair of losses for conservatives, the Senate voted overwhelmingly July 26 to revive the Export-Import Bank while failing to overcome a filibuster of an attempt to repeal Obamacare — with more fireworks to come. The rare votes set the stage for the Senate to send a long-term highway bill tied to the Ex-Im Bank to the House later this week, but not before facing other gambits by conservatives, including a procedural vote forced by Sen. Ted Cruz regarding the Iran deal and an effort to deploy a maneuver akin to the "nuclear option."More

Obamacare Repeal Vote Fails in Senate
The Senate on July 26 voted down a Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, the GOP's first attempt to get rid of the president's health law since the party took control of the chamber in January. The effort fell 49-43, exactly along party lines, with eight senators not voting in the rare weekend session. Third-fifths of the Senate would have had to vote to add Obamacare repeal to a highway funding bill. More

Against All Odds
National Journal
Contributor T.A. Frank writes: "This inquiry into a presidential candidate with no chance of winning begins with an admittedly insulting premise: that its subject, who has technically laid out his reasons for seeking the White House, is running for reasons unknown. But I'm not alone in being baffled by the candidacy of George Elmer Pataki. (His middle name is employed mainly by his detractors, because it is Elmer.) As Chris Cillizza wrote several months ago in The Washington Post: "Wait. Why is George Pataki running for president?" If we had a good answer to this question, wouldn't we be wiser—not just about George Pataki but about the psychology of all politicians? Thus began my quest."More