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Washington Briefing
   March 22, 2013
Next edition April 12

The House and Senate are in recess until April 8. The next edition of Washington Briefing will be April 12, 2013.

Bill to Keep Government Funded Heads to President's Desk

The House on Thursday voted 318-109 to concur with the Senate-passed stopgap spending bill (H.R. 933) to keep the government funded after March 27, the date the current stopgap spending bill expires.

Earlier this month, the House voted to approve a six-month continuing resolution, and on Wednesday, the Senate voted 73-26 to pass the $984-billion spending bill with changes. With the approval of the House on Thursday, the bill now heads to President Barack Obama's desk for signature.

The House-passed bill initially had proposed shifting billions of dollars to the Pentagon to help cope with the automatic spending cuts that went into effect March 1 with the sequester. While the Senate concurred with some amendments to shift money around, it rejected others, including an amendment to keep White House tours running.

The Defense Department will be able to rebalance some spending by adding about $10 billion to its operations and maintenance budget, for example. But the Pentagon still plans to send furlough notices this week to a majority of the agency's 800,000 civilian employees, announcing as many as 22 unpaid days, to be counted by one day a week.

The government funding measure, which lasts through Sept. 30, contains full appropriations bills for the departments of Defense, Commerce, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Homeland Security, while maintaining the rest of the federal government at current levels.

Dueling Budget Plans Move Through Congress

As Congress finished its work on fiscal year 2013 appropriations, it also moved toward completing its work on the budget proposals to set funding levels for the government in fiscal year 2014.

On Thursday, the House voted 221-207 to pass a 2014 budget plan authored by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI). Only 10 Republicans voted against the Ryan budget. The Ryan budget proposes balancing the budget in 10 years by repealing the 2010 health care law, slowing the rate of growth in government spending by about $4.6 trillion and cutting taxes. The full legislative text of the House Budget plan can be read here. Additional information, including summaries, key facts, tables, charts and graphs can be found here.

The Murray budget trims federal spending by about $975 billion over the next decade by replacing the sequester's $1.2 trillion of automatic spending cuts with a blend of tax increases and smaller cuts, including $240 billion in savings from the conclusion of the war in Afghanistan, which many have argued shouldn't be considered "cuts." The Senate plan also includes a $100-billion stimulus package, which would finance transportation projects, school construction and job-training programs. The full legislative text of the Senate budget plan can be read here. Additional information including a summary and tables can be found here.

Water Resources Bill Moves Forward

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously passed S. 601, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (WRDA). After a four-year delay to reauthorize WRDA, the bipartisan vote clears the way to advance critical legislation that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' civil works program.

Senate floor consideration is not expected until later this spring.

Click here to read a summary of the legislation.

In case you missed it...

Sewell, Roby divided over bill to streamline workforce development programs
Al.com (Enoch, 3/15) reports, "U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell and Martha Roby are divided over legislation passed by the House [last Friday] that seeks to reform federal workforce development programs. Sewell, who criticized the bill as partisan, was among the 202 who voted against the act, and Roby, who hailed the legislation as a way to make government more efficient, joined the 215 House members who voted in favor of House Resolution 803. The vote was mostly along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against the legislation, according to House records."

Sessions praises decision to increase the cost per pound on Vietnamese catfish imports
Al.com (Enoch, 3/15) reports, "U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions is praising a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to set a higher cost per pound for Vietnamese catfish in U.S. markets, a move the Mobile Republican says will help level the playing field for U.S. farmers. As part of a recent administrative review, the department announced that Indonesia would be used as a surrogate country to calculate the price per pound of frozen fish fillets coming from Vietnam."

Brooks introduces bill to address currency manipulation by China
Al.com (Gattis, 3/20) reports, "U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, [Wednesday] introduced bipartisan legislation designed to attack China's practice of manipulating currency to give the country a competitive advantage. Brooks announced the legislation at a Capitol Hill press conference along with Sander Levin, D-Minnesota, Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. The legislation, dubbed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, holds foreign nations accountable for wrongful manipulation of currency exchange rates, according to Brooks' announcement."

Contact Your Representatives
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House and Senate  2013 Calendars
House Calendar

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BCA Events
The 2013 Alabama
Manufacturer of the Year Awards Luncheon with keynote speaker Gov. Robert Bentley will be
Friday, April 19, 2013,
11:30 a.m. at the
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center.
Reserve your seat today!

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