Today is the Senate Budget Committee's markup of the FY18 budget resolution. The House is expected to pass their final version on the floor today.
I love politicians at the ends of their careers, because it gives them the freedom to go back to WHY they became politicians in the first place. We're seeing that from Corker this year, and sadly, we're seeing that from McCain too.
What Corker said yesterday, in more detail is this:
"There are 52 of us on the Republican side, hopefully this will end up being bipartisan, and it won’t just get down to Republican votes, but I’m voting to move this along, and voting to help us move through some of the parliamentary issues that don’t align with the House, but unless this bill in its final analysis number one, produces growth, in other words there’s something that’s helping working people to have better wages through productivity and that kind of thing. Unless it reduces deficits – let me say that one more time – unless it reduces deficits and does not add to deficits with reasonable and responsible growth models, and unless we can make it permanent, I don’t have any interest in it."
Translated, this means that he's going against his colleagues in a few important ways:
1) He thinks that bringing about tax reform via budget resolution is entirely the wrong way to do it because a budget resolution, unless amended, is only binding for ten years. Not only that, the ONLY thing a budget resolution does, is give authority to appropriating (in this case tax-writing) committees to spend money. The budget resolution is not a law. The law will come from the Senate Finance Committee, and THAT is the legislation they want to pass with 51 votes.
2) He agreed with Senator Feinstein's point that this process is a thinly-veiled way to jam partisan legislation through, not unlike what they did with healthcare. Let's think about it practically: We are marking up the budget for the fiscal year of 2018. We are currently on day 5 of the fiscal year of 2018. That's the first signal that this budget has nothing to do with the budget. Unless of course, they decide to pack in 11 appropriations bills - which they're not going to do. To do this would invite a shitstorm of potentially terrible legislation: ACA repeal (and all the horrible things that go along with it), massive defense spending, repealing rules, just to name a few.
3) They're going through this "process", which they didn't do earlier this year for ACA repeal, because they think it'll appease people like Corker and McCain --- Corker doesn't seem fooled. He wants tax reform, he wants all of the conservative things that we hate, but he wants the changes to be made in a bipartisan way, and he wants the changes to be permanent. This budget process will do none of that.
So I advise everyone to take what happens today in the markup with a grain of salt. They may agree on some amendments, but expect that most will be shot down. Most of the work on this will be exactly like in January: done on the floor, and more or less drawn out until they bring up the tax reform legislation and that'll be the text they move forward with. If they have the votes.
Today is the deadline to renew DACA applications. Efforts are still underway to make this program law, but the progress is slow. According to the latest numbers, approximately 48,000 recipients have not yet renewed their status. They MUST be received today, so tell folks to spend some money on getting the same-day postage.
Senator Flake has introduced the latest attempt at a compromise. You can read what little details we have here: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/05/jeff-flake-daca-dreamers-bill-243484
TRANSGENDER MILITARY BAN
BuzzFeed is reporting this morning that the administration has asked the first judge to drop the suit against it in relation to the transgender military ban. Read the article for details:
Sen. Schumer proposed yesterday that the bipartisan ACA stabilization bill should be introduced with the Senate's CHIP extension legislation. In theory, this is a good idea, but we 1) Need an agreement first, and 2) Don't know how acceptable this will be for the majority.
I have to go now and get to work. There's a lot of Russia stuff since the presser yesterday, but it's being pretty well-covered today, so I'll let that go for now.
Lindsey Graham is going to introduce his 20-week abortion ban bill today since the House passed theirs yesterday. Don't freak out - it's not going anywhere in this chamber. (Fun fact on Lindsey Graham, who has been a leading voice against women's reproductive rights: He's never been married, nor has he ever had kids. So he is, in fact, probably the LEAST qualified person on this great Hill to be telling women what to do with their bodies.)
UPDATE, 5:00 PM:
BUDGET: The Johnson amendment to provide reconciliation instructions to the HELP Committee did not make it into the tranche they're voting on. This means ACA repeal will definitely NOT be in FY18.
And...that's a wrap, folks. This is what got into the budget at the end:
Gardner 1 – DNRF* to protect Medicare and repeal IPAB
Kennedy 1 – DNRF related to work requirements
Kennedy 2 – DNRF to ensure tax reform protects middle-income tax payers
Kaine 4 – To prevent Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security from being cut in exchange for deficit-increasing tax cuts **
King 2 - To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund for legislation that relates to making the cost of child and dependent care more affordable and useful for American families.
Murray 5 - To ensure the timely and adequate provision of disaster and other assistance for relief and recovery efforts to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida, and other areas of the United States devastated by hurricanes and flooding in 2017
King 3 - To require the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to produce estimates of certain distributional effects across income categories resulting from major legislation
Harris 4 - To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to worker training programs, such as training programs that target workers that need advanced skills to progress in their current profession or apprenticeship or certificate programs that provide retraining for a new industry.
Kennedy 1 - To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to implementing work requirements in all means-tested Federal welfare programs.
* DNRF = Deficit-neutral reserve fund
** This was a surprise. We expected it to be voted down on a party-line vote, just like most of the other Dem amendments, but Corker ended up voting in favor of it. Now, we don't know if this vote had something to do with his spiel yesterday, or if he didn't know what he was voting for....because he said out loud that he didn't really know what the amendment did. Regardless, it's a good amendment to have in the budget.
In other drama, we think the GOP staff's counsel made a mistake in the original Chairman's mark (text of the budget resolution), and if we figure out what it was, we might have a BIG surprise coming. If we find it to be a non-technical mistake...meaning it's something minor that they can't correct, it could kill this whole thing before it even starts.
The Budget Committee will get a copy of the budget next week, and counsel will compare the two copies closely.