No one really tried to avert the sequester, the House of Representatives travels in style, and something good actually happened this week in Congress.
Here is a rundown of what kind of effort each division of Congress put forth to try to avert the sequester.
Senate Democrats offered S. 388: The American Family Economic Protection Act of 2013
- Freezes the sequester, keeping the budget the same for 2013.
- Lowers the spending caps from the Budget Control Act, totaling $39 billion in future spending (not a cut)
- Eliminates direct payments to farmers for peanuts, sugarcane, and sugar beets
- Protects other agricultural programs by making them mandatory spending, extending their funding, or exempting them from sequestration.
- Increases taxes on earnings over $1,000,000 to 30% starting in 2014
- Eliminates tax deductions for business expenses relating to moving a business out of the United States
- Defines bitumen products (tar sands) as oil so that it can be taxed as oil
This bill failed to pass the Senate; Republicans don’t like it.
Senate Republicans offered S. 16: Sequester Replacement
- Gives the President until March 15th to create a sequester replacement plan
- Caps defense cuts at $42.7 billion
- Prohibits amendments to the the President’s bill when it comes up for a vote in Congress
- Enacts the President’s cuts if there is no Congressional vote of disapproval
This bill failed to pass the Senate; Senators were uncomfortable giving the President the authority to do Congress’ job.
House Democrats wanted to vote on H.R. 699: The Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act
- Cancels the 2013 sequester
- Repeals a 2% sequester cut to veteran’s medical care
- Eliminates direct payments to farmers for wheat, corn, barley, oats, cotton, long grain rice, medium grain rice, soybeans, and peanuts.
- Eliminates tax deductions for oil and natural gas companies
- Increases taxes on earnings over $1,000,000 to 30% starting in 2014.
The House Republicans leadership wouldn’t allow this bill to come up for a vote.
House Republicans… did nothing.
House Committee Travel Report, Oct 1 – Dec 31 2012
Examples of airfare we paid to send our Representatives on trips:
$15,037 to send Todd Platts (R-PA) to India/Afghanistan for 4 days. Orbitz: $6,800
$19,743 to send Steven Pearce (R-NM) to Egypt/England for 4 days. Orbitz: $3,400
We paid similar costs per person for him to bring along 3 staff members.
$8,023 to send Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on a weekend trip to Germany. Staff member on same trip flew for $1,821.
$10,200 each for Robert Wittman (R-VA), Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam delegate) and two staff members to spend 3 days in Taiwan and Japan. Orbitz: $1,900 per person.
$13,575 for Bill Flores (R-TX) to go on the same trip on the same days
$21,063 to fly Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to Afghanistan for a day. Orbitz: $8,800. Military transportation: Free.
Total spent on House of Representatives travel in 3 months: $855,743.25
Good News: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Passes Congress
… Despite an attempt by House Republicans to eliminate protections for lesbians, immigrants, Native Americans, and college students.