As Washington battens down the hatches for a major storm dubbed the “snowquester,” the House on Wednesday will vote a day earlier than expected on the GOP's stopgap spending bill that keeps the government funded through the end of September.
The GOP’s $982 billion continuing resolution includes the $85 billion of sequestration cuts, but shifts $10.4 billion into the Pentagon's budget to cushion the blow of the sequester. It also contains several other provisions meant to reduce the effects of sequestration on the domestic side, including maintaining staffing levels for border patrol agents and maintaining funding for FEMA.
Senate Democrats signaled yesterday they will accept the spending levels of the House bill, but tack on several amendments to further cushion the blow of the sequester cuts to government agencies on the domestic side.
The vote is expected at 1 p.m. and Congress will leave town shortly after, cancelling all other business for the rest of the week. - Read more at The Hill
RYAN WALKS BACK MEDICARE PROPOSAL House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., altered his budget framework Tuesday to exempt seniors 55 years and older from his Medicare overhaul plan, after receiving harsh criticism within his own party for trying to make cuts to current seniors. Many GOP lawmakers, including Ryan, pledged in the last election not to make Medicare cuts for current seniors. - Read more at Politico
SEQUESTER HINDERS HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS Sequestration apparently is being felt all around the world. In the wake of the sequester cuts that took effect midnight Friday, there will be $150 million less in humanitarian relief for some of the most vulnerable people on Earth. This funding goes toward disaster relief, basic education and food security programs in undeveloped countries overseas. The sequester also removes $433 million in State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development public health spending, including $211.6 million for the AIDS relief program PEPFAR. - Read more at The Atlantic
U.S. GIVES UP ON $266 MILLION AFGHANISTAN DAM PROJECT “The decision by the United States Agency for International Development to scrap the completion of a dam project meant to supply electricity to Kandahar is the latest and perhaps largest failure of the United States to use development dollars to create stability by building Afghan infrastructure,” The Fiscal Times’ David Francis reports.
- Read more at The Fiscal Times
REPORT: MAJOR WEAKNESS IN AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION EFFORT A new report released by the Special Inspector of Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) shows the U.S. has made minimal progress in oversight improvements, and has lost more than $ 8 billion to waste, fraud and abuse. The report this week warns that the government's failure to enact substantive safeguards and contractor oversight poses a "strategic national-security weakness" for the U.S. - Read the report here