Weekly Washington Outlook – August 11, 2014

U.S. Capitol

What to Watch This Week:


The House and Senate are in recess, returning the week of September 8.

White House:

The president will remain at Martha’s Vineyard through Sunday, August 17, and has a limited public schedule during this time.

On Monday August 11, the president will attend a DSCC event at a private residence in Tisbury, Massachusetts.

September Schedule:

House – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a memo to House members Friday outlining what they should expect in the September work period:

Jobs and Economic Growth– While the president likes to tout improving jobs numbers, the truth is that record numbers of Americans are being forced into temporary or part-time employment, with most of the so-called “growth” coming in the form of lower-wage jobs. Meanwhile, House Republicans have sent more than 40 bills to the Senate that would foster a true recovery that gets Americans back to work in good-paying jobs (for a complete list, see: http://www.speaker.gov/jobs). These bills would reduce the regulatory burdens that are suffocating job growth, help small businesses access capital, and make permanent a series of tax provisions that will grow our economy. Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats in the Senate have ignored these common-sense jobs bills. To increase pressure on Harry Reid to finally put American workers and economic growth first, we will send the Senate a single package of our jobs bills. I want to thank the Members who have suggested this approach to attempt to break the logjam in the Senate and draw more attention with Americans across the country to our solutions.

Lowering Costs on Gas and Groceries – When President Obama took office, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline was $1.85; now, it is $3.52. If you put 10 gallons in your tank, that is an extra $16! Now think what gas prices could have been had we adopted a common-sense energy policy. What if oil production on federal land had grown just as it did on private land (between 2009 and 2013, oil production on federal lands fell 6 percent while it increased by 61 percent on state and private lands)? I urge you to talk to families and businesses about how higher energy prices have impacted them and what they might be able to do (afford a night out, hire a new employee, etc.) if we had a sensible energy policy. House Republicans have sent numerous energy bills to the Senate. It is time to hold Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats accountable for their refusal to support lower energy prices and American job creation.  That is why we will also send a consolidated energy package to the Senate in September that will, among other things, open federal lands, support the Keystone XL pipeline, and prevent environmental regulations that are killing American-made energy.

Healthcare– President Obama and his fellow Democrats promised that under Obamacare, if you liked your health plan, you could keep it. But last year, millions of Americans in the individual insurance market found out that wasn’t true. They lost access to the plans they had and in many cases had to pay much higher premiums. In fact, premiums increased by 40 percent on average nationwide from 2013 to 2014. Many small businesses were able to avoid losing access to their plans and facing higher premiums last year because they were able to renew their old plans early. For many small businesses, that will not be possible this year. A recent non-partisan government analysis found that two-thirds of all small businesses will face increases in monthly premiums – affecting 11 million Americans – as a direct result of the law. The Energy & Commerce Committee has reported a bill to allow those who purchase health care on the group market to keep the plans they had – just as the President promised. I would encourage you to speak to small businesses in your district during the month of August to collect first-hand stories to share with the Conference on what devastating consequences Obamacare has had for small businesses and their employees.

Senate – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has also outlined, although in less detail, several contenders for floor consideration during the September work period.  In addition to funding the government and continuing to confirm the President’s nominations, the Senate may bring up a constitutional amendment on campaign finance from Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.