Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 5618, Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act
Annualized Cost: $16.52 billion ($33.04 billion over two years)
Representative Jim McDermott (WA-7) sponsored H.R. 5618 to retroactively restore federal emergency unemployment benefits, which ended in June, through November. McDermott reports nearly two million families will be affected if their unemployment insurance expires or remains expired.
The act also includes a requirement that state governments not reduce their own unemployment payments in order to qualify for federal funds as well as a provision preventing recipients from being cut from state-based benefits if they have intermittent earnings.
According to a CBO estimate, the cost of H.R. 5618 would be spread over two years, with most spending coming in FY 2011 at almost $25 billion.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 5439, To require that United States contributions to the fund established by the United States and Brazil to provide technical assistance and capacity building be offset by reductions in direct payments for cotton producers under the Farm Bill
Annualized Savings: $147 million (first-year savings)
After the 2008 Farm Bill passed, the US and Brazil entered into negotiations with the World Trade Organization over subsidies awarded to American cotton farmers. Brazil claimed the subsidies were a violation of free-trade agreements. After an agreement was made between the two nations, the US maintained the subsidies but pledged to provide technical assistance funds to toal $147 million annually Brazilian farmers as a compromise. H.R. 5439 calls for offsetting cuts in the technical assistance fund for Brazil with cuts in direct US cotton subsidies.
In a bipartisan letter to President Obama, bill sponsor Jeff Flake (AZ-6)and his colleagues Barney Frank (MA- 4), Ron Kind (WI-3), and Paul Ryan (WI-1) explain that the program “distorts the marketplace and is fiscally irresponsible.” The Representatives call for a reform of the US cotton program now, rather than in 2012 when the Farm Bill expires, to get the US on a better financial footing, while keeping trade policy WTO compliant.
The Bill: S. 3295/H.R. 5175, Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act
Number of cosponsors: 49 Senators and 114 Congressmen
The 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) voided certain restrictions on federal campaign contributions made by citizens, organizations, and corporations in early 2010. In response, Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) and Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) sponsored legislation to reestablish and add to those regulations as well as require more disclosure from corporations. The DISCLOSE Act also sets new contribution limitations on certain types of corporations. If a company is 20% or more foreign controlled, receiving over $50,000 in government contracts, or have received and not repaid TARP funds, they cannot contribute to campaigns.
Schumer states, “If we don’t act quickly to confront this ruling, we will have let the Supreme Court predetermine the outcome of next November’s elections. It won’t be Republicans or Democrats; it will be Corporate America and other special interests.” However, columnist George Will counters the bill “is a compendium of burdensome regulations and mandates designed to largely nullify the court’s ruling for corporations. It leaves unions largely free to continue spending on behalf of Democrats.”
The DISCLOSE Act would have an annualized of cost $2 million for each of the next five fiscal years. Funds would principally go to covering additional administrative costs for FEC information systems and compliance enforcement.
Cosponsors are currently all Democrats and are from different geographic areas.
The Bill: S. 3084, Export Promotion Act
Annualized Cost: $50 million ($248 million over five years)
Sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), the Export Promotion Act expands both the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Technology Innovation Programs by increasing the number of businesses seeking to enter international markets. The Department of Commerce would receive more funds to issue and process small and mid-sized business applications relating to technology transfers, technical assistance, and partnerships between public and private entities.
A majority of the funds would go toward hiring about 210 additional Department of Commerce employees to promote participation of US firms in foreign markets.
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