Inside the budget agreement

Inside the budget agreement

The U.S. Capitol is pictured. | AP Photo
After October’s shutdown crisis, lawmakers seem most focused on the here-and-now. | AP Photo
By DAVID ROGERS | 12/11/13 8:58 AM EST

The House-Senate budget bill is 77-pages of largely modest savings but also salted with a variety of “good government” reforms that could help win votes for passage.

For example, all states would be required to use a Treasury program to crack down on fraud and over-payments in jobless benefits. New restrictions are added to better control access to Social Security data and protect against identity theft—a bipartisan cause in the House championed by conservative Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), as well as Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), chairman of his party’s caucus.

 And the agreement puts a first-time $487,000 cap on what the government will compensate contractors for the top salaries of their executives. That’s still higher than the president’s own $400,000 salary and what the White House first wanted in a proposal last spring. But it would significantly alter the current system for both defense and non-defense contractors. Continue reading “Inside the budget agreement”

US House passes two-year cross-party budget deal

BBC

US House passes two-year cross-party budget deal

US Speaker of the House John Boehner (second from left) walked to the House Chamber on 12 December 2013
US House Speaker John Boehner (second from left) had publicly supported the budget bill before the chamber’s vote on Thursday

The US House of Representatives has approved a two-year federal budget bill in a strong showing of cross-party support, further avoiding the spectre of another government shutdown.

The measure, written by the Republican and Democratic heads of the House and Senate budget committees respectively, was approved by a 332-94 vote.

The budget proposal next goes to the Democrat-led Senate for approval.

US President Barack Obama has already publicly endorsed the bill. Continue reading “US House passes two-year cross-party budget deal”

U.S. Congress poised to limit contractor pay: Is $487,000 a year enough?

U.S. Congress poised to limit contractor pay: Is $487,000 a year enough?

By Andy Sullivan 1 hour ago
A general view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington

A general view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress is poised to nearly halve the salary cap for U.S. government contractors after years of dramatic increases driven by skyrocketing executive pay.

A broad budget bill that won approval by the House of Representatives on Thursday would lower the cap to $487,000 a person, down from its current level of $952,000. The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week.

The measure would be a partial victory for the White House, which for years has sought to rein in contractor reimbursements that fund salary and other personnel costs. In May, the White House proposed limiting the reimbursement level to $400,000 a person – the amount Barack Obama earns as president.

At least 616 employees at contracting companies earned more than that last year, according to the Government Accountability Office. Continue reading “U.S. Congress poised to limit contractor pay: Is $487,000 a year enough?”

Budget peace breaks out _ after Boehner tough talk

Budget peace breaks out _ after Boehner tough talk

By DAVID ESPO 1 hour ago

Boehner Takes on the Tea Party

WASHINGTON (AP) — Battle-fatigued and suddenly bipartisan, the House voted Thursday night to ease across-the-board federal spending cuts and head off future government shutdowns, acting after Speaker John Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on tea party-aligned conservative groups campaigning for the measure’s defeat.

The legislation, backed by the White House, cleared on a vote of 332-94, with lopsided majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike voting in favor. Final passage is expected next week in the Senate.

The events in the House gave a light coating of bipartisan cooperation to the end of a bruising year of divided government — memorable for a partial government shutdown, flirtation with an unprecedented Treasury default and gridlock on immigration, gun control and other items on President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda.

Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, hailed the vote, saying it “shows Washington can and should stop governing by crisis and both sides can work together to get things done.” Continue reading “Budget peace breaks out _ after Boehner tough talk”

Dems threaten budget deal

Dems threaten budget deal

Lauren Schneiderman

By Vicki Needham, Mike Lillis and Bernie Becker – 12/11/13 05:15 PM EST

 

The budget deal worked out by House and Senate negotiators is on the verge of unraveling over the exclusion of federal unemployment benefits, several leading Democrats warned Wednesday.

The lawmakers are outraged by a GOP move to add the Medicare “doc fix” to the package but not a continuation of unemployment benefits — a strategy they say could sink the entire package by scaring away Democratic votes.

Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Sandy Levin (Mich.) said the move creates a “new dynamic” undermining Democratic support for the plan announced Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).  Continue reading “Dems threaten budget deal”