Washington / Federal Affairs
April 18, 2008
- Senators Introduce Tax Extenders Measure
- House Ways & Means Committee Clears Extended Unemployment Benefits Bill
- Senator Calls for More Transparency in Nanotech Initiative
- Ex-Senate Leaders Taking on Healthcare Reform
Senators Introduce Tax Extenders Measure
- After much discussion, Senate Finance Chairman Baucus and ranking member Grassley introduced a $100 billion+ bill to extend tax breaks that have expired or will expire this year, including an increase in the alternative minimum tax exemption for 2008 and a two year extension of the research and development credit. The measure also extends a series of renewable energy incentives, the state sales tax deduction and a qualified tuition deduction, among others.
House Ways & Means Committee Clears Extended Unemployment Benefits Bill
- The House Ways & Means Committee adopted a bill to extend jobless benefits to unemployed workers an additional 13 weeks and an additional 13 weeks in states where the unemployment rate exceeds 6 percent. Negotiations were still under way with House and Senate leaders on whether to incorporate the bill in a must-pass war funding bill likely to come to the floor next month. Attaching to the war funding bill would allow the bill to skirt "pay-go" rules that could require offsets to pay for the $12 billion in the federal unemployment compensation trust fund that the bill would cost.
Senator Calls for More Transparency in Nanotech Initiative
- The federal government's $1.5 billion nanotechnology initiative should pay more attention to environmental, health and safety research and describe its work more clearly to the public, according to House Science Chairman Bart Gordon. Gordon made his comments as his panel was considering a draft reauthorization bill to allocate 10 percent of the National Nanotechnology Initiative's research budget to environmental issues, health and safety. The five-year old initiative, which is funded by 13 agencies, has acknowledged the importance of risk-reduction activities but has been slow to put in place a "well designed, adequately funded and effectively executed research program," according to Gordon.
Ex-Senate Leaders Taking on Healthcare Reform
- Four former Senate majority leaders are teaming up to develop recommendations for Congress on reforming the nation's healthcare system, announced at a news conference hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center. The senators will each oversee forums on four pillars for reform: improving quality and value, improving access, ensuring a strong role for consumers, and finding a way to finance it. Former senators Dole, Mitchell, Daschle and Baker will wait until after the presidential election to make their recommendations.