December 12th, 2013
Year end bills blitz?
Possibly. These are the top priority bills that are making their way to becoming law. There also happens to be only about two weeks left for their passing.
Here is a brief rundown provided by thehill.com.
- Water Resources Reform and Development Act
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRDA) is legislation that authorizes billions of dollars in water projects, many of which are handled by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Both the House and Senate passed bipartisan versions – the Senate by a vote of 83-14 in May and the House on a nearly unanimous vote of 417-3 in October, shortly after the federal government reopened. It would be the first WRDA reauthorization in six years.
- Farm Bill
Prospects for the completion of a five-year, $1 trillion farm bill still appear positive. The more conservative House GOP legislation cuts nearly $40 billion from food stamp programs compared to $4 billion in cuts from the Senate, on top of $11 billon that have already taken effect beginning this month.
Rank-and-file House Republicans said they were willing to give up some of the spending reductions in their bill in exchange for policy changes, such as a work requirement for welfare recipients.
- National Defense Authorization Act
Chances for a defense authorization bill in 2013 grew dimmer when Senate Democrats failed to overcome a Republican filibuster on its bill before Thanksgiving. The House passed its version in June, but there is little time left to both pass a Senate bill and reconcile it with the House before the end of the year, unless the two chambers extend their session beyond Dec. 13 or bypass the amendment process on the Senate floor. The NDAA has passed in Congress for 51 straight years, even amid the gridlock of recent years, so a resolution remains possible despite the time crunch.
What bill do you believe to be the most pressing for Congress to act upon? As always we want to hear from you!
December 11th, 2013
Are you among the millions of people all over the world paying tribute to the great Nelson Mandela?
People from all over the world paid tribute to Mr. Mandela last week and those tributes continue today. Here are just a few that we found.
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How did you pay tribute? Send it in and we may feature it on the People’s Place.
December 9th, 2013
Did you know that roughly $1.3 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits before the end of the year?
Yes, this is true if Congress does not act to extend the long term unemployment benefits. To date, Congress is finalizing the passage of a budget bill that will fund federal agencies through fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1, and avoid another government shutdown when a temporary funding measure expires in January.
But what about unemployment? President Obama utilized his national address for the topic this weekend.
What do you think about letting long term benefits expire? Do you agree or disagree?
Use the tools in our sidebar to contact your Congressional lawmakers. As always, we love hearing from you!
November 19th, 2013
Are you familiar with the term “Fab Lab”?
Last week Senators Dick Durbin and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-IL and D-NY respectively) introduced legislation, the National Fab Lab Network Act, aimed at investing in the next generation of American entrepreneurs and innovators by establishing a national network of fabrication laboratories, known as “fab labs.”
Fab labs are small, community-based workshops that give members of the public – from students to small businesses – access to educational resources and high-tech equipment that can design, develop, and create new products. U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) has championed this legislation in the House of Representatives, where he introduced a companion measure in August.
In addition to spurring innovation, fab labs are also used by science, technology, education, and math (STEM) educators to expose students to hands-on experiences that bridge design, science, and engineering disciplines through the use of advanced technology.
The National Fab Lab Network Act would grant a Federal charter to the National Fab Lab Network (NFLN). As a charter entity, NFLN would provide assistance and support to communities in the establishment of new fab labs and develop curriculum for STEM education and workforce training needs. Chartering the NFLN would help the organization raise funds, engage in public-private partnerships, and generate a high level of participation.
What do you think? Would you like to see a Fab Lab in your community? Now is the time to make sure that your state and community are involved in the discussion. Use the tools in our sidebar to help!
As always, we want to hear from you!
November 17th, 2013
A new waterways bill on the horizon?
Could be. Last week the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which would authorize about $8 billion in port, dam and flood protection projects, moved further along in the process toward becoming the law of the land. While the Senate passed its $12 billion version of the legislation in May, a conference committee has been established to form one bill.
You might be surprised to learn that the House version of the bill was passed with strong bipartisan support (224 Republican Yeas / 193 Democratic Yeas). Interesting.
According to a summary provided by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, among other things, the bill would:
- Sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies (calling cor concurrent reviews)
- Deauthorizes $12 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to WRDA 2007
- Sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs
- Reduces the inventory of properties that are not needed for the missions of the Corps
- Establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities
- Maximizes the ability of non-federal interests to contribute their own funds to move authorized studies and projects forward
- Expands the ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite the evaluation and processing of permits
- Establishes a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership ProgramImproves Competitiveness, Creates Jobs, and – Strengthens Water Resources Infrastructure
- Authorizes needed investments in America’s ports
- Supports underserved, emerging ports
- Reforms and preserves the Inland Waterways Trust Fund
- Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended to Congress by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs
Don’t just take the word of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, take a look at the bill for yourself.
Let us know what you think, and more importantly, let your lawmakers know what you think!
November 1st, 2013
Do you own a business and need more working capital?
Unless you are the CEO of Google you probably answered yes. Federal, state and local governments offer a wide range of financing programs to help small businesses start and grow their operations. These programs include low-interest loans, venture capital, and scientific and economic development grants.
Use the SBA’s Loans and Grants Search Tool to get a list of financing programs for which you may qualify, or visit the SBA.gov to learn more about small business financing.
The word is that small businesses are the economic engine of our economy. Do you agree?
November 1st, 2013
Have you signed up for healthcare through Healthcare.gov?
If so, what has your experience been like? We would love to hear from you!
October 23rd, 2013
Did your family or someone in your community benefit from the National Mortgage Settlement?
The recent announcement of the tentative $13B JP Morgan settlement with the Department of Justice, makes one ponder, exactly how will taxpayers and homeowners benefit? While the details of that deal are still being sorted, we know of the most recent program in place through which many readers may have taken advantage – the National Mortgage Settlement.
As you may recall, roughly $25 billion in relief for distressed borrowers, states and federal government was agreed upon in February 2012, by 49 state attorneys general and the federal government. It was a settlement with the country’s five largest mortgage servicers:
– Bank of America
– JPMorgan Chase
– Wells Fargo
If you filed a claim through this program, you should have received a claim check this past summer. If you haven’t, visit http://www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com/ for more information.
As the details of the J.P. Morgan settlement become available, we will be sure to keep you informed.
Did you or someone you know receive help through the National Mortgage Settlement? If you believe the federal government could have done more, use the tools in our sidebar to contact your state’s members of Congress.
Also, be sure to let us know how the conversation goes. As always, we want to hear from you!
October 10th, 2013
Is this true?
According to a recent Washington Post article, “you might as well come out and admit it”. But this is not likely the case for regular readers of the Anita Estell Blog. We’ve published many articles on the definition, need for and status of continuing resolutions over the past few years. In fact, it was even a Word of the Week, back in September of 2011. For those who missed it, you can take a look here: http://anitaestellblog.com/2011/09/word-of-the-week-continuing-resolution/.
We even took it a step further in May of 2011 and posted a video that answers many of the questions we often receive surrounding appropriations. In the video, Anita answers questions like, “what is an appropriations bill” and “what happens if no appropriations bills are passed”. If you missed it, take a look here.
What is your take on the Government Shutdown? We want to hear from you.
October 10th, 2013
Are you concerned about the effect that the new debt limit fight might have on your family’s economic security?
So is the Department of the Treasury. Last Thursday, the department released a report which forecasts the potential effect the new debt limit fight will have on financial markets here at home, and of course around the world. By looking at the disruptions to financial markets that ensued in 2011, the report examines a variety of economic indicators – including consumer and small business confidence, stock price volatility, credit risk spreads, and mortgage spreads – through which a similar episode might harm the economic expansion.
Warning of “a large, adverse, and persistent financial shock” this time around, the Treasury report highlighted the impact of lower consumer confidence, slower hiring, and increased market volatility after Congress came close to not raising the borrowing limit in 2011. “Between the second and third quarter of 2011, household wealth fell $2.4 trillion,” the department wrote. “Lower stock prices reduce retirement security – from the second to the third quarter of 2011, retirement assets fell $800 billion.”
The report states that a default has the potential to be catastrophic: credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, and U.S. interest rates could skyrocket, potentially resulting in a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse. The report also notes that if the current government shutdown is protracted, it could make the U.S. economy even more susceptible to the adverse effects from a debt ceiling impasse than it was prior to the shutdown.
For full review, take a look here.
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