Week of May 17, 2004

For Immediate Release:

May 17, 2004

Contact:

» Please view "The Weekly Whip" for the week of May 17, 2004

» All referenced documents are bundled in a PDF here

Items you may want to do press on:

  • Democrats' Economic Agenda v. GOP's "Careers for the 21st Century/Hire Our Workers"
  • H.R. 4200 - National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2005
  • H.R. 4359 - Permanent extension of the Child Tax Credit
  • H.R. 3722, the Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments of 2004
  • Conference Report on H.Con.Res. 393 - Republican Budget Resolution for FY 2005 (possible)
Democrats' Economic Agenda v. GOP's "Careers for the 21st Century/Hire Our Workers"
 
Republicans will continue to tout their weak economic agenda, which CQ noted "has created more titles — 'Hire Our Workers,' the 'Jobs Action Team' and 'Careers for a 21st Century America' — than new legislation." [5/3/04]
 
The GOP will put on the Floor five different bills that they claim help businesses cut through red tape but actually represent a new assault on the American worker - a weakening of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the ability of OSHA to enforce workplace health and safety laws.
 
Democrats will continue to press for a positive agenda to create good jobs for American workers, including passage of a transportation bill, tax relief for domestic manufacturers, an increase in the minimum wage and an extension of federal unemployment benefits. 
 
The attached documents may be helpful in doing press on the economy next week:
  • Talking points on HOW
  • Fact sheet on HOW
  • EPI's Job Watch economic analysis and statistics
  • EPI analysis of the minimum wage
  • CBPP's analysis of the continuing need for an extension of the federal unemployment benefit
National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2005
 
After months of pressure by Democrats, led by Congressman Chet Edwards, Republicans relented and included survivor benefit provisions in the Defense Authorization bill (H.R.4200) in committee markup this past week
 
The Survivor Benefit Penalty or "Widows Tax" penalizes aging survivors of veterans by cutting one-third of the benefits for widows of military retirees once they reach age 62.  The provisions in the Defense bill would begin to reduce the penalty in FY 2006 (October 1, 2005), and completely end it over five years.
 
Democrats should let veterans know that Republicans relented only under the pressure ofDemocratic discharge petition which would have forced action on a bill to eliminate this penalty (H.R. 548) and which Republicans had let languish for more than a year. 
 
Democrats will continue to fight until the Survivor Benefit Penalty is eliminated, as well as to provide better health care, pensions, and benefits for veterans and members of the armed forces.
 
Attached are two press releases and a speech by Congressman Chet Edwards and talking points prepared by Armed Services Committee Staff which should be helpful in doing press on this important issue.
 
Permanent extension of the Child Tax Credit
 
This bill is the fourth in a series of four tax bills that the House Republicans have brought to the Floor over consecutive weeks in order to provide political cover to their marginal members.  They have openly stated to the press that they don't expect these bills to become law.
 
Once again, this is a good opportunity for Democrats to reiterate their support for fiscally responsible middle-class tax relief as we will offer a better bill, which will be fiscally responsible.
 
More details on the Republican and Democratic bills will be available next week.
 
Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments of 2004
 
Next Monday, the Republican leadership has scheduled a misguided bill, HR 3722, under Suspension of the Rules that would amend Sec. 1011 of last year's Medicare bill, which provided federal funds to reimburse physicians and hospitals for emergency health services to undocumented individuals. 
 
This bill, sponsored by Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA), would require health care providers to report undocumented patients as a condition of receiving reimbursement for emergency services to undocumented immigrants.
 
H.R. 3722 would impose new burdensome and costly requirements on hospitals, turn doctors and nurses into immigration officers and it would undermine public health care by discouraging immigrants from receiving appropriate and timely care because of fear of deportation.
   
This bill is opposed by numerous groups including: the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, the National Association of Counties, the National Council of La Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.
 
In addition, this bill is strongly opposed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
 
Conference Report on Fiscal Year 2005 Republican Budget Resolution (possible)
 
Republican infighting continues to bog down the 2005 Budget Resolution.  It appears unlikely that a conference report will come to the Floor next week.  However, Democrats should continue to talk about Republican refusal to include in the budget a real "pay-as-you-go" provision to rein in the record deficits caused by irresponsible Republican policies.
 
The Senate Budget would reinstate expired "pay-as-you-go" rules that mandate offsets for new tax cuts and entitlement spending.
 
The House Democratic Budget contained similar "pay-as-you-go" language, and Democrats offered a motion to instruct conferees to accept the Senate "pay-as-you-go" language during House passage.
 
Democrats led by Congressman Early Pomeroy (ND)offered another motion to instruct conferees this past week to accept the Senate "pay-as-you-go" language and will again next week.
 
Both House and Senate Republican Leaders refuse to support real "pay-as-you-go" and fiscally responsible policies, and want to hide from any accountability.  President Bush included "pay-as-you-go" in his first three budgets, but has now flip-flopped and opposes it.
 
A vote for the Republican Budget Conference Report will also be a vote to raise the debt limit for the third time since the Bush Administration came to office in 2001.  The debt limit was $5.9 trillion when George W. Bush took office and had not been raised in the previous four years.  Passage of this FY05 conference report will spin off a resolution to increase the debt limit by another $700 billion that will be deemed to have passed the House.  Such an action is another attempt to hide from any accountability and will result in raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion in FY05.
 
The GOP budget anticipates having to borrow trillions more in the future and eventually will increase our nation's debt to $10.4 trillion in FY09.  Last year the Republican budget anticipated a debt of $10.1 trillion in FY09 and more than $12 trillion for FY13.
 
A vote for the conference report is, in effect, a vote to increase the debt burden by $2,000 on every man, woman, and child in the United States without any honest debate or accountability.
 
The Democratic Whip Website's Budget Clearinghouse section on Fiscal Responsibility may help you in doing press on House Democratic support for  fiscal responsibility and real "pay-as-you-go," and House Republicans' refusal to seriously tackle the ballooning deficits that are threatening Social Security, Medicare and our ability to invest in America's future.