Lawmakers returned to Washington this week for a lame duck session of Congress. The Democratic Majority scheduled a two-week session to complete legislative action on expiring programs prior to the end of the 111th Congress, and to organize leadership and committee assignments with newly elected members for the 112th Congress.
The legislative to-do list includes passing an omnibus appropriations bill or extending funding for the federal government prior to the December 3 expiration of the current continuing resolution, addressing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, adjusting the alternative minimum tax set to impact 27 million households, and permanently fixing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for Medicare physician reimbursements, commonly referred to as the “doc fix.”
The federal government is operating under a continuing resolution funding federal agencies at their current levels. The Democratic leadership’s failure to sensibly construct a budget resolution threatens job creation, explodes spending and deficits, and intensifies America’s debt crisis. To boot, every American is scheduled to experience a tax increase on January 1, 2011. Republicans believe that Congress can reenergize the economy by freezing all tax rates for two years.
Medicare recipients and physicians who care for these beneficiaries have become innocent victims of the “doc fix” debacle. On June 24, 2010, I voted in support of legislation that delayed cuts to physicians’ reimbursements from Medicare for six months and provided a 2.2 percent increase in Medicare reimbursements until November 30, 2010. While this legislation is only a patch, I am proud that this $6.4 billion bill was fully paid-for. I am committed to resolving this issue and I will push for a permanent, budget-neutral solution to the SGR formula.
Two additional items have been mentioned for potential House floor action: a bill providing a one-time $250 payment for Social Security beneficiaries and the DREAM Act, which would give permanent resident status to certain illegal aliens.
I believe that Congress should revisit the formula used to determine a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for America’s seniors. This is why I am an original co-sponsor of the “CPI for Seniors Act,” which would establish a new Consumer Price Index for Seniors (CPI-S) that more accurately reflects the costs incurred by older Americans.
The DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that have been admitted to an institution of higher learning in the United States or have a high school or equivalent diploma. I oppose granting amnesty to illegal aliens, and I oppose this bill.
Republicans recognize that a lame duck session may be necessary, as it often is in an election year, in order to temporarily extend funding of the federal government. But, we are united in opposition to seeing such a session used to push through significant policy changes that the majority in the new Congress would oppose.
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