|June 9, 2008
Federal Update for Period Ending June 6, 2008
Here is the latest bi-weekly update on activity in our Nation’s Capital from the federal relations staff of the National League of Cities (NLC). After a week off for the Memorial Day recess, Congress returned last week and focused on the Congressional Budget Resolution and climate change legislation. The Resolution was approved, but the climate change legislation failed to get the votes to advance.
This week, the House will focus on Amtrak reauthorization and the supplemental war spending bill, and the Senate is expected to begin considering legislation to extend various tax breaks for individuals and businesses.
Regarding our priorities, appropriations legislation may be considered, and we continue to be engaged in discussions with leadership to advance housing market stabilization legislation.
Senate Ends Debate Early on Climate Change Legislation
After three days of debate on a comprehensive climate change proposal that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Senate failed to invoke cloture to end debate by a vote of 48-36. On Wednesday, opponents to the legislation stalled action by calling for a full reading of the nearly 500-page bill, a process that took nine hours. Debate ended without any discussion or votes on many of the expected amendments. The legislation included funding for NLC legislative priorities, including $136 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, $171 billion to support mass transit, and tax relief for the energy needs of low-income consumers. The current legislative language will likely serve as a starting point for next year’s debate.
Join Building America's Future Coalition
Building America’s Future, a coalition founded by Pennsylvania Governor and former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, continues to call upon local government officials to join this national effort to “create an environment where infrastructure is treated as a national priority.” According to the coalition’s website, “In the short term, the Coalition will work with the presidential candidates and the platform committees of the national political parties to ensure that the next president understands the enormity of the infrastructure crisis, is committed to increasing federal funding, and that both party platforms reflect these commitments. The Coalition will be made up of elected officials throughout the country serving in elected executive and legislative roles at the state and local levels of government. We will work closely with associations that represent these officials, like the National Governors Association, the US Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the National Association of County Officials, the National Conference of State Legislators, and the Council of State Governments.” Officials can go to http://investininfrastructure.org to learn more about and join the coalition.
Congress Passes Budget Resolution, Appropriations Delays Still Expected
Congress took the first step in the annual federal funding process by passing the Congressional Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2009 (S. Con.Res. 70). The budget resolution, which is drafted by the majority party, does not become law but spells out the parameters for spending and tax bills and sets an overall spending cap for the 12 annual appropriations bills. The budget resolution passed the Senate by a vote of 46-45 and the House by a vote of 214-210, largely along party lines. It calls for $24.5 billion more in fiscal year 2009 discretionary spending than the $991.6 billion the President requested The budget resolution rejects the President’s recommended cuts to several programs important to cities, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), the Byrne State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant Program, and the COPS program. The next step in the federal funding process, consideration of the 12 annual appropriations bills, is just beginning. Although the budget resolution would allow Congress to fund programs above the President’s recommendation, President Bush has threatened to veto any appropriations bills that exceed his request. As a result, leaders in the House and Senate have acknowledged that action on the fiscal year 2009 spending bills will likely be delayed until after the next President is elected.
If you have any questions about any of these issues, or our federal relations work in general, please call Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.