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September 27
House Leaders Continue Work on Debt Ceiling Legislation

House majority leaders have been working to unveil a new measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 5, 2014, but concern among House leaders about garnering enough votes for the measure has delayed such a vote until at least next week. The $16.7 trillion debt ceiling is expected to be reached around October 17 of this year. The House measure would include a slew of program changes and legislative initiatives affecting counties. While exact legislative details were not available at press time, three programs of interest to counties were reported to be cut or eliminated:

  • Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals (DSH) payments would be cut by $4 billion
  • The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program would be eliminated
  • The Prevention and Public Health Fund would be eliminated

The measure is expected to contain principles to guide future tax reform efforts as well as fast track authority for expedited consideration of any reform legislation. The principles will likely be similar to those previously outlined in the FY2014 Budget Proposal released by House Budget Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Some of the principles anticipated are consolidation of current income tax brackets with the goal of a top individual rate of 25 percent, repeal of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), reduction of the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and reform of the current system of foreign taxation to increase international competitiveness.

The measure may also include a one-year delay in implementation of the Affordable Care Act, language to force the Administration to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline and changes to Medicare that could include means-testing.

Finally, the bill is also expected to include provisions to curb regulations. One provision would be the House-passed Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act). The REINS Act essentially grants Congress the final say over major regulations from the Administration.The definition of major regulations is revised to mean any rule that has resulted in or is likely to result in an annual effect on the economy of $50 million or more; that is made by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and would have a significant impact on a substantial number of agricultural entities; that implements or provides for the imposition or collection of a carbon tax; or is made under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Neither the Senate majority nor the President are expected to agree to a debt ceiling measure that includes the above-mentioned provisions. Nonetheless, it is clear that DSH, SSBG and the prevention health fund are extremely vulnerable. County officials are urged to contact their members of Congress about the importance of these programs to local governments.

Contact: Marilina Sanz at msanz@naco.org or 202.942.4260​​

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