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Senate OKs Bill to Avert Shutdown September 27, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

After a heated battle between Dems and GOP over disaster aid, the Senate votes to send a temporary spending bill to the House to avoid a government shutdown.

The vote in the Senate was 79 to 12 to fund the government through Nov. 18, giving the two sides more time to haggle over long-term spending levels. The Senate also approved an even shorter-term spending bill — funding the government into next week — by a voice vote to give the House time to reconvene and approve the followup.

The breakthrough came hours after the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicated it had enough money for disaster relief efforts through Friday. That disclosure allowed lawmakers to jettison a $1 billion replenishment that had been included in the measure — and to crack the gridlock it had caused.

The events assured there would be no interruption in assistance in areas battered by disasters such as Hurricane Irene and last summer’s tornados in Joplin, Mo., and also that the government would be able to run normally when the new budget year begins on Saturday.

The agreement also spelled the end to the latest in a string of political standoffs between Democrats and Republicans over deficits, spending and taxes that have rattled financial markets and coincided with polls showing congressional approval ratings at historically low levels.

“This compromise should satisfy Republicans…and it should satisfy Democrats,” said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, who added that Budget Director Jacob Lew had informed him that FEMA did not need any additional funding to meet its needs for the final few days of the budget year.

“It’s a win for everyone,” Reid declared.

House Speaker John Boehner’s office argued that the GOP was never opposed to disaster aid, just the process for approving the aid.

“Senate Democrats have conceded that the spending level in the House-passed bill was the most responsible solution,” Boehner spokesman Mike Steel said in a written statement. “If it weren’t for House GOP efforts, the American taxpayers would have been on the hook for even more reckless borrowing by Washington Democrats.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the latest legislation was a “reasonable way to keep the government operational.”

But not even the dispute-resolving agreement prevented Democrats from proceeding to a politically charged vote earlier in the evening that was designed to force Republicans to decide whether immediate aid to disaster victims or deficit concerns held a higher priority.

And the rhetoric was far harsher during the day on the Senate floor, when Mary Landrieu, D-La., unleashed an unusually personal attack on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., saying the weeks-long controversy started when he said, “Before we can provide help we need to find offsets in the budget.”

She called that “the Cantor doctrine” and said the controversy “could have been avoided if Cantor had just said, `I’m sorry, but I made a mistake.’ But instead of saying that, he doubled down,” she said.

Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Cantor, responded that the Virginia Republican had “never said the things she alleged, he has only suggested that we ought to provide disaster aid dollars to those who need them in a responsible way — something that she’s voted to block despite the urgent need.”

In fact, House Republicans insisted that any new disaster aid for the expiring budget year be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget, a decision that Democrats seized on in hopes of reshaping the political terrain to their advantage.

Hours earlier, FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen, said the agency had $114 million left in its disaster relief fund, enough to last until Thursday or Friday, the final business day of the current budget year. She said the exact timing would depend on the number of emergency victims who apply for aid, and whether any new disasters occur.

FEMA officials had said previously the funds would run out early this week. That concern prompted the Obama administration a few weeks ago to ask Congress to approve a replenishment to tide the agency over through the Sept. 30 end to the fiscal year.

House Republicans agreed weeks ago to provide $1 billion and include the money in a bill that also provides money for most federal agencies for the first few weeks of the 2012 budget year. At the same time, they insisted on cutting spending elsewhere in the budget by $1.5 billion to prevent the deficit from rising, an amount later raised to $1.6 billion.

That, in turn, produced a quick attack from Senate Democrats, who opposed cuts.

While it was unclear precisely how long FEMA’s remaining funds would last, one official said the agency began conserving funds last month as Hurricane Irene approached the U.S. mainland, prioritizing its aid to help individual disaster victims and pay states and local governments for immediate needs such as removing debris and building sand bag barricades.

Funding of $450 million has been put on hold for longer-term needs such as reconstruction of damaged roads, the official said. In addition, the agency has been able to reclaim unused money from past disasters, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing lack of authority to discuss the matter publicly.

Muslims and Amish May Opt Out Of Obamacare free of any Penalties April 6, 2010

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

by randyedye

EXEMPTIONS FROM INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS.

-In the case of an individual who is seeking an exemption certificate under section 1311(d)(4)(H) from any requirement or penalty imposed by section 5000A, the following information:

In the case of an individual seeking exemption based on the individual’s status as a member of an exempt religious sect or division, as a member of a health care sharing ministry, as an Indian, or as an individual eligible for a hardship exemption, such information as the Secretary shall prescribe.”

Senate Bill, H.R. 3590, pages 273-274

There are several reasons why an individual could claim exemption, being a member of a religion that does not believe in insurance is one of them. Islam is one of those religions. Muslims believe that health insurance is “haraam”, or forbidden; because they liken the ambiguity and probability of insurance to gambling. This belief excludes them from any of the requirements, mandates, or penalties set forth in the bill. More…

This means that if you are Christian and abortion is against your religion tough luck.

If you are Jewish tough luck as well.

We wonder why these certain groups get a free ride. We also wonder why the largest religious block in North and South America the Christians are discriminated against like this. Very odd indeed.

There is a lot of food for thought here and a lot of ways to object to this healthcare bill isn’t there.

Dems Agreed To Skip Ahead And Bypass Process To Ram Health Care Plan Through January 11, 2010

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

House and Senate leaders have formally agreed to bypass a bicameral conference committee to merge two healthcare bills, and have opted to instead “ping-pong” the Senate bill over to the House and back again, according to House leadership aides.

Aides said the agreement was reached during a Tuesday evening meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the top two Democrats from each chamber.

The Senate bill will serve as the vehicle by which Democrats hope to send a healthcare bill to Obama to sign into law. Under the “ping-pong” strategy, the House will take up the Senate bill and amend it, then send it back to the Senate for final approval.

The decision was made to scrap a conference committee out of concern that Republicans in both the House and the Senate would employ a series of procedural delaying tactics, only serving to delay the inevitable and frustrate the majority, aides said.

But additional concerns had emerged by Tuesday afternoon that presented a host of new hurdles in the way of a painless formal conference committee.

On Tuesday, C-SPAN sent a letter to Democratic leaders requesting that they be permitted to film and broadcast live those conference negotiations. Many of the last-minute agreements paving the way for passage of each bill – especially in the Senate – were made behind closed doors and announced only after they had been reached.

The absence of a gathering of named conferees to work out House and Senate differences would seem to make moot the question of whether or not C-SPAN will be allowed to cover those negotiations.

By the time C-SPAN made its request, though, the conventional wisdom beginning to take root was that House leaders would have little choice but to accept most of what won a bare minimum 60 Senate votes last month.

That would mean the House’s acceptance of a bill without a government-run public health insurance option to directly compete with private insurers – an end result that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday hinted was inevitable.

Other issues – such as differences in language prohibiting federal dollars from paying for abortion coverage, and tax provisions designed to raise revenue to pay for the bill – will still need to win consensus in one or the other chamber.  And where Pelosi signaled an acceptance of the Senate’s approach to the mechanism for providing coverage to millions of Americans, she signaled just as strongly that she much prefers the House’s tax structure, which increases income taxes on the wealthiest Americans in lieu of levying taxes on high-cost insurance plans, as the Senate’s bill does.

Congressional aides also said that Obama told House and Senate leaders that he wanted to strengthen the affordability measures beyond those in the Senate bill, a signal that House Democrats interpreted to mean that Obama will urge the Senate to warm up to the House’s more generous and more widely available – but also more expensive – subsidies designed to help Americans afford health insurance that will be newly mandated.

After huddling among themselves at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, House leaders will return to the White House for a 2:30 p.m. meeting with the president and Senate Democratic leaders.