POPVOX Weekly Update

Hi POPVOX user,

From our Hill Sources:  It’s the last week of the year for Congress, and it will likely bring final passage of a budget and a defense authorization bill in the Senate. The House is out for the rest of the year. (Link to this Update online.)

The Budget

After House and Senate budget leaders announced a bipartisan Budget Deallast week, the House quickly passed it in an easy 332-94 vote. That sets up what’s likely to be an equally easy vote in the Senate on Tuesday. (Weigh in.)

The Scoop from our Hill Sources: 

  • The budget deal is a tradeoff for both parties. For Democrats, the budget doesn’t allow for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, but it does include new revenues, in the form of various fees. For Republicans, the budget deal doesn’t include entitlements, but it avoids an income tax hike, and it cuts the budget deficit further than if no deal had been reached.
  • It also restores $63 billion in spending that was due to be cut by the sequester, something that will put most members of both parties at ease. While deficit hawk Republicans oppose the deal for this reason, many other Republicans had clearly become uneasy with the idea of another round of cuts across all discretionary accounts in the government, which includes defense.

The National Defense Authorization Act

The Senate should be in a position to pass this new version of the NDAA, which the House approved last week. (Read bill text.)

The Scoop from our Hill Sources: 

  • The House-passed bill authorizes $607 billion in defense spending for 2014, and finds compromise on issues like sexual assault in the military and Guantanamo Bay detainees that House and Senate negotiators worked out over the last few weeks. It does not, however, include any tougher language onIran sanctions. Members of both parties had called for some sanctions language in order to send the message that Congress does approve of easing sanctions against Iran.
  • The bill the Senate will consider is an amended version of HR 3304, the original House NDAA. Members agreed to pass a new version that reflects House and Senate compromises after a fight in the Senate over amendments stalled the bill in the upper chamber.

Also in the Senate

Aside from these bills, the Senate will deal with several nominations, including Jeh Johnson to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security and Janet Yellen to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve Board. The Senate is not expected to pass the30-day extension of the farm bill that passed the House last week, HR 3695.Senate Democrats have said an extension is not needed.

Issue Spotlight: Firearms and Gun Control Legislation

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. It’s unclear whether Congress will vote on further gun control legislation in the coming year — but it did pass a ten-year extension on the ban on undetectable firearms. Meanwhile, the Administration has issued 25 executive actions related to firearms. And President Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said this week that the Administration will “continue to press Congress to take action.”Weigh in on firearms and gun control legislation pending before Congress in this Issue Spotlight.

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