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Washington Watch - September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Senate Approves Bill To Avoid Government Shutdown

On Monday evening, Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a compromise on a disaster relief bill in a 79 to 12 vote, most certainly averting a government shutdown. The Senate also agreed by voice vote on a stopgap measure to allow House Republicans to take their time deliberating a response after returning from the Rosh Hashanah holiday week. 

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had been under immense pressure over the weekend to convince Republicans in the Senate to compromise after House Republicans passed their own competing bill on Friday. The Senate-passed bill took away much of the disaster relief funds Democrats sought while also stripping away spending cuts Republicans demanded. 

The unexpected partisanship brinkmanship arose when FEMA asked for more funds amid this summer’s Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene. FEMA’s later announcement that it could continue to make payments until after the end of the fiscal year – Friday – paved the way for the Senate’s disaster relief and stopgap measures.

The Senate-approved bill now heads to the House for consideration. The House is expected to address the measure Thursday.


Obama’s Regulatory Chief Testifies In Front of Small Biz Committee

Cass R. Sunstein, the Obama administration’s point man for regulatory affairs, testified in front of the House Committee on Small Business on Sept. 21st regarding Executive Order 13563.

The order, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, was announced in January by the Obama administration and is meant to eliminate unjustified regulatory costs. Sunstein said that since the order, much progress has been made and that the more than 500 initiatives undertaken will save over $6 billion over the next five years.  

Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and other Republicans said that complexity of regulations impose serious burdens on small businesses. At one point, when Graves and Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) questioned Sunstein’s commitment to reduce regulatory burdens, Sunstein invited small businesses and members of Congress to contact his office about specific issues. However, Sunstein did say the current administration is doing a better job on regulations than the previous. 

Learn more about the hearing here


Study: Credit Unions Bridge Financing Gap

According to a study released by the SBA Office of Advocacy, even during the financial crisis, credit unions may have provided some extra business lending in response to the reductions in bank business lending. While credit unions partly offset changes in business lending by banks, the findings also show that these effects have not been consistent over time. To the extent that increased credit union supply of business credit has and will offset reductions in bank loan supply, credit unions can help small businesses and reduce the cyclicality of their local economies.

Read study highlights here.


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