Washington Watch - July 16, 2014


Washington Watch - July 16, 2014

Senate and House Authorize Differing Funding Plans for Highway Trust Fund

On June 15, 2014, the House passed H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, providing temporary funding for the highway trust fund, which is currently nearing depletion. The bill was sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman David Camp and raises funds for the Highway Trust Fund through pension smoothing and an increase to customs user fees.

In the Senate, Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch of the Finance Committee have negotiated terms of their own legislative patch to fund the highway trust fund, Preserving America's Transit and Highway (PATH) Act of 2014. The PATH Act would, like the House bill, raise funds through pension smoothing and an increase to the customs user fees but would also include other revenue raising changes to the tax code. The PATH Act was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee on Friday, July 11, but passage from the full Senate is unlikely.

It is anticipated that the Senate will take-up the House bill and pass it as a stop gap measure, allowing for the Senate language to garner more support. President Obama has signaled that while he would prefer a long-term solution he will sign the House version into law.

Economy Shrinks 2.9%

The gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 2.9%, the largest since 2011 first quarter. Economist initially thought the drop in GDP was a modest 1% but recent date analyzed by the US Department of Commerce and Labor revised the number. Several factors are being blamed for the contraction: weather, low inventory of goods (specifically new homes), and the affordable care act.

While the economic news is cause for broader concern, it is especially troubling news for America’s smallest businesses who will feel the contraction much more deeply. However, economists are optimistic that several other economic indicators are improving, specifically the decline in unemployment claims.

WSJ: U.S. Economy Shrinks by Most in Five Years

Bloomberg: U.S. Economy Shrinks for First Time Since 2011; Pent Demand Suggests Temporary Setback

NASE to Participate in HHS Town Hall with Secretary Burwell

NASE Vice- President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, Katie Vlietstra, will attend a stakeholder meeting at the Department of Health and Human Services on July 17th. This will be the first time NASE and key advocacy organizations will interact with Secretary Burwell, the new secretary of HHS. Key information regarding the 2015 open enrolment period for both state-based and federal exchanges will be shared, along with information regarding the delayed roll-out of the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP). We look forward to including the voice of self-employed in this meeting.

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Courtesy of NASE.org