Unlike just about all other federal employees, the salaries for members of Congress ($174,00) and the President ($400,000) are paid from permanent mandatory spending accounts that are not subject to annual renewal from Congress. They are, by law, effectively exempted from shutdowns. In case you're wondering who decided that Congress's pay should be immune to Congress failing to fund the government, the answers is, of course …Congress! Funny how that works.
With a government shutdown now looking very likely in early March, some members of Congress want to end their special salary protections. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] in the Senate and James Moran [D, VA] in the House have introduced legislation that would deny basic pay to Congress and the President if there is a more than 24-hour lapse in government funding as a result of a failure to enact appropriations bills or if the statutory debt limit is reached because is was not increased in time.Read Full Article
Remember last week when Senate Republicans filibustered beginning debate of the financial reform bill three times in three days over objections to a liquidation fund that they said would be used in the future for bailouts? Well, the fund was officially removed on Wednesday by a an overwhelming vote of 93-5. That makes everyone happy -- the Republicans who called it a bailout, the banks who didn't want to pay into it, and the Democrats who didn't really care much about it and would rather have Republican cooperation.Read Full Article
The first amendment the Senate will vote on tomorrow when they start voting on amendments to the financial reform bill will be one from Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] that seeks to ensure that the government will liquidate failing financial firms rather than bailing them out with taxpayer money. If any amendment is going to get wide bipartisan support, it will be this one.Read Full Article
Included in the various unemployment benefits that expired this week thanks to Congressional inaction is a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA health insurance. But even with this subsidy in place, there are still millions of Americans, both unmarried opposite-sex couples and unable-to-be-married same sex couples, that can't purchase COBRA insurance in the first place. A bill introduced last month by Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] aims to change this.Read Full Article
Two Senate Democrats are throwing another log on the now-annual firestorm over excessive bank bonuses. Earlier this month, Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA] and Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] unveiled a proposal to tax employee bonuses at certain banks and Wall Street firms that received bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Dubbed the Taxpayer Fairness Act, Webb and Boxer's bill would impose a one-time, 50 percent tax on the bonuses at those firms and banks that exceeded $400,000 la...Read Full Article