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December 14 Legislative Update: House and Senate Still at Loggerheads – It’s ALL in the Politics

Note: See for an update (as of Dec. 22) on the issues in this update.


Several pieces of legislation are whipping around, in very fluid form. Most of these are considered “must pass” legislation, meaning: if there is no resolution bad things will happen.

Balanced Budget Amendment – The August debt deal requires that both the House and the Senate vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. The House has taken their vote. The Senate is set to vote on two versions, as soon as today. NETWORK continues to strongly oppose ANY balanced budget amendment.

OMNIBUS – This “mega-bill” combines nine remaining bills for funding the government for the rest of FY 2012 (which began Oct. 1, 2011). At the moment, we have no detail of what is in this bill. Recently, we were told of the likely passage of a semi-omnibus (7 of the bills), with a year-long continuing resolution on Labor, Health & Human Services and Education, and Interior/Environment. Now, we hear that a full omnibus may come to a vote. If these bills are not voted on and signed by the president there is danger of a government shutdown – once again. The other alternative is yet another continuing resolution (which NETWORK opposes) for some period of time to allow more negotiation on parts of a bill.

The OMNIBUS is being held hostage by legislators of both parties. They refuse to bring it to the floor until action is taken on the following two bills. Each party has its own “pay-fors” (suggestions for raising money to finance these expenditures) which are preventing action on:

  • Payroll Tax Extension
  • Unemployment Insurance Extension.

See descriptions below for examples of “pay-fors” to be avoided.

A bill containing both of these was passed by th