Current federal workers wouldn't see much change under the framework budget leaders proposed Tuesday for the next two fiscal years, but new hires would see more of their paychecks going to pension contributions. Federal employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2014 would pay 4.4 percent of their salary toward retirement benefits, a summary (.pdf) of the budget bill (H.J. Res. 59) says. Currently, feds pay 3.1 percent into pensions.
The quality of congressional investigations rose after Watergate, with more of them having a great deal of impact, a Dec. 4 Brookings Institution paper by New York University professor Paul Light says.
With the self-imposed deadline to finish up fiscal 2014 budget negotiations looming, there's no sign that the budget committee created after the October government shutdown will strike a deal. The budget conference deadline hits Dec. 13, but there aren't immediate consequences until Jan. 15 when funding from the continuing resolution that reopened the government in Oct. runs out.
The Senate voted to change the way it approves executive and sub-Supreme Court judicial nominees. They now need a simple majority rather than 60 votes to be approved, effectively ending the ability to filibuster a nomination.
The continuing resolution that funds the government through Jan. 15 restored the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program, continuing both its existence and doubts about its long-term stability. Congress first directed the Homeland Security Department in the fiscal 2007 DHS appropriations bill (P.L. 109-295) to establish a chemical facility counterterrorism security regulation program, and hasn't since authorized CFATS into law through its own statute.
After House Republican leadership made another failed attempt to pass their own bill, Senate leaders on both sides met again to come up with a plan to reopen the government and raise the debt limit. The Senate plan would set funding at $986 billion and reopen the government until Jan. 15, Politico reports. The debt ceiling would be raised until Feb. 7 and a formal bicameral conference committee would have until Dec. 13 to negotiate a larger-scale budget deal.
Senate leaders on both sides reached a deal Monday night to raise the debt limit through Feb. 7 and finance the government through Jan. 15, but House Republicans decided Tuesday morning to push their own bill. The Senate agreement would also begin formal discussions on a long-term tax and spending plan that would need to be finished no later than Dec. 13.
Nine days into the government shutdown, President Obama reached out to Congress to meet Wednesday about a temporary spending bill and the looming debt limit. Meanwhile, public confidence in the economy has dropped during the last week of the shutdown to its lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis, an Oct. 8 Gallup poll says.
If Congress fails to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling limit, causing the government to default on its obligations, there would be severe economic repercussions, says the Treasury Department. "In the event that a debt limit impasse were to lead to a default, it could have a catastrophic effect on not just financial markets but also on job creation, consumer spending and economic growth," says the department in a report published Oct. 3
Little progress has been made on re-opening federal agencies since a lack of funds for the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1 forced the government to furlough between a third and a half of its employees.