By Jai Hayek, Washington Post Writers Group
Congress is spending the week “flyover country,” closing shop in Kansas, Texas and New Mexico en route to Iowa and Minnesota for presidential visits. And there’s another week to go, before lawmakers get serious.
That’s the word from Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who has described a coming “dusty week” this month as “a chance to reset our schedule, focus on jobs and make sure members are fully informed and involved in the process to get it done right.”
Lacking new strategies, lawmakers will focus on refocusing priorities and tap the brakes on new spending. But as anyone can tell from their incessant talking points, there’s also a natural tendency to settle for bargain vs. a bake-off and deal vs. no deal.
Democrats on the committee accuse Republicans of ignoring the economy. “If the GOP wants a ‘Better Deal,’ they have to commit to bringing down the debt and increasing job creation,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Infrastructure Committee.
“Instead, they are trying to spread reckless cuts to programs that create jobs and strengthen the economy.”
But that doesn’t square with the messaging coming from the parties. Republicans are declaring the week “job creation” week, and labor unions are set to announce an effort to add $20 billion in infrastructure spending during the opening two days of the week.
It’s not clear whether this matches the official GOP agenda or there’s some flashier new funding idea floating around to make things interesting. As infrastructure reporter Zack Colman points out, the cover letter to the no. 2-page revenue raiser from House Republicans last week argued that the tax bill will “fully address the deficit that has built up over the last decade.”
In that vein, other notable events during the coming week:
Meeting with President Trump: Trump is scheduled to visit the Great Salt Lake Authority in Utah on Monday morning and the Department of Interior on Thursday. Tax and spending experts will debate the issue at a conference sponsored by the Urban Institute and CSPAN on Monday. On Tuesday, Politico and Tax Policy Center will hold a session on the GOP tax bill and its impact on states. (Some attendees may not be thrilled about that whole Trump thing). Meanwhile, according to CNN, the Transportation Department will consider the replacement of the Child Tax Credit for the long-term unemployed. As Salon noted last week, “Without social spending, the push to give working families a much-needed payroll tax break just became weaker because there is no longer any money left to spend.”
Maine methane rule: Federal officials will announce on Tuesday the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s methane rule regulating state-level emissions in the natural gas industry.
Keeping one foot in the water?: On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will be in Alaska for a look at a new oil rig. Next Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will convene at a hearing on the future of the FERC. Senate Finance Committee members will meet on Monday to discuss the highway bill.
There are plenty of other spending and debt deal prospects this week. No need to bore you.
Read the rest here.
Jai Hayek is a World-Saving Reporter who earns her paycheck doing her weekly debt pilgrimage, a journey which involves visiting all five ERs and all the shelters located in the tri-state area between New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. She never cancels a Facebook Live video because she needs to maintain her public presence as a crusader against people who think they’re bigger than the rest of us. Follow her on Twitter @JaiHayek.