Senate Launches Immigration and Border Security Bill
Senators easily granted cloture and moved forward on the amendment process expected to continue into the week of June 17th.The bill aims to make legal the estimated 11 million undocumented aliens in the country largely by granting Registered Provision Immigrant status to begin the path to lawful permanent resident status, with certain exceptions, but not until the Secretary certifies to the President and Congress that: the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy is substantially operational, the Southern Border Fencing Strategy is substantially completed, a mandatory employment verification system to be used by all employers to prevent unauthorized workers from obtaining U.S. employment has been implemented, and an electronic exit system at air and sea ports of entry that operates by collecting machine-readable visa or passport information from air and vessel carriers is in use.
The bill justifies itself by singing the praises of immigrant contributions to the US economy noting, among other things, that “A path to citizenship for the undocumented population will also balance out an aging population and protect the future of Social Security, by empowering a new class of lawful workers who can pay into the system. The independent Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration recently estimated that S. 744 will add more than $200 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund over the next decade. “
The bill, which has several elements similar to Canadian immigration policy, creates new visas to include specific allowances for entrepreneurial immigrants and those with significant education in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The bill leans hard on aliens in gangs, aliens out of the country who were in gangs, aliens convicted three times or more for driving under the influence, those convicted of spouse and child abuse, terrorist activities, torture, those whose home country does not want them back, and other illegal activities would face, under the bill inadmissibility and deportation.
House Wrangles with Defense Authorization
The House is amending HR 1960, the bill authorizing spending amounts for the Departments of Defense, Energy and Interior. The bill would spend $552.1 billion which matches spending authorized in HCR 25, the House budget resolution, but exceeds anticipated spending caps set in the Budget Control Act. $85.8 is marked for overseas contingency operations equal to last fiscal year spending amounts and $2.7 billion less for war spending.
The bill precedes the Defense appropriation bill that appropriates the funds but the approach to the authorization bill, that of setting spending at levels put forth in HCR 25, the House budget resolution that did not gain attention in the Senate, rather than the Bidget Enforcement Act levels ($498 billion), could lead to another standoff between the divided political parties depending on which guideline prevails; HCR 25 or the BCA. The BCA is the law, HCR 25 is not. Should the BCA prevail then the bill could be in violation of that law which could trigger further sequester cuts for Defense from the Office of Management and Budget, the agency charged with overseeing the cuts.
CBO Sees Deficit Drop Due to Higher Revenues, Less Spending
“The federal government ran a budget deficit of $627 billion from October 2012 through May 2013 (the first eight months of fiscal year 2013), according to CBO’s estimates. That amount is almost $220 billion less than the shortfall recorded during the same period last year, primarily because federal revenues have risen by 15 percent, while the government’s spending has risen by less than 1 percent. “
Derivative Swaps Given Technical Amendments
Four Bills Define Swap procedures.
Business Swaps Exemptions
The bill aims to stabilize commodities purchased to mitigate business expenses such as the purchase of jet fuel as an option to counter price increases and other securities-based swaps.
Agency Liability Protection Rescinded
Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been protected from liability when shared information results in law suits. The protection is removed by the bill.
Power Companies Freed of Swap Dealer Status
Energy companies hedging against fuel pirce increases may not have to register as a swap dealer.
Cross-border Swaps Addressed
Swaps transaction between a US person and a non-US person would be subject to new rules after determining the extent to which the US swaps requirements shall apply to the non-US person’s deals as well as US persons and their branches, agencies, subsidiaries and affiliates outside the US.
Reverse Mortgage Gains More Oversight.
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is authorized to establish requirements to improve the fiscal safety and soundness of the home equity conversion mortgage insurance program.
Senate Passes Farm Bill
The $955 billion bill is designed to cut $17.8 billion in payments to farmers. The bill is expected to meet with an opposing House bill later this month.
Utah City Gains Valuable Land
Fruit Heights, Utah would receive 100 acres of National Forest Service land to be used as a cemetery. The land was acquired by by the federal government ten years ago for $3 million.
Rattlesnake Mountain Opened to the Public
The mountain has been largely off limits after the US seized it as a buffer to the Manhattan nuclear project and later became a Nike missile site. Public comment urged the opening for the “3,527-foot, windswept, treeless, sub-alpine ridge overlooking the Hanford nuclear site” where the “highest winds recorded…were around 150 mph.
Federal Energy Project Transferred to Utah Power District
The US Bureau of Reclamation began the electric project in 1906 which now includes the Strawberry Dam and Reservoir, several diversion dams, canals, three power plants, and a 296 mile electric transmission and distribution system most of which will be transferred.
Washington Recreation Area Gets Fish Ponds Stocked
At no cost to the taxpayers, the bill authorizes stocking of 42 lakes in the North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake Recreational Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Are.
Connecticut River Studied for ‘Wild and Scenic River’ Status
National Park Service is directed to study 86 miles of the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers in the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.The bill also identifies over 100 river systems and sections designated for potential addition to the national wild and scenic rivers system.
The House and Senate Will Adjourn Friday, June 14th.
They Will Return to Work on Monday, June17th