Thursday, January 10, 2013

“Cliff” Diving with Carpet Industry Lobbyist Jenn Mendez

Jennifer Mendez, CRI VP for Government Relations
Jennifer Mendez
Happy New Year! I wasn't (and am still not) completely sure how happy it will be.  As a resident of the Washington, DC area, all the news lately has revolved (and still revolves) around the fiscal cliff and whether or not we will stand on the edge or fall into the abyss. This is an issue of importance, not just to the folks "inside the beltway", but to people around the globe.

During the past several days, listening to news about the fiscal cliff was much like following a sporting event; one minute the tide was heading one direction and the next it was heading in a completely different direction. Following is a snippet of the news I received during the recent negotiations. Let’s see if you have as much trouble keeping up with it as I did.

Cliff Diving: December 31, 2012 - 10:57 a.m.

After overnight negotiations, Senate Minority Leader McConnell and Vice President Biden are said to have made some progress towards a year-end tax deal. Clearly the talks, on the brink of collapse yesterday afternoon, have renewed momentum. The tentative agreement is said to raise tax rates for families who earn more than $450,000, and individuals who make more than $400,000. Clearly, serious obstacles remain, not the least of which is how Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will react to any agreement McConnell can make.

If McConnell and Biden fail, the economy will go over the cliff at midnight tonight, resulting in hefty tax hikes and spending cuts. If there’s an agreement, it will first be voted on by the Senate and, if passed, go to the House. Speaker John Boehner has said the House will take up whatever bill the Senate passes and either pass it or amend it and send it back to the upper chamber.

Even at best a Biden/McConnell deal is not expected to address the sequester. The sequester will cut billions of dollars for defense and domestic programs over the next nine months. Members of Congress will work to limit the impact of the sequester over the coming days and the new Congress will take the issue up after it is sworn in on January 3.

If there is no agreement Senate Democrats will attempt to force through an emergency measure that will extend current tax rates for families making less than $250,000, as well as an extension of unemployment benefits. Republicans have not said whether they will threaten a filibuster, requiting 60 votes for Senate passage. Even if the measure can pass with 51 votes, or if enough Republicans join to get the measure over 60 votes, passage by the Republican-controlled House remains unlikely.”

Cliff Diving: December 31, 2012 - 1:25 p.m.

“The contours of the "tentative’ fiscal cliff deal are beginning to emerge. The deal under consideration is said to include a tax hike on individual filers making more than $400,000 a year, and joint filers making more than $450,000 a year. The big new is that there will apparently be a delay in the sequestration spending cuts, a permanent alternative minimum tax fix and the extension of emergency unemployment benefits. President Obama to speak at 1:30 EST.”

Cliff Dive For Sure: December 31, 2012 - 4:39 p.m. (My personal favorite!)

“Grab onto something. The House has gone home for the evening. The economy goes over the cliff at midnight. Senate still working on an agreement.”

Cliff Diving: January 1, 2013 - 1:26 p.m.

"The Senate bill to avert the fiscal cliff passed last night 89/8. The House is in session, but Republican Leadership has not yet decided whether it will allow a vote on the Senate bill today. Tax rates reverted to the higher Clinton-era levels for everyone at midnight last night. Among many other provisions, the Senate bill would reduce tax rates back to Bush era-levels for individuals making under $400,000 and married couples filing jointly making under $450,000. It also delays the sequestration for two months.”

Cliff Diving: January 1, 2013 - 8:00 p.m.

“An overwhelming number of the House Republican caucus will oppose the bipartisan Senate bill to avoid the fiscal cliff. As a result the House will likely amend the bill and send it back to the Senate. All bets are off for reaching a quick resolution to the crisis. All eyes will be on the stock market tomorrow for investor reaction. The Pentagon has said that it will begin civilian layoffs as early as next week. Taxes have already risen significantly for all US taxpayers. Experts fear another recession. Should be another interesting week.”

Cliff Diving: January 1, 2013 - 8:18 PM

“In a surprise move during a closed republican caucus the GOP rejected efforts to amend the Senate bill. An up or down vote on the Senate-passed bill will apparently be taken later tonight.”

Cliff Diving Halt: January 1, 2013 - 8:44 p.m.

“Finally looks as if it will pass with democratic votes.”

Cliff Dive Averted: January 1, 2013 - 11:13 p.m.

“The House just passed the Senate bill 257 to 167 avoiding the fiscal cliff for now. Sequestration is postponed for a short two months. A majority of republicans and a handful of democrats opposed the measure.”

…And I thought the Redskins v. Cowboys game was a nail biter......

Best to you, 

Jenn Mendez

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