House Passes Bill to Extend Debt Limit
This past Wednesday, January 23, the House passed H.R. 325, the "No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013," a short-term debt limit bill proposed by House Republicans. The legislation would suspend the debt limit through May 18, when the current $16.4 trillion debt ceiling would be automatically increased to cover additional debt accrued in the interim. The passage of this bill would give Congress three more months to determine a second increase to the debt limit in 2013, allowing Congress to focus on sequestration and fiscal year (FY) 2013 appropriations.
However, the bill increases the likelihood of sequestration, across-the-board cuts to discretionary programs that would have a devastating impact on homelessness assistance, taking effect on March 1, 2013. The debt ceiling will no longer serve as an incentive for Congress and the President to make a longer-term budget deal before sequestration takes place, and many observers question whether sequestration will in itself be enough to motivate the kinds of compromise that would be necessary. Although the Senate has not yet passed the debt ceiling suspension bill, President Obama has indicated that he would sign it.
Senate Expected to Pass Spending Blueprint
Last Wednesday, January 23, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the new Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, announced that she intends to move a budget resolution through the Senate to address a sequestration replacement and set federal funding levels for FY 2014.
Senate Reintroduces Violence Against Women Act
Last Tuesday, January 22, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) included the Violence Against Women Act among a list of his top agenda items. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) along with Mike Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced a new version, S. 47, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, in the Senate. Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) reintroduced an identical bill, H.R. 11, the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, in the House. These new versions remove the visa expansion provision, which would have made green cards available to some immigrant victims of domestic abuse, and the revenue that funds it, from the previous version of the bill that failed to pass through the House last April, in order to expedite the process of the bill's passage.
House in Recess; Senate in Session
The House has been dismissed for recess since last Thursday, January 24. They will reconvene next Monday, February 4 after their constituent work week. The Senate remains in session.
Conference Reception and Hotel Information
The deadline for registering for the special reception, which will be hosted by the premiere conference sponsor, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is Thursday, February 14. If you haven't registered for the reception, please refer to the confirmation email that you received upon registering for the conference, which contains registration instructions.
The conference hotel, the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, has extended the special sleeping room rate past the original February 2 cutoff date. Rooms will now be available, pending inventory availability, at the special conference rate until 11:59 p.m. PT, Monday, February 11. Visit the hotel tab on the conference website to learn how to reserve your room today.
New Assistance for Local Agencies
A new round of technical assistance is available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the federal agency operating Social Security's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) program. The SOAR program improves access to federal benefits that homeless clients may be eligible for. More specifically, SOAR involves training and resources for local agencies addressing homelessness and provides tools that will improve their homeless clients' access to SSI and SSDI or other disability benefits administered by the Social Security Administration. Continuums of Care that have not participated in the SOAR Technical Assistance Project to date are invited to apply for SOAR technical assistance by March 15, 2013.