Up Front - Congress and White House
– On tap today:
The Senate considers six remaining amendments to the water resources
bill before it is expected to pass the measure. The House considers
five measures under suspension, including one that would direct the
Securities and Exchange Commission to complete rules exempting
certain “small issue” offerings up to $50 million in a 12-month
period from registration.
Immigration reform and farm bill markups continue in the Senate (immigration) and House (farm bill) – details below.
President Obama addresses the National Peace Officers Memorial Service. The ceremony honors law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. Also on the president's schedule: lunch with Vice President Joe Biden.
– Report released. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released a highly critical report on the IRS targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) groups. Link Meanwhile, President Obama late Tuesday directed Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to hold personnel at the Internal Revenue Service accountable for their actions and to ensure each of the recommendations in an inspector general's report were implemented quickly.
– FBI investigation ordered. Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s ordered the Justice Department and FBI to investigate whether IRS officials broke the law when they targeted conservative groups for more thorough reviews. Today, Holder appears before the House Judiciary Committee, giving House Republicans their first chance to give Holder their thoughts about government overreaching on the tax matter and looking into AP telephone relative to a national security infraction. The panel will hold a previously scheduled oversight hearing on the Justice Department. Holder said at a Tuesday news conference that he had recused himself from the leak investigation to ensure that it was seen as independent, citing his frequent contacts with the media. Holder expressed confidence the probe followed appropriate Justice Department regulations and was justified on national security grounds. Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) said questioning will go beyond the phone records and also address what he terms the “politicization” of the agency, questionable spending decisions and whether officials failed to connect the dots and share information about the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
– CBO report shows smaller deficit. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released late Tuesday said the federal deficit will plunge to $642 billion this year — $200 billion less than what people originally anticipated and the its lowest level since 2008. The agency attributes the reduction from its earlier estimate of $845 billion to higher tax revenue and an increase in payments to the Treasury from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage enterprises that are now reporting record profits. The deficit would equal 4 percent of GDP, down from 5.3 percent in the earlier forecast. The agency also cut its estimate for the cumulative deficit over the next 10 years by $618 billion, reducing it to $6.34 trillion from the $6.958 trillion projected in February. The revised forecasts will likely impact ongoing fiscal and debt talks. Link
– Financial institutions. A new report released by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative found that a combination of remedies from reforming the bankruptcy code to providing new authorities in Dodd-Frank can ensure that an important financial institution can be helped without a financial panic or crisis. Link