Washington Review, September 27, 2013
This past week in Congress has been one of the more challenging weeks of the session. The fiscal year will end on Monday, and if Congress does not pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded, it will shut down. Furthermore, we are faced with an added challenge on October 17th when the debt ceiling will need to be raised in order for the United States to avoid default on its debt.
Over a week ago, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution that I feel was unacceptable. In order to keep the government open, it would require the defunding of the Affordable Care Act which is set to begin offering affordable healthcare coverage to the uninsured on October 1st. The Senate is currently reviewing this resolution and is expected to remove the language defunding the Affordable Care Act before sending it back to the House of Representatives for a final vote. It is my hope that, before midnight on Monday, the House will pass a clean Continuing Resolution to keep our government open.
There has also been discussion amongst the majority in the House of Representatives to present a resolution that would suspend the debt ceiling for a year. However, attached to this resolution there would be a variety of provisions completely unrelated to the debt limit, including changes to Medicare and environmental regulations. Raising the debt ceiling does not involve authorizing or appropriating new funds, rather it allows the Department of the Treasury to pay bills that the U.S. has already incurred. I do not believe that now is the time to play politics with our economy. As our economy is recovering, it is imperative that Congress quickly come together and pass clean legislation to keep our government functioning and our credit sustained. As the process for funding the government will be fluid over the next several days, I will keep you informed of the situation.
Additionally, this week, members of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees met with Vice President Biden to discuss specific issues and initiatives pertinent to the Western Hemisphere. The meeting came at the heels of Vice President Biden’s recent visit to Mexico where he met with President Enrique Peña Nieto. The discussion involved U.S. efforts to maintain and strengthen our relationships with Mexico and Brazil. Also discussed was the need to focus more intently on the region and on ways the United States can provide greater support for the security and development of our southern neighbors.
Lastly, if you are currently uninsured, I encourage you to visit www.healthcare.gov on October 1st when the new Health Insurance Marketplace for New Jersey consumers will open. According to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services, New Jersey consumers will be able to choose from an average of 29 health plans in the Marketplace. At www.healthcare.gov you will be able to apply for health insurance, as well as subsidies to assist in paying for coverage if you are eligible.