ON THE HILL … Both the House and Senate were on recess this week.
The top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland acknowledged this week that the major fiscal issues facing Congress won’t be dealt with until after the election and maybe not until next year. Though many Members had been speculating on this point, Von Hollen’s assertion puts further credence to the notion, given his high position. With the Bush era tax rates set to expire and automatic budget cuts set to take effect at the beginning of the new year, lawmakers will only have about six weeks after the November election to cobble together a deal. But one of the components of a deal that already has gained bipartisan support — the need for an overhaul of the tax code — most likely will take more time to negotiate.
The Week Ahead… The House Budget Committee on Monday will debate and vote on legislation to substitute discretionary and entitlement spending cuts for scheduled automatic defense cuts to take place under the budget agreement reached last August. The two bills that will be considered, the Sequester Replacement Act and the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, formalize the savings House GOP leadership earlier instructed six committees – Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means – to find. While the Senate has made clear it will not allow the House to go back on the Budget Control Act agreed to last August, the House Budget Committee nonetheless has agreed to smaller top line in fiscal year 2013 spending and has given its leadership the ability to revoke the defense cuts.