The 111th Congress is off to a strong start, passing a budget that is a blueprint for America's economic recovery and jobs--and sustainable growth for years to come. The budget lays the foundation for the bold agenda of President Obama and this Congress to take America in a New Direction: affordable health care, clean energy, educational excellence, fiscal responsibility, and tax fairness.
SIGNED INTO LAW
AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT, enacted in the first month of President Obama's term, to create and save 3.5 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and transform it for the 21st century, with unprecedented accountability measures--no earmarks, new state whistleblower protections, strong oversight, and an historic degree of public transparency online at www.recovery.gov. The Act:
- gives 95% of American workers one of the fastest and broadest tax cuts in history
- creates and saves jobs to solve the nation's greatest challenges:
- clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency
- science, innovation, and education
- health care to lower costs and improve care with electronic medical records
- extend high-speed internet to businesses and schools in every community across America
- begins to rebuild America's road, rail, and water infrastructure with significant new investments
HEALTH CARE FOR 11 MILLION CHILDREN, to finally provide cost-effective health coverage for 4 million more children whose parents earn too little to provide their own insurance, but too much to qualify for Medicaid, and preserve coverage for 7 million children already enrolled.
LILLY LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT, to restore the rights of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay--to help close the wage gap where women earn 78 cents for every $1 a man earns in America.
OMNIBUS PUBLIC LANDS MANAGEMENT ACT 0F 2009, the most significant conservation bill in 15 years, a big boost to economic development and tourism at 160 mostly rural American sites; creating 2 million new acres of wilderness across 9 states; establishing 3 new national park units; designating 1,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers; designating a National Monument and 3 National Conservation Areas; protecting world-class hunting land in the Wyoming Range; and recognizing new Historic Sites and Heritage Areas.
EDWARD M. KENNEDY SERVE AMERICA ACT, tripling volunteerism opportunities for national service for 250,000 Americans, for everyone from students to retirees; creating new service corps for education, health care, energy and veterans; establishing a Summer of Service opportunity for middle and high school students; and increasing the financial award for volunteering college students.
PASSED BY HOUSE
BUDGET BLUEPRINT, reflecting President Obama's plan to get the economy moving again--after eight years of the lowest job growth in three quarters of a century--and lay the foundation for lasting prosperity and economic growth. The House budget:
- Cuts the Bush deficit by nearly two-thirds by 2013
- Cuts taxes for middle income families by $1.5 trillion
- Creates jobs with targeted investments in affordable health care, clean energy, and education
- Reduces non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level as a percent of the economy in nearly half a century
- Makes an historic investment in Veterans' health care and services
WATER QUALITY INVESTMENT ACT, to launch clean water projects across America, creating an estimated 680,000 jobs over the next five years.
HELPING FAMILIES SAVE THEIR HOMES ACT, building on the President's efforts, and providing significant incentives to lenders, servicers, and homeowners to work together to modify loans and to avoid foreclosures--costing families their homes every 13 seconds in America; and in some cases, allowing bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of loans for families with existing mortgages.
TARP ACCOUNTABILITY AND PAY FOR PERFORMANCE ACT, to strengthen accountability of the financial rescue effort launched by President Bush; support President Obama's refocusing of efforts to get credit flowing to businesses and families and provide new tools to fix the housing foreclosure crisis; to set up an Inspector General to monitor TARP spending; and ban unreasonable compensation to top employees at participating institutions.
MAKING MORE PROGRESS IN ENDING MILITARY FAMILIES TAX, which currently unfairly penalizes the 55,000 surviving spouses of military personnel who died as a result of their service-connected injuries.
FDA REGULATION OF TOBACCO, granting the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the advertising, marketing, and manufacturing of tobacco products, currently the number-one cause of preventable death in America, responsible for about 1 in 5 deaths each year, $193 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity, and 1,000 children each day becoming new, regular smokers.
ADOPTED AS HOUSE POLICY
OVERSIGHT HEARINGS ON WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE, required of every House committee to regularly conduct oversight on Federal agencies and spending, reversing years of lax Congressional oversight; builds on the more than 1,400 hearings held in the New Direction Congress in 2007 - 2008.
EARMARK REFORM, the 111th Congress continues reform, cutting in half the amount of Congressionally-designated spending; and providing unprecedented transparency about who's requesting the funding.