Weekly Update 

Late last week, the Senate Finance Committee marked up tax extenders legislation that seeks to retroactively extend the tax provisions which ended at the close of 2013.  The bill also addresses tax provisions which are scheduled to expire at the end of 2014.  To-date, there is bipartisan support to pass a tax reform package that would make permanent these deductions and credits. It is not expected that the Senate as a whole will take up the legislation for a while.  Amendments to the bill can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, the House is considering tax extender provisions that are included in the Tax Reform Act of 2014 Discussion Draft.  On Tuesday, April 8th, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing to consider the legislation. 

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court rendered its ruling on McCutcheon, et al. v. Federal Election Commission.  In a 5-4 decision, the highest court struck down the aggregate limit on how much donors can give to campaigns and parties, which would have been a maximum of $123,200.  So, instead of stopping when a donor hits that aggregate limit, they can keep giving that maximum amount to each candidate/party committee.   Keep in mind, however, there still remains a maximum cap on how much a donor can contribute directly to an individual candidate or party committee.  Each election cycle the cap is adjusted based on inflation, which means that in 2014, donation maximum is $5,200 per candidate ($2,600 primary, $2,600 general) and $32,400 to a party committee.

Last week, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz defended the agency’s $27.9 billion FY15 budget request to lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.  Hot topics included LNG exports and the administration’s focus on renewable energies, efficiency programs, and a cut to spending on fossil energy.  You can view Sec. Moniz’s opening statements before the Committee on Energy and Commerce here.

On Wednesday of this week the secretary and his deputy, Daniel Poneman, will appear before appropriators on the Senate side.  The hearing is scheduled on Wednesday, April 9, at 2:30 p.m.  Secretary Moniz will return to the House on Thursday where he is expected to face some scrutiny on the administration’s energy research priorities from the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Thursday, April 10, at 9 a.m.

Today, the House reconvened at 2 p.m.; it is considering the Baseline Reform Act of 2013 which would stipulate that budget baselines for discretionary spending going forward are not to assume annual increased based on inflation.  On Tuesday, the House is expected to consider a measure that would require market risks to be included when calculating the cost of federal loan and loan guarantee programs.  Wednesday, the House will start discussing legislation that would establish the 2015 federal budget and set budgetary levels for fiscal years for 2016-24.

Today, the Senate reconvened at 2 p.m., it is considering legislation that would retroactively restore unemployment insurance benefits.