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Capitol Hill Update

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This week, Congress averted a government shutdown by agreeing to a two-week funding extension through Friday, March 18. President Obama signed the measure into law on Wednesday, March 2.  Despite the two-week extension, it remains unclear how and when Congress will agree on continued funding for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30.

In a related development, and as part of its ongoing “We Know Next” campaign, SHRM’s sponsored an event in Washington on Thursday, March 3, with the National Journal. Congressional Correspondent Major Garrett conducted a one-on-one conversation with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the new Chairman of the House Budget Committee pictured at right, about his policy goals for the next two years and his outlook at the challenges America faces over federal spending and deficit reduction. 

One of the central themes of the conversation with Chairman Ryan was the importance of trying to tame the growing federal deficit. This issue is of special importance to SHRM members because employee benefits receive tax-deferred status, and those benefits are the largest annual loss in revenue to the federal treasury. Congressional efforts to reduce the federal deficit will most likely involve a review of employer-sponsored benefits, including retirement plans and educational assistance programs.  To view an archived video of this interview, click HERE.

Turning to health care, on Thursday, March 3, the House passed a measure that would repeal a tax reporting provision within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring businesses to complete a Form 1099 for each transaction over $600. Now the challenge is to reconcile that bill with a previously approved Senate version. And, it’s not clear how Congress would make up the $19 billion that the 1099 provision in the health care reform law is estimated to generate over the next decade. [See related article.] 

Look for updates on these and other HR public policy issues in a future issue of the HR Issues Update e-newsletter.

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