Washington Watch, Week of March 9-15

Events in Ukraine will dominate lawmakers’ attention on Capitol Hill this week. The House may also take up the contentious fight over the best way to prevent expiration of the formula used for physician reimbursements under Medicare.

Legislation that authorizes the Medicare payment formula, the so-called “Doc Fix,” expires March 31, and inaction would mean those payments could be cut as much as 24.4 percent. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, has been among those seeking a permanent solution to the problem.

Also next week, there will be competing Democratic and GOP plans to restore extended unemployment benefits for those who have been out of a job for more than 26 weeks.

Tuesday, March 11:  Connecticut lawmakers and other members of Congress will hold a news conference to welcome a group of cyclists who will be riding from Newtown to Washington, D.C., to honor victims of gun violence.

Wednesday, March 12: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on raising the federal minimum wage. Sen. Chris Murphy is on the panel. But even if he weren’t, Democrats would bring up Connecticut’s state law that raises the minimum wage in stages. Congress isn’t likely to act on a minimum wage bill, but it’s a campaign issue for Democrats.

Also Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan is to testify before a Senate Banking subcommittee on recovery efforts from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. HUD will determine how much more home reconstruction money Connecticut will get.

On the House side, the Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the Obama administration’s request to hold another round of base closings, which would imperil the Naval Submarine Base in New London.

Thursday, March 13: The House Appropriations Committee will discuss next year’s budget for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and provide a forum for a debate of the president’s deportation policy and stalled congressional efforts to approve an immigration reform bill.

 

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