On January 1, Congress approved the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which postpones through the end of February $110 billion in spending cuts on non-exempt defense and domestic programs. The across-the-board spending cuts had been set to take effect January 2 and threatened numerous federal grant programs across multiple agencies. The bill carries a number of tax provisions, and raises income tax rates on households earning more than $450,000, among other effects you can read about at the link above.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act extends the farm bill for nine months, preventing a change in the price-support system that could have led to a doubling in the price of milk. Still, some farm groups have not been satisfied with Washington’s “stop-gap measure,” calling for early action on a new 5-year bill in 2013. The farm bill also covers nutritional programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program.
This week, House Speaker John Boehner said that there would be votes taken on the $60 billion Hurricane Sandy disaster relief package for New York and New Jersey. The Speaker had planned to table the bill, but later agreed to schedule a vote Friday on $9 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program and another vote on January 15 for the remaining $51 billion after anger from both parties moved him to make an about-face. While the maximum disaster grant per family is $31,000, proponents of the disaster relief package point out that affected homeowners and businesses would need much more to rebuild.
For the first time since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is no longer. Though the bill passed the Senate easily back in April, House Republicans claimed that the bill was too supportive of undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, and the LGBT community, and let it expire.
A number of grant programs, which are administered primarily through the Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice, have received appropriations from Congress, including STOP Grants, Transitional Housing Grants, Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforce Protection Orders, Court Training and Improvement Grants, Research on Violence Against Indian Women, Civil Legal Assistance for Victims, and the Elder Abuse Grant Program.
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