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Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 402, National Infrastructure Development Bank Act 2011
Annualized Cost: $5 billion ($25 billion over five years)
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) introduced H.R. 402 to establish a public bank, which "would supplement other federal infrastructure programs, and provide investment opportunities to create jobs, spur economic growth, and help build an infrastructure for the future." As a wholly-owned government corporation, such as the housing entity Fannie Mae, the bank's financing would be backed by the full faith and credit of the US government.
The National Infrastructure Development Bank would issue bonds to eligible lenders, including regional, state, and local entities, as well as commercial banks. Funds would be directed to transportation, environmental, energy, and telecommunications projects, each requiring a different set of standards to be considered by the four committees within the bank.
The bill authorizes $5 billion for each of the next five years. Funds would serve as the base capital from which the bank would issue bonds. In the President's budget proposal, a similar bank was outlined at the same $5 billion annual cost but instead over six years.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 413, Defense and Deficit Reduction Act
Annualized Savings: -$36.4 billion (first-year savings)
By introducing the Defense and Deficit Reduction Act, Congressman Pete Stark (CA-13) proposes to "have a meaningful effect on the deficit" by cutting the military's budget. H.R. 413 would make across-the-board cuts to defense appropriations in FY 2011 but would exclude military personnel pay and benefits as well as counter-drug activities carried out by the Defense Department.
In a press release issued by Congressman Stark's office, the bill would return Department of Defense military spending to 2008 levels or, "saving $182 billion" over five years. NTUF took only the first year's savings into account because the bill cuts the budget in FY 2011 to 2008 levels and freezes it for the next four years. The savings would be used to reduce the deficit.
The Bill: H.R. 471/S. 206, Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act
Annualized Cost: $60 million ($300 million over five years)
Number of Cosponsors: 50 Congressmen and 6 Senators
The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) was a school voucher initiative created in 2004. As the first federally-funded program of its type, 2,000 children from low income families in the Washington, DC area were awarded funds to help offset costs associated with enrollment at private schools. Individual scholarships of up to $7,500 were awarded until a 2009 budget measure defunded the program.
House Speaker John Boehner (OH-8) and Senator Joe Lieberman (CT) introduced the SOAR Act to reauthorize the DCOSP from FY 2012 to 2016. Senator Lieberman said, "without a quality education, there is no equal opportunity. … This legislation would fulfill the fundamental civil rights of children in DC to get the best educations they can. There is no down side."
According to the Congressional Budget Office, annual costs would include $20 millionto fund DCOSP plus $40 million to fund improvement projects for DC public and charter schools. H.R. 471 would not impose any extra costs or mandates on state or local governments or private entities.
Cosponsors include one Democrat and 49 Republicans in the House. In the Senate, one Democrat and five Republicans support S. 206.
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The Bill: H.R. 820/S. 393, Prescribe A Book Act
Annualized Cost: $15 million (first year cost)
H.R. 820 and S. 393, sponsored by Congressman Donald Payne (NJ-10) and Senator Jack Reed (RI) respectively, would establish national Pediatric Early Literacy Programs to award grants to encourage health care providers to get involved in early reading efforts. Private nonprofit organizations and public agencies would be eligible for grants if their programs give priority to children in poverty, without medical insurance, in a State Medicaid program, living in rural areas, with immigrant parents, and/or children with limited access to libraries.
The Act creates a 3-part program model. Health care workers would offer recommendations to parents to read to their children, health care providers would give children between the ages of six months and five years a book to keep, and volunteers would read aloud to children in waiting areas.
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