Robert Helland

Subscribe to all posts by Robert Helland

Sequestration 2013: Contractors, Beware the Kalends of March

As many inside the Beltway know, the Budget Control Act of 2011 imposes automatic and wide-reaching cuts if the U.S. government fails to reach an agreement on fiscal policy (commonly known as sequestration). Unless Congress acts, the President is required to order cuts of approximately $85 billion from the federal budget on March 1, 2013. … Continue Reading

The President’s proposal on guns: More or less than meets the eye?

In response to the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has proposed 23 Executive Actions to deal with gun violence. If fully enacted, these proposals would address gun violence by providing additional funds for security measures at schools; tightening background checks for gun purchases, including requiring checks for gun transactions conducted by private sellers; … Continue Reading

2012 Elections Results and After: Congressional Actions Anticipated

As the last outstanding Congressional races are being decided, we note what has not changed as a result of the 2012 elections. For one thing, the Democrats still control the White House and Senate and the Republicans still control the House of Representatives. For another, none of the issues facing Congress and the President – … Continue Reading

“On the brink of the “Fiscal Cliff,” we get a better idea of what life might be like on January 2, 2013″

This post was also written by Gunjan Talati. As the presidential and congressional campaigns continue toward their conclusion on Election Day, November 6, there is another – perhaps more compelling – date to consider: January 2, 2013. That is the date that massive federal spending cuts mandated under the “sequestration” process are expected to begin. The combination … Continue Reading

Congress And The Fiscal Cliff: Important Issues To Be Faced

America’s economy faces the returning 112th Congress in September, and later in the post-election Lame Duck. Budget and key policy legislation issues must be addressed if there is any hope of avoiding massive automatic budget reductions. The need to seek beneficial compromise is understood by all Members. Can this be accomplished? Please click here to … Continue Reading

Money For Nothing: Sen. Coburn’s Report on $70 Billion Available Federal Grant Dollars

The Public Policy & Infrastructure practice has often discussed the availability of unused or “returned” grant funds. This means that often not all grant funds are fully obligated (or obligated at all because of various problems in the award process); some grant amounts must also be “returned” because of eligibility and allowability decisions, and for … Continue Reading

Time to Look to Washington, D.C.: Political and Regulatory Expectations for the 112th Congress, the Lame Duck Session, and Beyond

Notwithstanding popular perceptions, Congress and Federal agencies are considering, and could decide, a number of budget, funding, and regulatory matters within the next few months. Further, for at least one of the critical time periods for possible action, Members (and agency officials) may be focused on achieving the ends of certain partisan goals. One can … Continue Reading

Deadline approaching for key Congressional action on Temporary Tariff Reductions

Key committees in Congress have announced that they will consider requests from Members to temporarily reduce or suspend tariffs on certain imported products as part of a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (“MTB”) that is expected to be considered by Congress later this year. Congress regularly takes up and passes MTBs as an effort to boost the … Continue Reading

A Road to Nowhere? Will Congress ever send a long-term transportation funding bill to the President’s desk?

The recent activity in the House of Representatives on a $260 billion, five-year transportation authorization bill, raises hope that Congress would finally enact a long-delayed successor to the SAFETEA-LU surface transportation law. This would be a relief to all those who seek a long-term source of funding to help repair and replace the nation’s deteriorating … Continue Reading

Get ready for a whole new round of subpoenas from Capitol Hill. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Issa promises to put the grant award process in the spotlight.

Numerous press reports indicate that House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA-41) intends a broad investigation of the federal grant and loan application process, in the wake of the recent bankruptcy of the solar company, Solyndra. Up until now, the primary committee in the House investigating and holding hearings on the decision to … Continue Reading

Your Monthly Threat of Government Shutdown?

Those of us who follow the Hill are beginning to feel like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day: waking to news of another potential shutdown, we wonder if we will spend the next 13 months until November 2012 in a state of permanent impending doom. Most remember the partisan bickering over spending levels that almost … Continue Reading

President Obama’s jobs plan proposes spending on infrastructure. What will Congress do?

Earlier this month, President Obama proposed a $447 billion package of tax cuts and new spending to help the economy. In a joint session to Congress, the President laid out the terms of his proposal, which includes over $100 million for upgrading highways; mass transit; rail, both freight and intercity; aviation; schools; and local neighborhoods … Continue Reading

Brother, can you spare a dime? With Members of the “Super Committee” appointed, work begins in earnest to find $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in cuts to the federal debt

As we noted last week, the $900 million cut from the federal budget to avoid default of the nation’s debt obligations is only just the beginning. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (“Act”) guarantees that another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion will be cut from the federal debt over the next ten years (Public Law 112-35). … Continue Reading

The Satan Sandwich is in the Details: Breaking Down the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Role of the Joint Select Committee on the Deficit Reduction.

Last week, the House of Representatives and the Senate each voted to pass the Budget Control Act of 2011 (“Act”) raising the nation’s debt limit and averting the real threat of a default on our debt obligations. President Barack Obama promptly signed it into law the same day, narrowly averting default (Public Law 112-35). However, … Continue Reading

Congress makes an effort to address the growing transportation infrastructure backlog

A flurry of legislative activity in the House of Representatives and Senate on measures affecting transportation infrastructure projects may signal movement on a multi-year spending in the 112th Congress. The need is clearly there: the American Society of Civil Engineers (“ASCE”) in its 2009 “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure“, 33% of America’s major roads were … Continue Reading

Elected officials beware: Your vote does not equal free speech

Across the country, federal, state and local governments have enacted – and strengthened – conflict of interest restrictions on how their elected officials vote as a way to prevent those officials from voting in their own self-interest To those who argue that such a restriction on voting violates his or her First Amendment Right to … Continue Reading

Consider Grant Remedies Before Repaying Uncle Sam

At times, Federal grantees reconsider the wisdom of applying for, and spending, Federal grant dollars. Unfortunately, the result of such reconsideration is a demand by the Federal grantor to repay the grant funds already spent. A grantee facing this predictable Federal decision-making has a number of options before pulling out the peoples’ checkbook (or running … Continue Reading

The debate on raising the debt limit: We’ve seen this movie before.

In April, the President and Congressional Republicans agreed on a deal to cut $38.5 billion in discretionary spending from the federal budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2011, averting the threat of a government shutdown. As we have noted however, that decision was “easy” when compared with the more difficult decisions Congress and … Continue Reading

Joint congressional hearing this Thursday on Obama Administration proposal disclosing political contributions by government contractors.

The Chairs of the House Oversight and Government Reform and Small Business Committees have announced a joint hearing of their respective committees on a sweeping proposal by the Obama Administration requiring the disclosure of political contributions and expenditures by those bidding on government contracts. The Public Policy and Infrastructure Group has been monitoring this draft … Continue Reading

Are additional restrictions on political spending by government contractors coming from the Obama Administration?

The Internet has been ablaze over the past 24 hours with reports that the Obama Administration is considering requiring “all entities submitting offers for federal contracts to disclose certain political contributions and expenditures that they have made within two years prior to the submission of their offer”. This was first disclosed by Hans A. von … Continue Reading

At the 11th hour, an agreement was reached on the US Fiscal Year 2011 budget. That was the “easy” part.

Late Friday evening, with only minutes remaining before a partial shutdown of the federal government, the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republicans came to an agreement on spending and policy decisions necessary to fund the federal government for the remaining six months of Fiscal Year 2011. In the end, $38.5 billion was cut from … Continue Reading

Ending Collective Bargaining Rights of Public Employees. Is this a Case of Cutting off your Nose to Spite your Face?

Attention has been fixated on efforts in Wisconsin and other states as governors seek concessions from public employee unions in efforts to balance their budgets. Governor Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin has gone the furthest, so far, by seeking to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public employee union, prompting Democrats in the State Senate … Continue Reading

The Power of the Subpoena: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its next Chairman, Representative Darryl Issa

What can the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigate? Pretty much anything it wants. With Republicans taking over the majority in the House of Representatives, the incoming Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA-49), is set to move forward on an aggressive plan of oversight of the Executive … Continue Reading