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Association Hawks Last-Minute Hill Action

November 6, 2000

Congress was still in session at press time, attempting to wrap up pend-ing legislation such as immigration reform to aid certain immigrants already in the United States, and a comprehensive tax package that included several proposals of importance to the restaurant and foodservice industry.

The National Restaurant Association was in the middle of the fray, actively advocating restaurateurs’ priorities in an environment characterized by stiff political winds and bargaining between Congress and the administration.

While the congressional Republican leadership put a narrow immigration “fix” in the Commerce-State-Justice funding bill, the Association, along with a diverse coalition of groups, at press time was working to educate policymakers and the media about this issue in the hopes that a broader “fix” would be included in a remaining funding bill. The broader immigration reform package, known as the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA), would allow certain immigrants already living in the country—working and paying taxes— to obtain their green cards.

At an Oct. 31 press briefing on Capitol Hill, Association staff and leading immigration policy experts summarized the proposals being debated and talked about the prospects of a compromise being reached in order to assist these hundreds of thousands of immigrants, their families, their employers, and their communities.

President Clinton has said he would veto a bill that did not contain LIFA.

On the managed care front, it appears that the so-called Patients’ Bill of Rights is dead for the year, which would be a tremendous victory for employers who sponsor health care plans and for the employees who rely on that health care.

Under the bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), employers could be held liable for health care deci-sions made by the plan. Survey after survey demonstrate that employers—particularly small employers—would be forced to drop coverage if faced with such liability.

And while legislation that would allow associations to band together to offer health coverage to their members picked up speed during the 106th Congress and passed the House of Representatives, it ultimately failed to be approved by the Senate. This priority legislation for the Association was discussed extensively during the presidential campaign and will be revisited in the next Congress.

As for the minimum wage/tax package, high drama surrounding the issue continued at press time. The minimum wage/tax relief package was rolled into an even larger bill, which passed the House of Representatives Oct. 26 by a vote of 237 to 174, with 33 Democrats supporting passage and six Republicans opposing it. Senate debate was ongoing at press time.

Meantime, President Clinton wrote a letter to congressional leaders stating that if the current package is sent to him, which includes Medicare/Medicaid provisions he opposes, he would “have no choice but to veto it.”

Source: Washington Weekly-NRA

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