Courtesy of new Washington DC intern Bobby Allyn, a quick recap of last week’s Hill activity:
In the House … The House passed two energy bills Thursday, One (HR 6052) giving transit agencies grants to expand services and subsidize fares, and the second (HR 6377) authorizing federal regulators to enact “emergency steps” to bolster oversight in oil futures trading. However, the hotly contested bill (HR 6251) failed to garner a two-thirds majority. It would have required energy companies to develop oil and natural gas on federal leases, an effort to combat soaring gas prices. Rep. Edward J. Markey told the Times, “After today’s vote, the G.O.P. now officially stands for the Gas and Oil Party.” A House Judiciary subcommittee on the US’ use of torture as a interrogation technique put the spotlight on David Addington, cheif of staff to the vice president. He circumvented questions about burying detainees alive and torturing detainee’s children. The Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions subcommittee help the first-ever hearing on transgender discrimination, after protection for transpeople was removed from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Rep. Barney Frank, who introduced ENDA, said that transgender people have “courageously dealt” with the feeling of “being trapped in the wrong body” and therefore should not be “denied protection.”
In the Senate … The Senate passed war supplemental spending bill, including a new GI Bill and billions in domestic spending, 92-6 Thursday night. The measure fell two votes short of passing Medicare legislation that would have forbid physicians from receiving pay cuts; Reid intends to bring the bill back up for a future vote, despite the White House’s veto threat. The supplemental bill allocated $162 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, $63 billion for college aid for military service members, $12.5 billion for unemployment benefits, and 2.7 billion in disaster relief for victims of the Midwest floods. Reid announced Thursday that a vote on renewing FISA will be postponed until after the Forth of July recess. Senate Democrats vehemently contested the provision that grants telecom companies with retroactive immunity from illegal wiretapping. Democrat Diane Feinstein told reporters that the bill will be voted on as soon as lawmakers return from recess. Reid also put off the housing market rescue bill until after the recess. The bill would assist hundreds of thousands of homeowners mired in mortgage debt by creating a multibillion-dollar fund that would allow homeowners to refinance their mortgages into affordable loans. The bill was halted by Senate Republicans who want more time to consider the legislation and Republican John Ensign who wants to add a renewable energy tax credit amendment.