This week — a lot of appropriations work, more markups on health care legislation, the Senate gets started on its climate bill, and welcome Senator Al Franken….
The Senate is scheduled to take up the $3.1 billion Legislative Branch spending bill and the $42.9 billion Homeland Security bill. The House will vote on the $22.9 billion Agriculture bill, $48.8 billion State-Foreign Operations bill, and the $77.9 billion Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill. The FY10 intelligence authorization act is also expected on the House floor — there hasn’t been an intelligence authorization bill enacted since FY05.
Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committees will continue work on their respective health care bills this week. It remains to be seen whether the Senate Finance bill will include a public plan option. Sen. Schumer has been the strongest advocate for one on the Finance Committee, but on Face The Nation he was talking possible compromise through regional cooperatives, a weak alternative to HELP’s proposed HHS-run plan (which could also still be amended). The House will continue its work on a health care bill as well and plans on bringing legislation to the floor before summer recess begins on August 8. The Congressional Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus, Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Progressive Caucus, which together make up nearly 120 Members of the House and Senate — will continue their advocacy for a strong public option.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will get started on its climate bill which will probably be merged with the energy bill already approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Hearings will kickoff tomorrow when the Committee will hear from Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and EPA chief Lisa Jackson. The Republicans are bringing in Governor Haley Barbour, who replaced Mark Sanford as chair of the Republican Governors Association (note: Sanford is gone, but Sarah Palin’s mug is still on the RGA homepage. Any bets as to how long it will remain there?)
Work on transportation bills should start heating up this week. The Obama Administration announced last week that the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money in late August or early September. There is a bill to provide $20 billion for highway and transit infrastructure projects, which CongressDaily reports would last through March, 2011. Congressman James Oberstar is still pushing a $450 billion funding bill and $50 billion for high-speed rail. The Administration is also calling for a federal infrastructure bank — with $2 billion funded this year and an additional $5 billion next year — which would make grants and loans available “for projects that cross state lines or combine different modes of transportation.”
Notable hearings this week: the House Energy and Commerce Committee examines the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency on Wednesday…. On Thursday, House Financial Services looks at the proposed role of the Fed in regulatory reform…. Also on Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on “Home Foreclosures: Will Voluntary Mortgage Modification Help Families Save Their Homes?” (Chairman John Conyers has been a leading advocate for allowing bankruptcy judges to modify the principals on mortgages.)…. On Friday, a combined hearing — the House Agriculture and Financial Services Committees examines over-the-counter derivatives regulation…. On the lighter side, if you’re a college football fan and pissed off at the inane BCS rankings, check out the Senate Judiciary’s hearing on BCS Antitrust Compliance tomorrow…. Finally, this one has the makings of a B horror flick: Burmese pythons, the snakehead fish, and White Nose Syndrome — Sen. Ben Cardin chairs a hearing Wednesday on “Threats to Native Wildlife Species”, Senators Carl Levin and Bill Nelson are among the witnesses (not the threats).
President Obama is out of town this week — beginning with a summit in Moscow — where he will meet with Russian President Dimitrii Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He will also participate in G-8 meetings and visit the Pope in Italy, and deliver a speech in Ghana.