The House leaves town at the end of the week, the Senate one week later, and hopes for a health care bill before they vacate are all but nil. (Tell Congress to stick around and get the job done here.) They won’t return until the second week of September, and meanwhile 14,000 people a day are losing their healthcare.
This week, Chairman Waxman continues negotiating with the conservative Blue Dog (pseudo)Democrats to try to get the House health care bill through his Energy and Commerce Committee. Even if the House could bring a bill to the floor for a vote, it probably won’t until it knows where the Senate is headed. House Dems don’t want to take a tough stand only to be left hung out to dry by Senate Dems as they strip the bill of a public option and a surcharge on the wealthy.
Over in the Senate, God only knows what Max Baucus is up to as he continues to try to woo brofriend Chuck Grassley. He’s now working with just six members of the Finance Committee — three Democrats (including him) and three Republicans. Majority Leader Harry "I’m no LBJ" Reid hopes to have the Baucus health care bill by the August recess so they can spend that month merging it with the decent Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee version.
Since the Senate won’t have a health care bill to vote on, it will take up the FY10 $34.2 billion Energy and Water Appropriations bill which — according to CongressDaily — includes $27.4 billion for the Energy Department, $5.4 billion for Army Corps of Engineers, and $1.1 billion for the Interior Department.
The House will consider the $636.3 billion FY10 Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate voted last week to discontinue the F-22 fighter jet (after the current 187 already authorized) and the House is expected to follow suit. It’s a small victory, but a very necessary one. If we couldn’t get this cut then we can’t get anything. Now other cuts remain possible.
The House will also need to address the Highway Trust Fund which will run out of money during the recess if no action is taken.
The House Financial Services Committee takes its first stab at the financial regulatory overhaul, with a markup tomorrow of the Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009 "to provide shareholders with an advisory vote on executive compensation and to prevent perverse incentives in the compensation practices of financial institutions."
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday. The only Republican who has announced his intention to vote for her is South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Other notable hearings: Senate Foreign Relations examines the Internally Displaced Persons Crisis in Pakistan on Wednesday, and a Comprehensive Strategy For Sudan on Thursday. (House Foreign Affairs also looks at Sudan and a Comprehensive Peace Agreement on Wednesday)…. Chairman John Tierney’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee holds a hearing tomorrow on The Plan for Withdrawal of US Assets from Iraq…. On Wednesday, House Armed Services examines "Psychological Stress in the Military: What Steps are Leaders Taking?"…. Keith Ernst, director of research at the Center for Responsible Lending, will testify tomorrow at a Joint Economic Committee hearing on preventing foreclosures…. On Thursday, House Judiciary looks at Reforming the Military Commissions System.
Finally, for US soccer fans — all 17 of us (and I count myself as one) — President Obama meets with FIFA President Sepp Blatter today, and CongressDaily reports that he will lobby for the US to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Here’s hoping for some Obama magic.