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This Week in Washington – May 17, 2010

Last week was America’s introduction to liberal Elena Kagan.  The vetting of President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, will continue this week and we shall see how the least experienced nominee in our collective lifetimes fares in her second week of consideration by the American people.  Conservatives assailed Kagan over the weekend for breaking the law in banning the military from recruiting on the campus of the Harvard Law School.  Newt Gingrich called on the President to pull Kagan’s nomination.  This is a classic battle of the Obama Administration spin machine versus conservatives who worry about Elena Kagan’s judicial philosophy.

There are two weeks of Congressional work before members take a break for the Memorial Day recess.  This week should be the final Senate vote on Financial Services Reform.  The House and the Senate may take up a tax bill.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a hearing on the START Treaty.  Also, five hearing in Congressional Committees looking at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

Issues to watch this week:

  • Elena Kagan-  One conservatives came out strongly against Elena Kagan’s actions in banning military recruitment from official Harvard Law School recruitment activities and job fairs.  The Washington Post reports that on This Week, “Sen. Jeff Sessions(Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Kagan of violating the law when she was dean of Harvard Law School between 2003 and 2008. During her tenure, she continued the school’s restrictions on campus military recruitment because of the armed forces’ ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that bans openly gay people from serving.”  Another conservative flat out called for the President to send a new nominee to the Senate.  Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, called on the President to pull the Kagan nomination.  From The Hill, “The two top senators on the Judiciary Committee went head-to-head over Kagan’s record on military recruitment, a recurrent theme on the Sunday news shows and an issue that prompted Newt Gingrich to say on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that President Barack Obama should pull the nomination.  ‘You don’t need a whole lot of hearings,’ the former House Speaker said. ‘The very fact that she led the effort, which was repudiated unanimously by the Supreme Court, to block the American military from Harvard Law School — we’re in two wars, and I see no reason why you would appoint an anti-military Supreme Court justice or why the Senate would confirm an anti-military Supreme Court justice.’”  The Associated Pressreports that one Republican representing leadership has already surrendered the use of the filibuster on the nomination of Elena Kagan.  AP reports that “Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is unlikely to face a GOP filibuster but should expect difficult questions from lawmakers who will decide whether she deserves the lifetime appointment despite having no judicial experience, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican said Sunday. ‘The filibuster should be relegated to the extreme circumstances, and I don’t think Elena Kagan represents that,’ said Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”  There is no way to know on what basis or information Senator Kyl possesses that leads him to remove the threat of a filibuster on Kagan on behalf of conservatives.  Week two of the nomination of Elena Kagan should be interesting and educational.
  • Financial Services Deform – Financial Services Reform should be completed by the end of this week.  According to National Journal there are four amendments expected to get votes on Monday from Senators Udall (D-CO) regarding free credit scores, Senator Cornyn (R-TX) on the IMF bailout of Greece, Senator Rockefeller (R-W.Va). on FTC rule making authority and Senator Bond (R-MO) dealing with start-up companies.  This legislation should be completed by the end of the week and the Senate is expected to shift to work on tax issues as part of the “tax extenders” legislation winding through the House.  The next step for the ObamaBailout bill is a conference with the House.
  • START Treaty – Tomorrow at 10am, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a hearing on the START Treaty with testimony provided by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Muller, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The START Treaty is the arms control treaty negotiated between the United States and Russia that purports to reduce the nuclear stockpiles of both nations.  Conservatives argue that this treaty will undermine missile defense, elevates Russia as a nuclear power and ignores the threats posed by Iran and North Korea.  The Heritage Foundation has put out a paper titled, “An Independent Assessment of the New Start Treaty” that contains some educational materials on the treaty.

The schedule for the Senate this week according to the Senate Majority Leader’s web site:

The Senate Convenes: 2:00pm       

The Senate will resume consideration of S.3217, Wall Street Reform.

Votes:  A series of votes is expected to begin at 5:30pm on Monday, May 17.

The schedule for the House this week according to the House Majority Leader’s web site:

MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010

On Monday, the House is not in session.

TUESDAY, MAY 18, 2010

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:30 p.m. for Morning Hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Suspensions (18 Bills)

  1. H.R. 2288 - Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Improvement Act (Rep. Salazar – Natural Resources)
  2. H.Con.Res. 211 – Recognizing the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the East Bay Regional Park District in California (Rep. George Miller – Natural Resources)
  3. H.R. 4491- Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act (Rep. Speier – Natural Resources)
  4. H.R. 4493 - To provide for the enhancement of visitor services, fish and wildlife research, and marine and coastal resource management on Guam related to the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument(Rep. Bordallo – Natural Resources)
  5. H.R. 3511- Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Visitor Facility Authorization Act (Rep. Sablan – Natural Resources)
  6. H.Res. 1327- Honoring the life, achievements, and contributions of Floyd Dominy(Rep. Smith (NE) – Natural Resources)
  7. H.R. 1514- Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Program Reauthorization Act (Rep. Scott (VA) – Judiciary)
  8. H.Res. 1325 – Recognizing National Missing Children’s Day (Rep. Rooney – Judiciary)
  9. H.Res. __Celebrating the Life and Achievements of Lena Mary Calhoun Horne(Reps. Conyers/Clarke – Judiciary)
  10. S. 1782- Federal Judiciary Administrative Improvements Act of 2010 (Sen. Whitehouse – Judiciary)
  11. H.R. __ - Patent and Trademark Office Fee Modernization Act of 2010(Rep. Conyers – Judiciary)
  12. H.Res. __Honoring the historic and community significance of the Chatham County Courthouse and expressing condolences to Chatham County and the town of Pittsboro for the fire damage sustained by the courthouse on March 25, 2010(Rep. Etheridge – Judiciary)
  13. H.R. 4614- Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2010 (Rep. Teague – Judiciary)
  14. H.R. 5099- To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 15 South Main Street in Sharon, Massachusetts, as the “Michael C. Rothberg Post Office” (Rep. Frank – Oversight and Government Reform)
  15. H.Res. 1256- Congratulating Phil Mickelson on winning the 2010 Masters golf tournament (Rep. Broun – Oversight and Government Reform)
  16. H.Res. 403 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that there should be established a National Teacher Day to honor and celebrate teachers in the United States (Rep. Klein – Oversight and Government Reform)
  17. H.Res. 1297- Supporting the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week (Rep. Markey (CO) – Oversight and Government Reform)
  18. H.Res. 792- Honoring Robert Kelly Slater for his outstanding and unprecedented achievements in the world of surfing and for being an ambassador of the sport and excellent role model (Rep. Posey – Oversight and Government Reform)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2010 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK

On Wednesday the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business and recess immediately. At approximately 11:00 a.m., the House will convene in a Joint Meeting with the Senate for the purpose of receiving an address from His Excellency Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of the United Mexican States. On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.

Suspensions (9 Bills)

  1. H.R. 2136 - Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act (Rep. Fudge – Education and Labor)
  2. H.Res. 1292- Congratulating the Emporia State University Lady Hornets women’s basketball team for winning the 2010 NCAA Division II National Championship (Rep. Moran (KS) – Education and Labor)
  3. H.Res. 1336 – Congratulating the University of Texas men’s swimming and diving team for winning the NCAA Division I national championship (Rep. Smith (TX) – Education and Labor)
  4. H.Res. 996 – Expressing support for designation of September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (Rep. Fudge – Energy and Commerce)
  5. H.Res. 713 – Recognizing the significant contributions of United States automobile dealerships, and expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that in the interest of equity, automobile dealers whose franchises have been terminated through no fault of their own be given an opportunity of first consideration once the auto market rebounds and stabilizes (Rep. Al Green – Energy and Commerce)
  6. H.R. 2546- Blue Star/Gold Star Flag Act (Rep. Boccieri – Financial Services)
  7. H.R. 1177 – 5-Star Generals Commemorative Coin Act (Rep. Moore (KS) – Financial Services)
  8. H.R. 5128 – To designate the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, District of Columbia, as the “Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building” (Rep. Heinrich – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  9. H.Res. 1339- Expressing support for designation of May as National Foster Care Month and acknowledging the responsibility that Congress has to promote safety, well-being, improved outcomes, and permanency for the Nation’s collective children. (Rep. McDermott – Ways and Means)

Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendments with a House Amendment to H.R. 4213 – The American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act (Rep. Levin – Ways and Means) (Subject to a Rule)

Further Action on The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Rep. Gordon – Science and Technology) (Subject to a Rule)

* Conference Reports may be brought up at any time.

* Motions to go to Conference should they become available. 

* Possible Motions to Instruct Conferees.

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