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This Week in Washington – May 24, 2010

This week is the last week of work for the House and Senate before the Memorial Day recess and these are the times when taxpayers should keep a close eye on elites on Capitol Hill. Keep an eye on all of the expensive ideas up for a vote, because this week could prove very expensive for the American people if Congress passes every “must pass” bill. The big issues this week are consideration of an expensive War Supplemental, an expensive Tax Extenders Bill, Financial Services Reform and more oversight hearings on the slow federal response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the temperature heats up in Washington, conservatives need to stand up against the red hot urge on the part of Washington elites to spend, spend, and spend more of your money.

The issues to watch in Washington this week are the following:

  • Conference on Financial Services – The House and Senate are preparing for a conference on Financial Services “Reform,” yet the conference may prove to be a Kabuki dance where Democrats write the bill in private and Republicans feign anger in public. The fix is in. According to Politico, on senior Senate Republican aid said “Democrats will try to get together and work out differences on their own, and the White House will be involved and then they will try to offer a manager’s type of amendment and move it.” So the real conference will happen behind closed doors without C-SPAN cameras and it will be between Senate Democrats, House Democrats and the Obama Administration. More from Politico, “Republicans embraced the conference committee and (Congressman Barney) Frank’s C-SPAN pledge because it gives them one more public platform to press their vision of reform — and score points.” If you believe Politico, Republicans will use a conference to score political points. They seem more interested in looking angry on C-SPAN than in defeating a terrible bill. “As they did during the health care debate, Republicans plan to box Democrats into a corner, calling for a level of transparency that neither party has ever practiced and hitting them when they fail to live up to it. The line of attack has worked effectively in an election year when voters are suspicious and angry about government.” It seems that both Republicans and Democrats are more interested in scoring political points than in protecting the American people from Washington’s slow bleed of free enterprise.
  • Tax Extenders Bill – This week both the House and Senate are expected to take up a so called “Tax Extenders” bill. The would raise $40 billion in revenue, yet that does not even come close to paying for the $174 billion in additional federal spending according to CNN Money. “The legislation would extend a host of tax breaks, give continued relief to the unemployed, delay cuts to doctors’ Medicare reimbursements, provide support for job growth and fund disaster relief, among other things.” The Washington Post reports that “House leaders view the spending package scheduled to reach the floor Tuesday as must-pass legislation, saying it would shore up support among key constituencies heading into the November elections. In addition to renewing a laundry list of popular tax credits and deductions, the measure would extend unemployment benefits through the rest of this year and set aside $24 billion to help states close huge budget gaps without layoffs or new taxes.” Taxpayers need to know that under the cloak of the title “Tax Extenders” is an effort on the part of the federal government to bail out states who overspend and to extend unemployment benefits without offsetting new spending. More from the Wash Post, “Congressional budget analysts have yet to calculate the price of the package, but senior Democratic aides said it could approach $200 billion, most of it unpaid for by new revenue. Among the big-ticket items is a proposal to postpone until 2014 a scheduled pay cut for doctors who see Medicare patients. While many members favor the delay, its $65 billion cost is causing heartburn in both parties.” $65 billion may not be much money to elites in Washington, D.C., but it is significant to people who live in the real world. Expect conservatives in the House and Senate to fight to offset this new spending.
  • War Supplemental- Remember all the complaints from the left that Republicans refused to pay for the War in Iraq and Afghanistan? Well now the left in Congress is trying to pass a War Supplemental bill without offsetting the cost. It seems like over-spenders in Congress can’t find one program to cut so they can pay for a war supplemental. The Washington Post reports, “while the House grapples with the tax bill, the Senate will focus this week on a $60 billion war bill that would finance an additional 30,000 troops for the conflict in Afghanistan. The Obama administration is urging lawmakers to add $23 billion in that bill to help cash-strapped officials avoid laying off up to 300,000 public school teachers this summer.” So not only is the “Tax Extenders” bill becoming loaded up with expensive programs not related to the extension of expiring taxes and tax credits, the “War Supplemental” is also being loaded up with matters completely unrelated to the title of the bill. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) released the following statement about the War Supplemental, “this bill will be an important test of whether politicians in Washington are ready to listen to the American people and do their job of budgeting.” More from Coburn, “The emergency designation of this bill is a farce designed to evade budget rules that require Congress to pay for new spending. By definition, emergency spending must be unforeseen. The last day war funding was unforeseen was September 10, 2001.” What happens with these bills is that they are designated as “emergency spending” so that the bill can evade the Pay-As-You-Go budgeting rules that require all new spending to be offset with cuts or new revenue. Coburn argues that “for the past nine years both parties have enabled the other’s desire to avoid hard choices.” Coburn is expected to offer amendments to the War Supplemental bill to offset the cost bill. Coburn further argues that “this legislation is designed to bail out career politicians who want to avoid the hard work of prioritizing spending.” Thankfully, one conservative in Washington is standing up for the taxpayer this week and it is Senator Tom Coburn.

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

The Senate Convenes: 2:00pm

There will be a period of morning business until 3:00pm with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each.

At 3:00pm, the Senate will proceed to the consideration of H.R.4899, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.

At approximately 5:30pm, the Senate will proceed to a series of 2 roll call votes. Those votes will be in relation to the Brownback and Hutchison motions to instruct conferees with respect to Wall Street Reform.

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

MONDAY, MAY 24, 2010

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

Suspensions (13 Bills)

  1. H.Res. 1258- Expressing support for designation of May 2010 as Mental Health Month (Rep. Napolitano – Energy and Commerce)
  2. H.Res. 1382 - Expressing sympathy to the families of those killed by North Korea in the sinking of the Republic of Korea Ship Cheonan, and solidarity with the Republic of Korea in the aftermath of this tragic incident (Rep. Faleomavaega – Foreign Affairs)
  3. H.Res. 584- Recognizing the importance of manufactured and modular housing in the United States (Rep. Donnelly – Financial Services)
  4. H.Con.Res. 137- Expressing the sense of the Congress that the lack of adequate housing must be addressed as a barrier to effective HIV prevention, treatment, and care, and that the United States should make a commitment to providing adequate funding for developing housing as a response to the AIDS pandemic (Rep. Nadler – Financial Services)
  5. H.R. 5330 - Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Extension Act (Rep. Johnson (GA) – Judiciary)
  6. H.R. 1017- Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act (Rep. Filner – Veterans’ Affairs)
  7. H.Con.Res. 278- Expressing the sense of Congress that a grateful Nation supports and salutes Sons and Daughters in Touch on its 20th Anniversary that is being held on Father’s Day, 2010, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, the District of Columbia (Rep. Halvorson – Veterans’ Affairs)
  8. H.R. 3885 – Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act (Rep. Brown (SC) – Veterans’ Affairs)
  9. H.R. 5145- Assuring Quality Care for Veterans Act (Rep. McNerney – Veterans’ Affairs)
  10. H.Res. 1353 – Supporting the goals and ideals of Student Financial Aid Awareness Month to raise awareness of student financial aid (Rep. Bishop (NY) – Education and Labor)
  11. H.Res. 1169- Honoring the 125th anniversary of Rollins College (Rep. Grayson – Education and Labor)
  12. H.Res. 1161 – Honoring the Centennial Celebration of Women at Marquette University, the first Catholic university in the world to offer co-education as part of its regular undergraduate program (Rep. Moore (WI) – Education and Labor)
  13. H.Res. 1372- Honoring the University of Georgia Graduate School on the occasion of its centennial (Rep. Broun – Education and Labor)

TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK

On Tuesday, On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.

Suspensions (5 Bills)

  1. H.R. 2711 – FBI Families of Fallen Heroes Act (Rep. Rogers (MI) – Oversight and Government Reform)
  2. H.Res. 1172- Recognizing the life and achievements of Will Keith Kellogg (Rep. Schauer – Oversight and Government Reform)
  3. H.Res. 1189- Commending Lance Mackey on winning a record 4th straight Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (Rep. Young (AK) – Oversight and Government Reform)
  4. H.Res. 1316 – Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (Rep. Honda – Oversight and Government Reform)
  5. H.Res. 1385- Recognizing and honoring the courage and sacrifice of the members of the Armed Forces and veterans (Rep. Skelton – Armed Services)

Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendment 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)

H.R. 5136- National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (Rep. Skelton – Armed Services) (Subject to a Rule)

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

Possible Consideration of H.R. 5175- Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (Rep. Van Hollen – House Administration) (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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