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This Week in Washington – October 11, 2011

The President’s ideas on creating government funded jobs and three free trade agreements are two big issues for Congress this week.  This week is shortened by the Columbus Day holiday.

The House is expected to sent three free trade agreements this week to the Senate and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to the President’s desk.  TAA is a liberal welfare program that provides resources and job traning to those who lose jobs as a result of trade.  Expect a battle in the Senate on a version of the President’s so called American Jobs Act and a Republican bill addressing job creation bill. 

The Senate is not taking up the same bill that President Obama submitted to Congress because of the tax provisions in the President’s plan.  Senate Democrats don’t want to vote for increased taxes on individuals making $200K and families making $250K. 

The AP has an excellent analysis explaining why the President’s rhetoric is not matching up with the reality of his American Jobs Act.

When Obama accuses Republicans of standing in the way of his nearly $450 billion plan, he ignores the fact that his own party has struggled to unite behind the proposal. When the president says Republicans haven’t explained what they oppose in the plan, he skips over the fact that Republicans who control the House actually have done that in detail. And when he calls on Congress to “pass this bill now,” he slides past the point that Democrats control the Senate and were never prepared to move immediately, given other priorities. Senators are expected to vote Tuesday on opening debate on the bill, a month after the president unveiled it with a call for its immediate passage.

The leader of the Senate is a Democrat, therefore it defies logic to accuse Republicans of holding up the President’s jobs bill.  Senate Democrats have refuse to introduce the President’s jobs bill containing the President’s ideas on tax increases. Senate Democrats are introducing a new version of the American Jobs Act with modifications to the tax language.  If the President’s bill were to come up in the Senate this week intact, it would not get a majority of support in the Democrat controlled Senate.

On Tuesday, the House will consider 6 items on the suspension calendar H.R. 2433 (Veterans Opportunity to Work Act),  H.R. 2074 (Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act), H.R. 2302 (a bill dealing with notification of Congress about conferences sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs), H.R. 2349 (Veterans’ Benefits Training Improvement Act),  H.R. 1263(a measure to provide surviving spouses of service members protections against mortgage foreclosure),  and H.R. 1025 (a bill to modify the definition of veteran). 

The House will finish consideration of an EPA regulatory reform bill, H.R. 2250, and then move on to the three pending free trade agreements.  The House is expected to pass the following free trade agreements this week: U.S. – Columbia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act (H.R. 3078), U.S. Panama Promotion Agreement Implementation Act (H.R. 3079), and  - U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (H.R. 3080).  TAA (H.R. 2832) is expected to come up under a structured rule whereby TAA is not transmitted to the President until the three free trade agreements are passed by the House and/or Senate.

The Senate is scheduled to have three roll call votes today.  The first is on a nomination today, followed by a final passage on on the China currency bill (S. 1619) and cloture on the motion to proceed to the American Jobs Act (S. 1660). 

A debate is expected on a Republican version if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) allows debate on a competing version.  Last week, Senator Reid pulled the Nuclear Option trigger in order to abolish the opportunity for Republicans to offer amendments post cloture.  This strong arm move by Reid effectively shut off the power of individual Senators to offer amendments to bill, unless if they receive the consent of Senator Reid.

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