House Cloakroom:  May 17 – 21

House Analysis:

The House potentially has a full plate this week as Leadership tries to clear it’s plate before leaving for Memorial Day recess.  For a second week in a row the House failed to pass the Competes Act, which would authorize $48 billion over three years (originally $85.6 billion over five years) for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, and research programs at the Department of Energy. Despite many Republican concerns that the bill spends too much, creates too many new programs, and shifts money to climate change efforts, House Leadership may make a third attempt to pass the bill this week.  The tax extenders bill discussed in the Cloakroom last week was pulled from floor before consideration. The bill is reported to be $190 billion but only some of it is paid for, resulting in increased deficit spending estimated at around $100 billion.  Additionally, the temporary extensions that are paid for are done so with permanent tax increases. Expect this to be a very close vote as Democrats who anticipate close races in the fall are hesitant to support a bill that will add billions more to the deficit. The Defense Authorization bill was passed out of the House Armed Services Committee last week and will be brought up on the floor for a vote this week.  It authorizes budget authority for the Department of Defense, national security programs at the Department of Energy, overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also disaster assistance to Haiti.

Two additional other items worth mentioning include Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-MA) TARP III bill which would create a $30 billion lending program that would duplicate efforts made by the $700 billion original TARP bill.  Lastly the Democrat response to the Supreme Court case Citizens United was introduced and could be seen on the floor next week as well.  Heritage expert Hans von Spakovsky wrote about the Citizens United case here.

Total possible spending for the week … nearly $1,000,000,000,000 (that would be a trillion in case you don’t want to count the zeros). And still no signs Congress will pass a budget this year.

Major Floor Action:

  • H.R. 5325 – America COMPETES Reauthorization Act
  • H.R. 5136 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011
  • Tax Extender bill (text still not available)
  • H.R. 5297 – Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010 (aka TARP III)
  • H.R. 5175 – DISCLOSE Act

Major Committee Action:

  • The oil spill in the gulf continues to garner a great deal of Congressional attention.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will make appearances in front of both the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies during the week.  The Chairman and President of BP, Lamar McKay will testify the day after Secretary Salazar at the Natural Resources Committee.  The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment is also expected to hold a hearing on the oil spill.
  • The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere will hold a hearing on “U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation.”

Senate Cloakroom: May 24 -28


With the financial regulation and bailout bill behind them, the Senate will shift its focus to some housekeeping measures.  Of course, housekeeping items in Congress are rarely routine and this will be no exception.  Substantive issues remain with the war supplemental and massive extenders package crafted by House Democrats.  The biggest fight may be over jobs, though.  Senator Murkowski (R-AK) could bring her resolution of disapproval to the floor, forcing Senators to choose between jobs and costly EPA regulations.

Floor Action:

  • Senators will briefly revisit the financial regulation fight with two votes to instruct the conferees.
  • The Senate will proceed to the consideration of H.R. 4899, the Emergency Supplemental Bill.
  • A vote on jobs may occur this week if Senator Murkowski brings her resolution to the floor that would essentially veto EPA’s economically harmful global warming regulations.
  • Finally, Senators will seek to address several expiring provisions – including physician’s reimbursements, unemployment insurance and COBRA.  The House is expected to act first, but as indicated, substantial hurdles remain.

Committee Action: