House Cloakroom: May 2-8, 2011

The House returns from a two week recess on Monday to begin tackling various issues across the policy spectrum. A possible raise of the debt ceiling will be the hot topic of the coming weeks as lawmakers begin deliberations on what serious measures will have to be included to receive their support for the raise. Other issues will be the main focus of the floor this week, though, as House leadership has signaled bills involving the healthcare, abortion funding, and gas prices.

On Monday evening, the House will vote on two bills under suspension of the rules naming a post office and court house. On Tuesday, the House will reconvene at noon to begin debate on a bill that would eliminate the mandatory funding for states to establish insurance exchanges from Obamacare and another to repeal the law’s automatic funding for school based health centers.

Wednesday, the House will vote on a bill that would permanently prevent federal dollars from funding abortion services.

To wrap up the week’s legislative activities, the House will debate Thursday one and possibly two of Natural Resource Chairman Doc Hasting’s bills involving expanding and expediting oil-drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico and in other areas as well as requiring action on lease applications. Gas prices around the nation have been soaring in recent months and House leadership has promised to make it a priority of their America’s Energy Initiative and their respective committees’ work in the month of May and going forward.

Major Floor Activity:

HR 1213 - To repeal mandatory funding provided to States in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges

HR 1214 - To repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction

HR 3 - No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

HR 1230 - Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act

HR 1229 - Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act

Major Committee Action:

  • The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing on the “Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Energy Future” and the “American Energy Initiative”.
  • The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on a “Review of Transportation Stimulus Efforts”.
  • The House Armed Services Committee will hold several hearings in its subcommittees regarding the 2012 Defense Reauthorization.

Senate Cloakroom: May 2-8, 2011

The Senate returns to Washington on Monday after a two week recess to turn to – yet again – the Small Business bill. Senator Reid filed cloture on this bill almost two months ago on March 10, and it seems that he is completely incapable to wrap up this process by allowing votes on Republican amendments. Hopefully, some progress will be made this week so the Senate can work to address the slew of issues that need attention.

Major Floor Action:

S. 493: SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011

Major Committee Action:

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, May 3 titled “Is the Distribution of Tax Burdens and Benefits Equitable?”. On Wednesday, May 4, they will hold another hearing to discuss budget enforcement mechanisms.

A hearing to discuss the situation in Afghanistan will be held also on Tuesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee .

Also on May 3, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee  will hold a hearing to discuss Natural Disaster Preparedness.

The Senate Armed Services Committee – Subcommittee on Strategic Forces will hold a hearing on Wednesday, May 4 to discuss the implementation of the New START Treaty.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, May 5 titled, “First, Do No Harm: Improving Health Quality and Patient Safety.”