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This Week in Congress: The Markup

September 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

After months of negotiations between a select groups of six bipartisan senators, Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] will take his health care bill to the full Senate Finance Committee this week to begin the actual process of debating, voting and amending. The Baucus bill is the Senate’s best chance for finding a bipartisan compromise that can pass under regular procedure. If the committee fails to markup a good compromise, the Democrats’ only option left for reforming the health care system will be to push a more progressive bill with only Democratic support through the budget reconciliation process.

Starting Tuesday morning, the Finance Committee will meet to vote on amendments to the legislation as released last week by Senator Baucus. Already, the committee’s 23 members have proposed a whopping 564 amendment – a direct result of the non-inclusive process that produced the underlying legislation.

The most important votes will be on amendments related to a public insurance option. The bill Baucus released last week does not contain a public plan. Instead, it proposes to establish private, non-profit health insurance co-ops. Most Democrats on the committee think that the co-ops wouldn’t be big enough to actually put pressure on the private companies to lower their costs. They’re proposing amendments to replace the co-op proposal with a public option plan similar to what the four other congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation have already passed.

Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME], the Republican most most likely to side with the Democrats on heath care reform, is proposing an amendment to add a trigger mechanism to the bill that would set up a public insurance plan in states that fail to provide affordable insurance to at least 95 percent of residents through the bills other reforms. Liberal Democrats who support a robust public option are expected to oppose Snowe’s amendment even though it’s probably the best grounds for a compromise in this contentious area of the legislation.

Other amendments include a proposal to removes the bill’s individual mandate requiring every American to either get insurance or pay a tax penalty, removing a plan to levy new fees on insurers and drug companies, and stopping a proposed expansion of Medicaid to all Americans earning below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. It’s going to be a long and slow process, and we’ll be watching it and reporting back on this blog, so stay tuned.

Of course, there’s a lot more going on this week as well. Below are the full floor schedules for the House and Senate.

In the House this week:


The House will meet at 4:00 p.m. in pro forma session.



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 (15 Bills)

  1. H.R. 860 - Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2009 (Rep. Bordallo – Natural Resources)
  2. H.R. 1080 – Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2009 (Rep. Bordallo – Natural Resources)
  3. H.R. 2802 - To provide for an extension of the legislative authority of the Adams Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in honor of former President John Adams and his legacy (Rep. Delahunt – Natural Resources)
  4. H.R. 3113 – Upper Elk River Wild and Scenic Study Act (Rep. Rahall – Natural Resources)
  5. H.R. 2265 – Magna Water District Water Reuse and Groundwater Recharge Act of 2009 (Rep. Chaffetz – Natural Resources)
  6. H.Res. 670 – Congratulating and saluting the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for celebrating its 75th anniversary, commending the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for its contributions to the preservation of wildlife and the native ecology of the Appalachian Mountains and eastern Pennsylvania, and commending the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for its dedication to educating the public and the international community about wildlife conservation (Rep. Dent – Natural Resources)
  7. H.Res. 599 – Honoring the Minute Man National Historical Park on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary (Rep. Markey (MA) – Natural Resources)
  8. H.Res. 688 – Expressing support for the goals and ideals of the first annual National Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Day taking place on September 26, 2009 (Rep. Titus – Natural Resources)
  9. H.R. 2522 – To raise the ceiling on the Federal share of the cost of the Calleguas Municipal Water District Recycling Project (Rep. Gallegly – Natural Resources)
  10. H.R. 2741 – To amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the City of Hermiston, Oregon, water recycling and reuse project (Rep. Walden – Natural Resources)
  11. H.R. 2971 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 630 Northeast Killingsworth Avenue in Portland, Oregon, as the “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Post Office” (Rep. Blumenauer – Oversight and Government Reform)
  12. H.Res. 441 – Honoring the historical contributions of Catholic sisters in the United States (Rep. Kaptur – Oversight and Government Reform)
  13. H.R. 2215 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 140 Merriman Road in Garden City, Michigan, as the “John J. Shivnen Post Office Building” (Rep. McCotter – Oversight and Government Reform)
  14. H.Con.Res. 163 – Expressing support for designation of September 23, 2009, as “National Job Corps Day” (Rep. Moran (KS) – Oversight and Government Reform)
  15. H.R. 3548 - Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (Rep. McDermott – Ways and Means)



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 (13 Bills)

  1. S. 1677 -  Defense Production Act Reauthorization of 2009 (Sen. Dodd – Financial Services)
  2. H.Res. 733 – Expressing condolences to the people and government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the aftermath of the devastating typhoon that struck the central and southern regions of the island on August 8, 2009 (Rep. Gingrey – Foreign Affairs)
  3. H.R. 3593To amend the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 to extend by one year the operation of Radio Free Asia (Rep. Royce – Foreign Affairs)
  4. H.Con.Res. 178 – Expressing the sense of the Congress that we honor, commemorate and celebrate the historic ties of the United States and the Netherlands by recognizing the Quadricentennial celebration of the discovery of the Hudson River and the settlement and enduring values of New Netherland which permeate American society up until today (Rep. Van Hollen – Foreign Affairs)
  5. H.R. 2131 – To amend the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 to reauthorize the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (Rep. Watson – Foreign Affairs)
  6. H.Con.Res. 74 – Supporting the goals and ideals of a decade of action for road safety with a global target to reduce by 50 percent the predicted increase in global road deaths between 2010 and 2020 (Rep. Wexler – Foreign Affairs)
  7. H.Res. 491 – Encouraging each institution of higher education in the country to seek membership in the Service members Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium (Rep. Adler – Education and Labor)
  8. H.Res. 684 – Recognizing and honoring Howard University School of Law’s 140-year legacy of social justice and its continued commitment to the training of capable and compassionate legal practitioners and scholars (Rep. Kilpatrick – Education and Labor)
  9. H.Res. 696 – Acknowledging and congratulating Western Wyoming Community College in Southwest Wyoming on the occasion of its 50th anniversary of service to the students and citizens of the State of Wyoming (Rep. Lummis – Education and Labor)
  10. H.Res. 455 – Congratulating the Wichita State University men’s and women’s bowling teams for winning the 2009 United States Bowling Congress Intercollegiate Bowling National Championship (Rep. Tiahrt – Education and Labor)
  11. H.R. __ – To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 (Rep. Velazquez – Small Business)
  12. H.R. ___ - Fiscal Year 2010 Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act (Rep. Oberstar – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  13. H.R. ___ - Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2009 (Rep. Oberstar – Transportation and Infrastructure)


H.R. 324 - Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act (Rep. Grijalva – Natural Resources) (Subject to a Rule)


H.J.Res. __ – Making Continuing Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2010, and for other purposes (Rep. Obey – Appropriations) (Subject to a Rule)

And in the Senate:

Convenes: 2:00pm. Morning Business until 3:00pm with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each.
Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R.2996, Interior Appropriations. There will be no roll call votes on Monday, September 21.

The full committee schedule for the week in both chambers can be found at Congress Matters.

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