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This Week in Congress: The Big Votes Loom

September 28, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

So far, Sen. Max Baucus’ [D, MT] health care bill remains unscathed by major amendments. But the most important amendments are coming up this week as the Senate Finance Committee begins week two of its mark-up. Votes on the public option and Sen. Olympia Snowe’s [R, ME] “trigger” are expected as early as tomorrow with Chairman Baucus hoping for a final vote on the bill by Friday.

The amendment to replace Baucus’ co-op plan with a public insurance option like the one included in the other health care bills in Congress is sponsored by Sen. John Rockefeller [D, WV] and Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY]. To the extent that Baucus’ bill is a compromise, the fact that it excludes a public option in favor of a co-op plan is a central feature. Baucus and Sen. Kent Conrad [D, ND], the co-op plan’s main proponent, are expected to vote against the amendment to add a public option to the bill, even though they have both signaled an openness to such a plan. As they showed last week in rejecting an amendment that would have flown against the secret deal struck between the White House and Big PhRMA, their primary concern is on keeping together whatever potential for bipartisan support they have with their bill.

Olympia Snowe’s “trigger” amendment is probably the most important vote the Committee will take. The amendment would trigger the creation of a public option in states where insurance coverage isn’t expanded enough once the bill’s other reforms take effect. More specifically, if a state does not have at least two exchange-qualifying insurance plans that cost less than 13% of adjusted gross income for at least 95% of the population, the federal government would automatically establish a state-wide public plan. Snowe, the most likely Republican in Congress to vote with Democrats on a final health care bill, has hung her support for the bill on this amendment.

But, despite the fact that it would move the Baucus bill a little to the left, some liberal Democrats on the Committee are expected to vote against the amendment. They want a public option and won’t support any compromises. The deciding votes on the amendment will likely come from Baucus and Conrad, who probably support it in a lot of ways. But the fact that they didn’t include it in the underlying bill indicates that they may try to vote it down. If the amendment passes, it will likely become the basis for plan in the final bill that Senate leaders will bring to the full Senate for debate.

Congress isn’t in session today because of Yom Kippur. When they return tomorrow, there will be the usual slate of bills on the floor of both chambers, but the real action is going to be happening in the Senate Finance Committee with health care reform. Now’s a good time to read the Baucus health care bill and get familiar with this proposal that is likely to form the backbone of the health care bill that President Obama signs into law.

Here are the bills coming to the House floor this week:


On Monday, the House will not be in 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 (12 Bills)

  1. H.R. 685 - United States Civil Rights Trail System Act of 2009 (Rep. Clay – Natural Resources)
  2. H.R. 2442 – Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act of 2009 (Rep. George Miller – Natural Resources)
  3. H.R. 2950 – To direct the Secretary of the Interior to allow for prepayment of repayment contracts between the United States and the Uintah Water Conservancy District (Rep. Matheson – Natural Resources)
  4. H.R. 3123 – Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Remediation Act of 2009 (Rep. Lamborn – Natural Resources)
  5. H.R. 905 – Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve Boundary Modification Act (Rep. Stupak – Natural Resources)
  6. H.R. 1771 – Chesapeake Bay Science, Education, and Ecosystem Enhancement Act of 2009 (Rep. Sarbanes – Natural Resources)
  7. H.R. 1053 – Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act of 2009 (Rep. Wittman – Natural Resources)
  8. H.Res. 16 – Supporting the goals and ideals of National Life Insurance Awareness Month (Rep. Biggert – Oversight and Government Reform)
  9. H.Res. 693 – Honoring the life and accomplishments of Jim Johnson and extending the condolences of the House of Representatives to his family on the occasion of his death (Rep. Brady (PA) – Oversight and Government Reform)
  10. H.Con.Res. 186 – Supporting the goals and ideals of Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month (Rep. Davis (IL) – Oversight and Government Reform)
  11. H.Res. 725 – Congratulating the Chula Vista Park View Little League team of Chula Vista, California, for winning the 2009 Little League World Series Championship (Rep. Filner – Oversight and Government Reform)
  12. H.Res. 734 – Expressing the support for and honoring September 17, 2009 as “Constitution Day” (Rep. Latta – Oversight and Government Reform)



On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. On Friday, no votes are expected in the House.


Suspensions (16 Bills)

  1. H.Res. 731 - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the employees of the Department of Homeland Security, their partners at all levels of government, and the millions of emergency response providers and law enforcement agents nationwide should be commended for their dedicated service on the Nation’s front lines in the war against acts of terrorism (Rep. Clarke – Homeland Security)
  2. H.Res. 517 – Congratulating the University of Washington women’s softball team for winning the 2009 Women’s College World Series (Rep. McDermott – Education and Labor)
  3. H.Res. 769 – Recognizing the benefits of service-learning as a teaching strategy to effectively engage youth in the community and classroom, and expressing support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge (Rep. Platts – Education and Labor)
  4. H.Res. 487 – Recognizing the 100th anniversary of the State News at Michigan State University (Rep. Rogers (MI) – Education and Labor)
  5. H.Res. 90 – Supporting the goals and ideals of National Campus Safety Awareness Month (Rep. Sestak – Education and Labor)
  6. S.Con.Res. 41 – A concurrent resolution providing for the acceptance of a statue of Helen Keller, presented by the people of Alabama (Sen. Sessions – House Administration)
  7. H.Res. 692 – Supporting the goals and ideals of Tay-Sachs Awareness Month (Rep. Arcuri – Energy and Commerce)
  8. H.Res. 314 – Honoring and saluting Hillerich & Bradsby Co. on the 125th anniversary of the Louisville Slugger (Rep. Yarmuth – Energy and Commerce)
  9. S. 1289 - Foreign Evidence Request Efficiency Act of 2009 (Sen. Whitehouse – Judiciary)
  10. H.R. 1727 – Managing Arson Through Criminal History Act of 2009 (Rep. Bono Mack – Judiciary)
  11. H.Res. 757 – Supporting the goals and ideals of a National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims (Rep. Edwards (MD) – Judiciary)
  12. H.R. 1333 – Exempts the transportation, shipment, receipt, or importation of explosive materials for delivery to a federally recognized Indian tribe or an agency of such a tribe from various Federal criminal prohibitions relating to explosives (Rep. Grijalva – Judiciary)
  13. H.Res. 739 – Honoring the life and achievements of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug for his many contributions to alleviating world hunger (Rep. Boswell – Foreign Affairs)
  14. H.Con.Res. 151 – Expressing the sense of Congress that China release democratic activist Liu Xiaobo from imprisonment (Rep. Minnick – Foreign Affairs)
  15. H.Con.Res. 51 – Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty (Rep. Tiberi – Foreign Affairs)
  16. S. 1707 – Authorizing appropriations for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to promote an enhanced strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people (Sen. Kerry/Rep. Berman – Foreign Affairs)


Conference Report on H.R. 3183 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (Rep. Pastor – Appropriations) (Subject to a Rule)

And here’s what we know will be happening in the Senate:

Convenes: 11:30am 
Morning Business until 1:30pm.
1:30pm resume consideration of H.R.3326, Defense Appropriations.
4:30pm turn to Executive Session and debate nomination of Jeffrey Viken to be United States District Judge Judge for the District of South Dakota.
5:30pm vote on confirmation of the nomination.

As always, Congress Matters has the full committee schedule for the week.

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Anonymous 09/28/2009 8:34am

What About HR3548? we are about to lose everything HELP! ! !

donnyshaw 09/28/2009 9:45am
in reply to Anonymous Sep 28, 2009 8:34am

The Senate is notoriously bad at posting their legislative schedules. Even though only one bill is listed, it’s likely that more will be taken up this week. Keep checking here:

Mnwolf 09/28/2009 10:03am

This kills me that they can take and put healthcare at the front of everything and stay close minded on this one thing and only this one thing, We as regular people are expected to multi task everything thing we do, not just do one thing and then move on to the next, With the amount of people that have lost their benifits and are going to here soon… I don’t see why they don’t practice a little bit of multi tasking themselves and push S. 1699 H.R. 3548 sister through to the president so that it gets passed and we the ones out of work can have some piece of mind that we still may make it out of this mess alive!!

lopez522 09/28/2009 1:17pm

OMG!!! I was hoping Monday would be the day that they would just pass this bill already. I’m losing my house, my family and am about to be out on the streets. I was a working professional until 2 yrs ago and haven’t been able to land a full-time job. I am a freelancer working from home without insurance, making just enough to make my car payment. Please pass this bill already. I could really use this extra help to just get by for a little while longer.

oderintdummetuant 09/29/2009 4:32am
in reply to Anonymous Sep 28, 2009 7:57pm

Yeah, but the problem is the majority of the population DON’T support H.R. 3200. Health CARE reform…YES, Health INSURANCE regulation….YES. Government funded and administered Health Insurance…NO.

Anonymous 09/29/2009 6:57am

I can’t believe that the senate is so slow at passing the H.R. 3548 Emergency Unemployment Extention Bill! Do they realize that people like myself are 60 days past due on rent & other bills?? I’ve been keeping track of this bill & see no movement since Sept.22nd. Bad enough everything was on hold for the month of August. Also, I don’t want to hear Americans who are working & comfortable to judge those of us who’s had a work permit since 14yrs old,used it, paid federal, state, & city taxes all those years and have asked for a little bit of help from the government!! People like them are heartless because, this isn’t a Big Wonderful Situation 2 enjoy when U R barely surviving & about 2 loose Everything with so Little Help!!! Come U.S Government!! U R Moving in this matter like U did with Hurricane KATRINA!! SHAME!!

Anonymous 09/29/2009 7:28am
in reply to Anonymous Sep 28, 2009 8:34am


Anonymous 09/29/2009 1:39pm

I have been watching the senate on t.v. all day and they posted they will be looking at 3548 maybe this week.BIG DEAL. Everyone should e-mail the chairman at the senate on the WAYS AND MEANS web site. MAXPAC

Anonymous 09/28/2009 7:57pm

That “trigger” amendment and 95% matters are really just a political excuse more fitting for republican idea of doing nothing. Public option is public option! Why did Sen. Baucus plays around? It is political compromising more important than to passing the proper bill with complete essential elements for health care reform that the American people badly need?? Have the Americans not sick enough already waiting for century for a healthcare reform?? Are the Republicans more interest in short-term political score at the cost of people lives?! As it appears, Republicans have fully and worthy earned this point all right: letting more people die by preventing a proper health care bill to pass!!

Anonymous 09/29/2009 3:03pm
in reply to Anonymous Sep 28, 2009 7:57pm

When is Bill:3548 going to be voted on, signed and pass ??? Many people out here
are just barely holding on. I can honestly say I am looking for work and nothing is coming my way. I am doing just about everything just to make enough to feed my family and scape by. Mortgage payment,water,lights,insurance,car payment,food bills are mounting up daily without any help I may have to sell it all at a loss and move to a shelter just to survive. Come on guys vote and save many people from really losing everything they worked their whole lives for.

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