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This Week in Congress: Crunch Time

July 27, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Today begins the House of Representatives’ final week in session before they are scheduled to leave for a five-week recess. They have a full legislative floor schedule set out in front of them, but this week in the House is really going to be about just one thing: health care reform.

For months, in order to comply with President Obama’s health care reform timetable, Democratic leaders in Congress have been planning to bring their health care bill (H.R.3200) to the floor for a vote this week before leaving for recess. But for the past two weeks, the bill has been stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where a group of 7 conservative Blue Dog Democrats are blocking its mark-up over several areas of it they object to. On Friday, negotiations in the Committee broke down, emotions boiled over, and for awhile it seemed like the whole thing was about to be called off. But things have since been smoothed over and the Committee’s chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman [D, CA-30], plans to resume the mark-up today with hopes of completing it early this week, allowing for a vote on the floor by the full House on Thursday or Friday.

On Saturday, one potential area of compromise with the Blue Dogs to set up an Independent Medicare Advisory Council set Medicare payment rates in order to control health care costs was undercut by a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report. The report found that the council proposal would save only $2 billion over 10 years, an insignificant amount given the bill’s $1 trillion overall price tag. Still, the CBO report offered ideas for improving the effectiveness of the council that could be included in the legislation to revive the compromise.

But the House leadership is still trying their hardest to inject some optimism into the health care negotiations. “When I take this bill to the floor, it will win,” Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” on Sunday. “This will happen.”

Last week, Pelosi said she is considering keeping the House in session beyond Friday- cutting into their August recess – if they don’t manage to pass the health care bill this week. “I think 70 percent of the American people would want that,” Pelosi said. “I want a bill.”

In the Senate, the Finance Committee, headed up by Chairmen Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT], is also working on completing the mark-up of their own health care bill. Unlike the House bill and the version of the bill approved already by the Senate HELP Committee, the Finance Committee’s bill is expected to not include a public health insurance option. Instead, the Committee is leaning towards including plans for a federally-chartered not-for-profit health care co-op. Most Democrats do not accept the idea as an alternative to their preferred public option plan, but as far as proposals for a national non-profit health insurance competitor go, the co-op plan stand the best chance of winning support from crucial moderates in the Senate.

The Senate is scheduled to stay in session a week longer than the House, but, even with the extra time, they are not expected to pass a health care bill before they leave. Their goal at this point is to get a bill out of the Finance Committee by August 7th, when they are scheduled to leave, so that it can be reconciled with the HELP Committee bill over the recess. The crucial question in that reconciliation process will be what form of a a national non-profit health insurance competitor is included, a public option, a co-op, or some other hybrid that hasn’t yet been imagined?

Below is the House’s complete floor schedule for the week, via the Office of the House Democratic Majority Leader:

MONDAY, JULY 27, 2009

On Monday, 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 (22 Bills)

  1. H.R. 3219 - Veterans’ Insurance and Health Care Improvements Act of 2009 (Rep. Filner – Veterans’ Affairs)
  2. H.R. 1293 – Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009 (Rep. Buyer – Veterans’ Affairs)
  3. H.R. 2770 – Veterans Nonprofit Research and Education Corporations Enhancement Act of 2009 (Rep. Filner – Veterans’ Affairs)
  4. H.R. 3155 – Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act (Rep. Michaud – Veterans’ Affairs)
  5. H.R. 509 – Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2009 (Rep. Brown (SC) – Natural Resources)
  6. H.Res. 288 – Recognizing the importance of park and recreation facilities and expressing support for the designation of the month of July as “National Park and Recreation Month” (Rep. Barrow – Natural Resources)
  7. H.R. 1376 – Waco Mammoth National Monument Establishment Act of 2009 (Rep. Edwards (TX) – Natural Resources)
  8. H.R. 556 – Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act (Rep. Farr – Natural Resources)
  9. H.R. 1121 – Blue Ridge Parkway and Town of Blowing Rock Land Exchange Act of 2009 (Rep. Foxx – Natural Resources)
  10. H.Res. 616 – Congratulating the Louisiana State University baseball team for winning the 2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I College World Series (Rep. Cassidy – Education and Labor)
  11. H.R. 1035 – Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009 (Rep. Grijalva – Education and Labor)
  12. H.J.Res. 44 – Recognizing the service, sacrifice, honor, and professionalism of the Noncommissioned Officers of the United States Army (Rep. Skelton – Armed Services)
  13. H.R. 2034 – Rural Homeowners Protection Act of 2009 (Rep. Clay – Financial Services)
  14. H.R. 3300 - To amend the Federal Deposit Insurance Act and the Federal Credit Union Act to provide more effective reviews of losses in the Deposit Insurance Fund and the Share Insurance Fund by the Inspectors General of the several Federal banking agencies and the National Credit Union Administration Board (Rep. Driehaus – Financial Services)
  15. H.R. __Extending the Federal Flood Insurance Program (Rep. Frank – Financial Services)
  16. H.R. __ - To amend the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to require the Federal Emergency Management Agency to consider reconstruction and improvement of flood protection systems when establishing flood insurance rates (Rep. Matsui – Financial Services)
  17. H.R. 2623 – To amend the Federal securities laws to clarify and expand the definition of certain persons under those laws (Rep. McCarthy (CA) – Financial Services)
  18. H.R. 2529 – Neighborhood Preservation Act (Rep. Gary Miller – Financial Services)
  19. H.Res. 593 – Recognizing and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the entry of Hawaii into the Union as the 50th State (Rep. Abercrombie – Oversight and Government Reform)
  20. H.Res. 373 – Expressing support for designation of the month of September as “National Hydrocephalus Awareness Month” (Rep. Bachmann – Oversight and Government Reform)
  21. H.R. 3072 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 9810 Halls Ferry Road in St. Louis, Missouri, as the “Coach Jodie Bailey Post Office Building” (Rep. Clay – Oversight and Government Reform)
  22. H.Res. 483 – Supporting the goals and ideals of Veterans of Foreign Wars Day (Rep. Kline – Oversight and Government Reform)

 

TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2009 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:30 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. 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 (11 Bills)

  1. H.R. 3325To amend title XI of the Social Security Act to reauthorize for 1 year the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance program and the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security program (Rep. Tanner – Ways and Means)
  2. H.R. 1803 – Veterans Business Center Act of 2009 (Rep. Nye – Small Business)
  3. H.R. 1807 – Educating Entrepreneurs through Today’s Technology Act (Rep. Thompson (PA) – Small Business)
  4. - Extending the SBIR Act of 2009 (Sen. Landrieu – Small Business)
  5. H.R. 1665 – Coast Guard Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 (Rep. Cummings – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  6. H.Res. 508 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the general aviation industry should be recognized for its contributions to the United States (Rep. Fortenberry – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  7. H.R. 2093 – Clean Coastal Environment and Public Health Act of 2009 (Rep. Pallone – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  8. H.R. 1752 – To provide that the usual day for paying salaries in or under the House of Representatives may be established by regulations of the Committee on House Administration (Rep. Brady (PA) – House Administration)
  9. H.R. 2510 – Absentee Ballot Track, Receive, and Confirm Act (Rep. Davis (CA) – House Administration)
  10. H.R. 2728 – William Orton Law Library Improvement and Modernization Act (Rep. Lofgren – House Administration)
  11. H.R. 2749 - Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (Rep. Dingell – Energy and Commerce)


H.R. 3326 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 (Rep. Murtha – Appropriations) (Subject to a Rule)

H.R. 3269 – Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009 (Rep. Frank – Financial Services) (Subject to a Rule)

  • Conference Reports may be brought up at any time.
  • Motions to go to Conference should they become available.
  • Possible Motions to Instruct Conferees.

For a complete list of committee hearings taking place this week, see Congress Matters.

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