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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:

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2009

On Monday, the House will not be in session.

 

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2009

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)

 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK

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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