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This Week in Congress - The Unveiling

October 26, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Reports are out everywhere today that Democrats in both chambers have just about finished putting together their final health care bills and are planning to make them public this week. These will be the versions that, after more than six months of committee work and negotiating, will come to the floors in the Senate and the House for votes.

The Senate’s bill will, according to the reports, include an “opt-out” public option plan that would set up a national government-run insurance option but allow individual states to restrict their residents from participating in it. The bill will probably call for the public option rates to be negotiated by the HHS Secretary instead of the liberals’ preference of having them be based on Medicare rates. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] has scheduled a press conference for this afternoon to lay out more of the details. UPDATE: Here’s a rundown of Reid’s presser from TPM.

The House bill will include a national public option plan without an “opt-out” provision. But the Democratic leadership there still needs to make some final decisions about how the plan’s rates will be set. There are three versions of the plan currently on the table — set rates at Medicare +5% indefinitely, set rates at Medicare +5% for three years and then have them negotiated by HHS, or have HHS negotiate rates from the outset. Whip counts are still under way and changing from moment to moment, but it’s very likely that the most progressive of the three — rates set at Medicare +5% indefinitely — won’t not make the cut.

We’ll be working to get the two heath care bills online in full for public review and comment as soon as we can. We are hoping to have the full text available on Wednesday, though it all depends on how quickly Congress releases it and in what format. In the meantime, here’s what’s happening on the floor of both chambers this week:

In the House:


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 (9 Bills)

1.       H.R. 2489 – AmericaView Geospatial Imagery Mapping Program Act (Rep. Herseth Sandlin – Natural Resources)

2.       H.R. 1471 – To expand the boundary of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in the State of Georgia, to redesignate the unit as a National Historical Park, and for other purposes. (Rep. Bishop (GA) – Natural Resources)

3.       H.R. 2806 – To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to adjust the boundary of the Stephen Mather Wilderness and the North Cascades National Park in order to allow the rebuilding of a road outside of the floodplain while ensuring that there is no net loss of acreage to the Park or the Wilderness (Rep. Hastings (WA) – Natural Resources)

4.       H.R. 1641 – Cascadia Marine Trail Study Act (Rep. Inslee – Natural Resources)

5.       H.Res. 854 – Recognizing Weber State University for the 120th anniversary of its founding as an institution of higher education (Rep. Bishop (UT) – Education and Labor)

6.       H.Res. 368 – Congratulating the University of Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team on winning the 2009 NCAA Division I National Wrestling Championships (Rep. Loebsack – Education and Labor)

7.       H.Res. 562 – Congratulating Syracuse University for winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament (Rep. Maffei – Education and Labor)

8.       H.Res. 824 – Congratulating the Northwestern University Wildcats on winning the 2009 NCAA women’s lacrosse championship, and to commend Northwestern University for its pursuit of athletic and academic excellence (Rep. Schakowsky – Education and Labor)

9.       H.Res. 817 – Supporting the goals and ideals of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should continue to raise awareness of domestic violence in the United States and its devastating effects on families and communities, and support programs designed to end domestic violence (Rep. Al Green – Education and Labor)



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 (10 Bills)

1.       H.Res. 790 – Supporting the goals and ideals of a national day of remembrance on October 30, 2009, for American nuclear weapons program workers and uranium miners, millers, and haulers (Rep. Berkley – Oversight and Government Reform)

2.       H.Res. 568 – Recognizing the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (Rep. Capito – Oversight and Government Reform)

3.       H.Res. 783 – Recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrating the vast contributions of Hispanic Americans to the strength and culture of the United States (Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart – Oversight and Government Reform)

4.       H.R. 3632 – Federal Judiciary Administrative Improvements Act of 2009 (Rep. Johnson (GA) – Judiciary)

5.       H.Con.Res. 177 – Raising the awareness of the need for crime prevention in communities across the country and expressing support for designation of October 1, 2009, through October 3, 2009, as “Celebrate Safe Communities” Week, and October as “Crime Prevention Month” (Rep. Reichert – Judiciary)

6.       H.Res. 838 – Welcoming to the United States and to Washington, DC, His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch on his upcoming trip on October 20, 2009, through November 6, 2009 (Rep. Bilirakis – Foreign Affairs)

7.       H.Res. 784 – Honoring the 2560th anniversary of the birth of Confucius and recognizing his invaluable contributions to philosophy and social and political thought (Rep. Al Green – Foreign Affairs)

8.       S.Con.Res. 45 – A concurrent resolution encouraging the Government of Iran to allow Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd to reunite with their families in the United States as soon as possible (Sen. Specter – Foreign Affairs)

9.       H.Res. 787 – Expressing support for designation of October 13, 2009, as National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day (Rep. DeLauro – Energy and Commerce)

10.    H.Res. 831 – Supporting the goals and ideals of National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month by promoting national awareness of adoption and the children in foster care awaiting families, celebrating children and families involved in adoption, recognizing current programs and efforts designed to promote adoption, and encouraging people in the United States to seek improved safety, permanency, and well-being for all children (Rep. Brown-Waite – Ways and Means)


H.R. 3854 – Small Business Financing and Investment Act of 2009 (Rep. Schrader – Small Business) (Subject to a Rule)


Conference Report on H.R. 2996 – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (Rep. Dicks – Appropriations) (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)


* Conference Reports may be brought up at any time.

* Motions to go to Conference should they become available.      

* Possible Motions to Instruct Conferees.

In the Senate:

Monday 10/26 — Convenes: 2:00pm

Morning Business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.

As previously announced, there will be no roll call votes during Monday’s session of the Senate.
Next week the Majority Leader hopes to complete action on the Unemployment Insurance Extension Act, Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations, and Military Construction appropriations. The Senate also needs to act on a Continuing Resolution before the end of the week.
Tuesday 10/27 — 2:30pm Cloture vote on the motion to proceed to H.R. 3548 Unemployment Insurance
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