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The Week Ahead in Congress

November 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House of Representatives returns to the Capitol today from their week long break after passing a historic health care reform bill. They’ll be taking up another significant, though less controversial health care bill later in the week to fix Medicare’s formula for reimbursing doctors.

The bill — known as the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009 — would undo the physician payment formula for Medicare that was created by Congress in 1997 and has recommended pay cuts seven years in a row. In the past six years, Congress has overridden the formula and blocked the cuts from taking effect. Since they haven’t been letting the cuts go through, the amount recommended to be cut by the formula grows each year. This year, for example, doctors that accept Medicare patients are slated to face a 21.5 percent cut. The bill is estimated to cost $210 billion over the next 10 years and is not offset.

The Senate tried to pass a version of the bill a couple weeks ago, but they were blocked from doing so by a Republican-led filibuster.

This week, the Senate will begin by finishing up work on a veteran’s health benefits bill that has been stalled over concerns from Sen. Thomas Coburn [R, OK]. Later in the week, they could possibly take their first procedural vote on health care reform.

Senate Democrats had been hoping to have their health care bill on the floor today or tomorrow, but an inadequate budget score form the Congressional Budget Office last week has delayed things. Democrats wanted their bill to come in at or below $900 billion over ten years. The CBO scored it somewhere above that level, so they tweaked it and sent it back to CBO for a revised score. Once the CBO submits a score that the Democrats like, they’ll release the details of their bill and the debate schedule will become a little clearer. The Democrats have said they want their final bill to be posted online for at least 72 hours before the first vote, so if the CBO score comes out today, the first possible day for a vote to overcome an initial Republican filibuster — on the cloture motion on the motion to proceed to debate — would be Thursday.

Here’s the full legislative schedule for this week in the House:


On Monday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.


Suspensions (6 Bills)

1.       H.R. 3767 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 170 North Main Street in Smithfield, Utah, as the “W. Hazen Hillyard Post Office Building” (Rep. Bishop (UT) – Oversight and Government Reform)

2.       S. 1825 – A bill to extend the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees (Sen. Lieberman – Oversight and Government Reform)

3.       H.R. 3539 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 427 Harrison Avenue in Harrison, New Jersey, as the “Patricia D. McGinty-Juhl Post Office Building” (Rep. Sires – Oversight and Government Reform)

4.       H.R. 1506 – To provide that claims of the United States to certain documents relating to Franklin Delano Roosevelt shall be treated as waived and relinquished in certain circumstances (Rep. Slaughter – Oversight and Government Reform)

5.       S. 1314 – A bill 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” (Sen. Wyden – Oversight and Government Reform)

6.       H.R. 1242 – To amend the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to provide for additional monitoring and accountability of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (Rep. Maloney – Financial Services)



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 (12 Bills)

1.       H.R. 3618 – Clean Hull Act of 2009 (Rep. Oberstar – Transportation and Infrastructure)

2.       H.Res. 841 – Expressing support for designation of November 29, 2009, as “Drive Safer Sunday” (Rep. Gerlach – Transportation and Infrastructure)

3.       H.R. 3360 – Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 (Rep. Matsui – Transportation and Infrastructure)

4.       H.Res. 891 – Expressing the gratitude of the House of Representatives for the service to our Nation of the Coast Guard and Marine Corps aircraft pilots and crewmembers lost off the coast of California on October 29, 2009 (Rep. Loretta Sanchez – Transportation and Infrastructure)

5.       H.R. 3305 – To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 224 South Boulder Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the “H. Dale Cook Federal Building and United States Courthouse” (Rep. Sullivan – Transportation and Infrastructure)

6.       S. 1599 – A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to include in the Federal charter of the Reserve Officers Association leadership positions newly added in its constitution and bylaws (Sen. Leahy – Judiciary)

7.       H.Res. 851 – Recognizing and honoring the 40th anniversary of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, headquartered in Sacramento, California (Rep. Matsui – Judiciary)

8.       H.R. 1839 – To amend the Small Business Act to improve SCORE (Rep. Buchanan – Small Business)

9.       H.R. 3014 – Small Business Health Information Technology Financing Act (Rep. Dahlkemper – Small Business)

10.    H.R. 1834 – Native American Business Development Enhancement Act of 2009 (Rep. Kirkpatrick – Small Business)

11.    H.R. 1842 – Expanding Entrepreneurship Act of 2009 (Rep. Luetkemeyer – Small Business)

12.    H.R. 3738 – Small Business Early-Stage Investment Act of 2009 (Rep. Nye – Small Business)


H.R. 2781 – To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the Molalla River in Oregon, as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (Rep. Schrader – Natural Resources) (Subject to a Rule)


H.R. 3791 – Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009 (Rep. Mitchell – Science and Technology) (Subject to a Rule)


H.R. 3961 – Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009 (Rep. Dingell – Energy and Commerce/Ways and Means) (Subject to a Rule)


Possible Consideration of the Conference Report on H.R. 2847 – Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (Rep. Mollohan – Appropriations)

And here’s what’s on the Senate’s calendar:

Monday Nov 16:

Morning business until 3pm with Senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each.

Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R.3082, MilCon VA Appropriations until 5:30pm.

5:30pm 2 roll call votes in relation to the following:

Coburn amendment #2757: (public disclosure of reports)

Coburn motion to commit
Tuesday Nov 17:

Upon disposition of H.R.3082, there will be 60 minutes of debate equally divided and controlled between the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary committee on Executive Calendar #184, David Hamilton to be US Circuit Judge for the 7th Circuit.

Upon the use or yielding back of time, but not before 2:15pm, the Senate will conduct a roll call vote on the confirmation of the nomination.

Congress Matters has the full committee schedule for the week.

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