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The Week Ahead in Congress

January 31, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

You may remember President Obama’s remarks from the State of the Union that his spending freeze wouldn’t “take effect until next year — when the economy is stronger.” Republicans laughed and jeered, presumably wanting the freeze to take effect right away, and Obama, ad-libbing, responded flatly, “that’s how budgeting works.” It was one of the more memorable moments of the speech.

Well, he was right. That is how budgeting works. It takes Congress almost a full year to complete the federal budget. On the 15th day of each session of Congress, the President submits his budget proposal, congressional committees then start tweaking the details, the Congressional Budget Office draws up official estimates, appropriations committees propose exact spending authority, Congress approves the authority and eventually — ideally by October 1, when the fiscal year begins — Congress implements its budget and the government is funded.
That process will get kicked off today for fiscal year 2011; all the media outlets are reporting that later today Obama will officially submit his 2011 budget proposal to Congress.

The New York Times is reporting the total cost of the budget Obama will propose today to be $3.8 trillion, which is $250 billion more than last year’s budget, but also represents an almost 50% decrease in last year’s level of spending growth. According to the Times, there will be some funding increases escaping the freeze, like a 6% increase in funding for education and for civilian research programs, $25 billion in relief for states, and funding increases at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Energy Department and the Census Bureau. Most other domestic spending would be frozen at 2010 levels, with a few targeted cuts. Joel Achenbach reports that one of those targeted cuts will be for a Bush-designed NASA program to put a man on the moon again.

We’ll have more on Obama’s budget later today when the details are released. For now, here’s a look at Congress’s legislative schedule for the week. First, the House of Representatives:


On Monday, the House will not be in session.


On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:30 p.m. for Morning Hour debate and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Suspensions (8 Bills)

  1. H.R. 4495 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 100 North Taylor Lane in Patagonia, Arizona, as the “Jim Kolbe Post Office” (Rep. Giffords – Oversight and Government Reform)
  2. H.Res. 957 – Honoring Jimmie Johnson, 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion (Rep. McHenry – Oversight and Government Reform)
  3. H.Res. 1014 – Recognizing and supporting the goals and ideals of North American Inclusion Month (Rep. Towns – Oversight and Government Reform)
  4. H.Res. 1043 – Recognizing Brescia University for 60 years of leadership in higher education. (Rep. Guthrie – Education and Labor)
  5. H.Res. 901 – Recognizing the 49th anniversary of the first day of integrated schools in New Orleans, Louisiana (Rep. Moore (WI) – Education and Labor)
  6. H.Res. 1022 – Honoring the life and sacrifice of Medgar Evers and congratulating the United States Navy for naming a supply ship after Medgar Evers (Rep. Johnson (GA) – Judiciary)
  7. H.Res. 960 – Expressing support for designation of January 2010 as “National Stalking Awareness Month” to raise awareness and encourage prevention of stalking (Rep. Poe – Judiciary)
  8. S. 2950 – To extend the pilot program for volunteer groups to obtain criminal history background checks (Sen. Schumer – Judiciary)


On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. On Friday, the House will be in Pro Forma session at 9:00 a.m. No votes are expected in the House on Friday.

Suspensions (2 Bills)

  1. H.R. 2843 - Architect of the Capitol Appointment Act of 2009 (Rep. Wasserman Schultz – House Administration)
  2. H.R. 4532 – Social Security Disability Applicants’ Access to Professional Representation Act of 2010 (Rep. Tanner – Ways and Means)

H.R. 4061 - Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2009 (Rep. Lipinski – Science and Technology) (Subject to a Rule)

Senate Amendments to H.J.Res. 45 – To Establish Statutory PAYGO Requirements and Permit Continued Financing of Government Operations (Rep. Rangel – Ways and Means) (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.

…We’ll have more information on that cybersecurity bill on this blog this week. Here’s what we know so far about the Senate’s schedule:

Monday, Feb.1: Convenes: 2:00pm
Morning Business until 3:00pm with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.
At 3:00pm, the Senate will turn to Executive Session to debate the nomination of Patricia Smith to be Solicitor for the department of Labor.


5:30pm vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Patricia Smith to be Solicitor for the Department of Labor.

See Congress Matters for this week’s committee schedule.

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