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The Week Ahead in Congress

January 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The big event this week, of course, will be Obama’s third State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Some senators and representatives are planning to buck the age-old tradition of sitting across the aisle from their counterparts in the other party and will instead disburse throughout House Chamber in an ad hoc, bipartisan buddy system. Ideological opposites Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] and Sen. Tom Coburn [R, OK] will be watching the President side-by-side, as will centrists Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA] and Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME]. Rep. Joe Wilson [R, SC-2], famous for his “You lie!” outburst at last year’s speech, will be sitting with Rep. Madeleine Bordallo [D, Guam]. It’s all very pleasant and nice. Outside of the SOTU speech this week, however, both chambers have some less cute work-type stuff to take care of.

In the House, the Republican leadership is holding a vote on a non-binding resolution “to reduce spending through a transition to non-security spending at fiscal year 2008 levels.” The resolution is essentially pointless because the Republicans have already given Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan [R, WI-1] the power to set 2011 budget caps without any input from his committee or the House. Still, you can expect a lot of lofty rhetoric on this resolution because the whole reason it’s on the schedule is to give Rep. Ryan, who’s giving the post-SOTU GOP response, a talking point about how his party is out ahead when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

The House will also be voting this week on a bill to extend some small business lending programs and a bill that would terminate federal matching funding for presidential elections and party conventions, turning them over even more fully to corporate/special-interest sponsorship via political party fundraising. But, hey, it’s going to save taxpayers $520 million over the next ten years, or a little less than ten cents a year for all federal income tax payers in the U.S. The full House schedule for the week is below:


On Monday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed to 6:30 p.m.

H.Res. 43 – A resolution providing for consideration of a resolution Reducing Non-Security Spending to Fiscal Year 2008 Levels or Less (Special Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. David Dreier / Rules Committee)

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House will recess no later than 5:00 p.m. to allow a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to the President’s State of the Union address. The House will meet again at approximately 8:35 p.m. for the purpose of receiving in a joint session with the Senate the President of the United States.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.Res. __ – Medal of Honor Flag Resolution of 2011 (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham / House Administration Committee)

2) H.R. 366 – To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes (Sponsored Rep. Sam Graves / Small Business Committee)

H.Res. 38 – A resolution Reducing Non-Security Spending to Fiscal Year 2008 Levels or Less (Closed Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. David Dreier / Rules Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business.

H.R. 359 – To reduce Federal spending and the deficit by terminating taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole / Ways and Means Committee / House Administration Committee)

On Thursday, the House is not in session.

On Friday, the House is not in session.

The Senate comes back Tuesday to continue with the 19-calendar-day legislative day they began on January 5th, the last time they were in session. They’re expected to vote on the remnants of “filibuster reform,” which, according to reports, seems to have gone from making it possible for a majority in the Senate to pass legislation, to making it harder for the minority to filibuster to …making it easier to approve non-controversial presidential nominees. But who know, we may also see another tweaking the “secret hold” rules get thrown into the mix thrown into the mix. Don’t expect much more than that, however. FWIW, the full, not helpful at all, Senate schedule for the week is below:

[Tuesday 1/25] Convenes: 10:00am

Following any Leader remarks, there will be a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each. Roll call votes are possible during Tuesday’s session. Senators will be notified when any votes scheduled.

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