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The Week Ahead in Congress

September 6, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Can Washington do anything to help create jobs? The August recess is finally over and it’s time for Congress to take up their promised “pivot to jobs.” If there is a will in Washington to put aside the partisanship and pass legislation to get the hiring cycle churning again, they’ll make some progress this work period. But don’t hold your breath — despite the terrible August jobs numbers, all signs still point to gridlock.

On Thursday, Obama will lay out his ideas for fiscal stimulus and jobs bills before a joint session of Congress. Ahead of that, the Senate is going to debate the House’s patent reform bill, which is one of those bills Obama has been saying Congress could send him “right now” that would help create jobs. Getting it through the Senate will be a feather in Obama’s cap for the big speech, but the jury’s still out on how good of a jobs measure it actually is. Switching to a “first to file” patent system will help speed up the approval process, but it could also favor large corporations with entire patent departments over the small businesses that create the most jobs.

The House is starting off extra slow. They’re taking another day off, and when they come back tomorrow all they have on the schedule are few suspension bills. Here’s a look at their full schedule for the week:

On Wednesday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.Con.Res. 67 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (Sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

2) H.R. 206
1 – Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011 (Sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

3) H.R. 2832
- To extend the Generalized System of Preferences, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. David Camp / Ways and Means Committee)

On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House will recess by approximately 4:00 p.m. to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to the President’s address. The House will meet again at approximately 7:00 p.m. in a joint session with the Senate for the purpose of receiving an address from the President of the United States.

H.R. 2218 – Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter / Education and the Workforce Committee)

On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes for the week are expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

H.R. 1892 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year, 2012 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (MI) / Permanent Select Intelligence Committee)

H.Res. __ - A resolution relating to the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001 (Subject to a Unanimous Consent Agreement) (Sponsored by Rep. Eric Cantor / Foreign Affairs Committee)

And here’s what we know about the Senate schedule so far:

  • Convenes 2:00pm
  • Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business until 5:00pm with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.
  • Following morning business, the Senate will be in Executive Session to consider Calendar #109, Bernice Bouie Donald, of Tennessee, to be United States Circuit Judge for the 6th Circuit with 30 minutes of debate equally divided and controlled between Senators Leahy and Grassley or their designees.
  • At approximately 5:30pm, the Senate will conduct 2 roll call votes on the following:

    • Confirmation of Bernice Bouie Donald to be US Circuit Judge for the 6th Circuit
    • Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R.1249, the Patent Reform bill
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