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September 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

It’s hard not to focus on the gigantic bailout plan being worked out, but there are some other important things also happening in Congress these days:

Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights Passes House

>By a vote of 312 to 112, the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to pass HR 5244, the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights. The bill would curb a number of predatory credit card lending practices that can unfairly trap consumers in debt. In light of the overwhelming vote in the House, Consumers Union called on the Senate to include the reforms as part of any Wall Street bailout package. Market Watch

A Plan to Fund the Government

>According to a draft version of the CR, House Democrats would fund most federal government programs at FY08 levels until March 6 unless Congress acts before that. The draft also includes $5.1 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. House Democratic leaders had previously discussed including the funding in an economic stimulus package valued at about $50 billion. The package also includes $25 billion in loan guarantees for the U.S. auto industry that was authorized in legislation enacted last year. OMB Watch

Great Lakes Compact

>The House ratified a compact Tuesday to prevent the diversion of water from the Great Lakes, one of the world’s largest sources of fresh water. Eight Great Lakes states negotiated the compact after more than four years of talks involving business, scientific and environmental interests. Supporters said the protections against diverting water were needed to guard the lakes from future depletion. AP

Senate Passes ALS Registry

>After a long and hard-fought battle between Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), agreement was reached today to pass the ALS Registry Act (S 1382) by unanimous consent. This bill was a part of the so-called “Coburn Omnibus” package. It would establish a registry to collect data on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other motor neuron disorders, among other things. Senatus

Possible Bush-Senate Tax Agreement

>The fate of a bill to extend expiring tax breaks remains in doubt, even as the Senate and the White House headed toward an agreement Tuesday. The Senate is expected to take several votes leading to passage of a bill that would extend expiring provisions, provide a one-year “patch” to the alternative minimum tax and provide new incentives for renewable energy and conservation. The package also includes tax relief for victims of this year’s natural disasters. CQ

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