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OpenCongress Preview: Omnibus, D.C. Voting Rights, Employee Free Choice Act

March 9, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

The Senate resumes work on the stalled 2009 Omnibus bill this week, under a deal that will allow Republicans to offer amendments on the legislation before a possible cloture vote on Tuesday afternoon. That’s cutting it close for the spending bill, since the government is running on a continuing resolution approved last week. That CR expires at midnight on Tuesday, so any changes to the version already approved by the House will need to be considered by that chamber in very short order.

Some of the other big news of the week will be tomorrow’s introduction (in both chambers) of the Employee Free Choice Act. At stake is the practice of card check, one of the ways employees can organize a labor union under existing law. However, the National Labor Relations Board will only certify those unions that are organized by secret ballot.

The Employee Free Choice Act would modify the card check provision, requiring the NLRB to certify unions if a majority of employees sign a card supporting the formation of a union. Pro-union advocates say the existing process of organizing by secret ballot leaves employees open to intimidation by employers, while opponents claim employees’ rights to a secret ballot would be stripped away. Both sides are weighing in heavily with advertising, and there is speculation there are not enough votes in the Senate to approve the bill.

We’ll get the bill online as soon as possible, but you can see last year’s version (which is identical in scope) and read about the efforts surrounding the EFCA in the 110th Congress at the OpenCongress Wiki.

Also this week is a possible vote in the House on the D.C. Voting Rights Act. You can read Donny’s earlier post about that legislation if you need a refresher.

Below is the schedule for the week (from the Office of the House Majority Leader and the Senate Majority Leader, respectively).

House of Representatives

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

Suspensions (3 Bills)

  1. H.Res. 210 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that providing breakfast in schools through the National School Breakfast Program has a positive impact on classroom performance (Rep. Moore (WI) – Education and Labor)

  2. H.Res. __ -Congratulating the National Assessment Governing Board on its 20th Anniversary in measuring student academic achievement (Rep. Castle – Education and Labor)

  3. H.R. 131 – Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act (Rep. Gallegly – Oversight and Government Reform)

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:30 a.m. for Morning Hour 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, no votes are expected in the House.

Suspensions (11 Bills)

  1. H.Con.Res. 64 – Urging the President to designate 2009 as the ‘‘Year of the Military Family’’ (Rep. Skelton – Armed Services)

  2. H.Con.Res. 37 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby (Rep. Hoyer – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  3. H.Con.Res. 38 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service (Rep. Holmes Norton – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  4. H.Con.Res. 39 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (Rep. Holmes Norton – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  5. H.R. 813 – To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 306 East Main Street in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, as the “J. Herbert W. Small Federal Building and United States Courthouse” (Rep. Butterfield – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  6. H.R. 837 – To designate the Federal building located at 799 United Nations Plaza in New York, New York, as the “Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building” (Rep. Rangel – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  7. H.R. 842 – To designate the United States Courthouse to be constructed in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse” (Rep. Thompson (MS) – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  8. H.R. 869 – To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 101 Barr Street in Lexington, Kentucky, as the “Scott Reed Federal Building and United States Courthouse” (Rep. Chandler – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  9. H.R. 887 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 131 East 4th Street in Davenport, Iowa, as the “James A. Leach United States Courthouse” (Rep. Loebsack – Transportation and Infrastructure)

  10. H.Res. 194 – Supporting the goals of International Women’s Day (Rep. Schakowsky – Foreign Affairs)

  11. H.Res. __ – Recognizing the plight of the Tibetan people on the 50th Anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama being forced into exile, and calling for a sustained multilateral effort to bring about a durable and peaceful solution to the Tibet issue (Rep. Holt – Foreign Affairs)

H.R. 1262 – Water Quality Investment Act of 2009 (Rep. Oberstar – Transportation and Infrastructure) (Subject to a Rule)

Possible Consideration of H.R. 157 – District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 (Rep. Holmes Norton – Judiciary) (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.


Monday, March 9
Convenes: 2:00pm

Resume consideration of H.R.1105, Omnibus Appropriations bill.
Roll Call Votes are expected to begin at approximately 5:30pm

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