Some big items on the agenda this week, including the first and only vote Obama's jobs bill, the American Jobs Act of 2011, is likely to get. The bill was tweaked last week to get more Democrats on board by switching the revenue section from a collection of tax-loophole closers to a 5.6% tax increase on income earned above $1 million. The change is expected to bring the Democrats in favor to about 47, short of both the 60 that would be needed to break a Republican filibuster and the 51 that would be needed to actually pass it.Read Full Article
All week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY] have been in a procedural battle over the American Jobs Act. McConnell has been trying to force a vote on the bill in the form of an amendment to the China currency bill that is currently before the Senate in order to show that the Democrats don't even have their own caucus in order on it. Reid says he's willing to vote on the jobs bill, but not in the form of an amendment. He offered to move from the China currency bill to the jobs bill so the Senate can have a full debate and he can offer amendments to help shore up the Democrats. McConnell rejected the offer.
On Thursday afternoon it appeared that McConnell was going to win, sort of. He was planning to force a vote on a motion to suspend the Senate rules that require amendments to be germane and move to his amendment (i.e. the jobs bill). It wouldn't be a vote on the jobs bill, but it would be a vote on voting on the jobs bill, and in his mind that would be enough for justify good talking points.The Senate Parliamentarian determined that McConnell's move was legit and ruled it in order. That's when Reid pulled out the "nuclear option":Read Full Article
As big, taxpayer-supported banks jack up fees on their customers, Rep. Brad Miller [D, NC-13] has introduced legislation to ensure that customers can easily close their accounts and mover their money elsewhere. The bill, titled the Freedom and Mobility in Mobile Banking Act, would require banks to allow customers to close their accounts at any time and help them transfer their direct deposits and automatic bill-pay settings to a new bank.Read Full Article
At this point there are basically two conceivable ways for Obama and the congressional Democrats to get their jobs bill, the American Jobs Act, through Congress this year. They could cut it down dramatically to things that could potentially get bipartisan support, like the payroll tax holiday and the unpaid job training program for the unemployed, or they could go hardball and threaten to withhold appropriations and shut down the government. This morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] (pictured) announced what he intends to do. He's going with none of the above, choosing the purely political option instead.Read Full Article
The Senate is currently making progress on bipartisan legislation designed to shrink the U.S. trade deficit with China and restore up to 2.8 million domestic manufacturing positions. Yesterday, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the China trade bill, a.k.a. the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, and they're expected to pass it by the end of the week. But that will be the end of the line for the bill.Read Full Article
Last week I wrote about how the deficit supercommittee has so far held the majority of its meetings in complete secrecy. Well, as it turns out, that's not exactly true. According to Politico, the committee members have choosen a select group of citizens to give special access to their private meetings to. You and I just happen to not be on the list.Read Full Article
Congress comes back today, and they're actually going to be working on a bill that could create jobs and is bipartisan, so stands a chance of becoming law this session. The bill is the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011. It would put new saction on China for manipulating their currency and making their exports cheaper and their imports more expensive. The U.S. trade deficit with China that has been caused at least in part by artificially manipulated Chinese currency has cost us as many as 2.8 million manufacturing jobs over the past decade. This bill could help restore those positions. The bill is being taken up in the Senate starting today and is expected to pass by a wide margin later in the week.Read Full Article