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Coming this week in Congress: Housing, Medicare cuts and FISA (July 6-12, 2008)
Coming up this week in the Senate are Harry Reid's latest attempts to pass the main bill containing Congress' response to the housing and mortgage crisis and a rollback of a cut in doctors' payments for Medicare services. A vote on the FISA (warrantless wiretapping) bill is also possible. The House won't be doing much.
Details and this week's committee schedules after the jump.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will take up the main bill containing Congress' response to the housing and mortgage crisis. The central provision of the package is a massive program to offer a federal guarantee to banks on mortgages if the lender agrees to reduce the outstanding principal on the mortgage to 85% of the current value of the house and reduce high, variable interest rates to a lower fixed rate. A version of the bill has passed the House but just before Congress adjourned for the 4th of July recess, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) derailed a final vote by demanding a vote on an amendment of his containing renewable energy tax changes. Once the bill passes the Senate, however, it still faces a veto threat for President Bush, who has objected to the price of a $4 billion grant program contained in the bill for local governments to buy, fix up and sell abandoned homes.
Reid is also likely to bring up for a second vote the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which reverses a 10.6% cut in payments to doctors for Medicare services that went into effect on July 1. Supporters of the bill say the cuts will cause more doctors to stop participating in Medicare while detractors cite the cost of the bill or say more comprehensive changes to Medicare need to be made. The bill has passed the House with a veto-proof margin and was only stopped in the Senate by a single vote vote before Congress broke for recess. (See how your senators and representative voted here.)
Finally, the controversial bill to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act may also be brought up for a vote. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has caused a ruckus among many of his supporters by indicating that he will vote for a final bill even if it contains a provision to give retroactive immunity from lawsuits (and possibly criminal prosecutions) to the major telecom companies that broke federal privacy laws by turning over phone records without court authorization when cooperating with President Bush's warrantless surveillance program. He had previously stated that if the bill contained the provision he would support a filibuster, which is exactly what Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) have announced they will do.
While the Senate plays catch-up on bills passed by the House, the lower chamber is largely concerned with more mudane business this week; the one exception being a bill to require the White House to preserve emails.
This week's committee hearings:
(The House is not in session on Monday and hasn't posted their schedules yet - I'll try to update the post when they do.)
July 8, 2008
- Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Water and Power Hearings to examine S.2842, S.2974, H.R.3323, and S.3189. SD-366 2:30 pm
- Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearings to examine the challenges from Iran. SD-419 2:30 pm
- Senate Committee on the Judiciary Oversight hearings to examine the Department of Justice. SD-106 9:30 am
- Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Hearings to examine privacy implications of online advertising. SR-253 10:00 am
- Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Hearings to examine administrative and management operations of the United States Capitol Police. SR-301 10:00am
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Subcommittee on Investigations Hearings to examine Medicare vulnerabilities, focusing on payments for claims tied to deceased doctors SD-342 10:00 am
- Senate Committee on Appropriations: Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Hearings to examine proposed budget estimates for fiscal year 2009 for the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies. SD-116 2:00 pm
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Hearings to examine reducing risks and improving oversight in the OTC credit derivatives market. SD-538 2:00 pm
- Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Hearings to examine fishing safety, focusing on policy implications of cooperatives and vessel improvements. SR-253 2:30 pm.
- Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests Hearings to examine S.2443 and H.R.2246, S.2779, S.2875, S.2898 H.R. 816, S.3088, S.3157, and S.317. SD-366 2:30 pm
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Hearings to examine the roots of violent Islamist extremism and efforts to counter it. SD-342 9:30 am
- Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works: Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Oversight hearings to examine the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), focusing on implementing the renewable fuel standard. SD-406 10:00 am
- Senate Committee on Finance Hearings to examine issues and options for the transportation infrastructure. SD-215 10:00 am
- Joint Economic Committee Hearings to examine public pension plans, focusing on the need to strengthen retirement security and economic growth. SD-106 10:00 am
- Senate Committee on Appropriations Business meeting to markup proposed legislation making appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies, Energy and Water Development, and Financial Services and General Government. SD-106 2:00 pm
- Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearings to examine protocol Amending the Convention Between the United States of America and Canada with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital done at Washington on September 26, 1980, as Amended by the Protocols done on June 14, 1983, March 28, 1984, March 17, 1995, and July 29, 1997, signed on September 21, 2007, at Chelsea (the "proposed Protocol") (Treaty Doc.110-15), Convention Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Iceland for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, and accompanying Protocol, signed on October 23, 2007, at Washington, D.C (Treaty Doc.110-17), Convention Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion With Respect to Taxes on Income, with accompanying Protocol, signed at Washington on February 23, 2007 (the "Proposed Treaty"), as well as the Protocol Amending the Convention Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion With Respect to Taxes on Income, signed at Sofia on February 26, 2008 (Treaty Doc.110-18), and certain other pending treaties. SD-419 2:30 pm
- Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Closed hearings to examine certain intelligence matters. 2:30 pm SH-219
July 9, 2008
July 10, 2008