Posted by Conor Kenny on September 22, 2008

New details have emerged about the Bush Administration’s plan to inject an estimated $700 billion into the country’s financial sector, which would be used to buy risky and possibly bad debt. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has released a counter-proposal, which includes a number of restrictions not included in the original plan. Lawmakers from both parties have pledged to take action by the end of the week while also tackling a continuing resolution to keep the government operating past the end of the fiscal year next week.

Over the weekend, a draft of the Administration’s plan was leaked and members of the public (and some lawmakers) had their first opportunity to review the proposal. The legislation would give Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson broad authority to use federal funds to purchase assets that have no defined value, including loans that are unlikely to be repaid and securities backed by those loans. The government would purchase these assets from banks and other institutions through an auction or some other mechanism.

The plan precludes the courts, Congress or other federal agencies from reviewing the program and, while Paulson hopes to recover most of the funds by selling off the assets once the markets stabilize, there is no guarantee that the taxpayer money will be recovered.

Sen. Dodd’s proposal (leaked to the press Sunday night) introduces several measures that would substantially change the recovery program. Dodd’s bill creates an oversight board that would include congressionally-appointed officials. It also authorizes bankruptcy judges to modify existing mortgage loan terms for Americans facing foreclosure, and limit executive compensation for firms that take taxpayer cash.

There appeared to be some movement toward Dodd’s provisions late Monday afternoon, but among the more contentious items are whether profits from the investment of taxpayer dollars will go into an affordable-housing trust fund and the provision empowering bankruptcy judges.

There are also some sticking points in the continuing resolution needed to keep the government operating in the 2009 fiscal year, which begins on October 1st. Anti-tax, anti-spending members of Congress will try to limit programs that increase spending without revenue offsets elsewhere in the budget. Many Democrats have expressed desire to add some economic stimulus items to the bill, including extended unemployment benefits and low-income heating assistance. House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has also said that his negotiations with the White House over the financial crisis bill will be linked to the continuing resolution.

On the energy front, proponents of a bi-partisan bill, the New Energy Reform Act, to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil through boosts in domestic fossil fuel and renewable energy production, have said they will wait until after the November election.

Hearings Schedules:
September 23, 2008

Senate

  • Select Committee on Intelligence hearings to examine the new Attorney General guidelines for domestic intelligence collection. 2:30 pm.
  • Committee on Homeland Security, Oversight Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia Hearings to examine the elements of the federal government responsible for coordinating our public diplomacy, including their respective missions, organizational structures, workforce, and management. 2:30 pm.
  • Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Oversight hearings to examine the transition to digital television, focusing on the February 2009 deadline. 2:30 pm.
  • Committee on Foreign Relations, business meeting to consider Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the Accession of the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Croatia adopted at Brussels on July 9, 2008, and signed that day on behalf of the United States and the other Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty (Treaty Doc.110-20), Amendments to the Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (Geneva 1992), as amended by the Plenipotentiary Conference (Kyoto 1994), together with declarations and reservations by the United States as contained in the Final Acts of the Plenipotentiary Conference (Minneapolis 1998) (Treaty Doc.108-05), Amendments to the Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union (Geneva, 1992), as amended by the Plenipotentiary Conference (Kyoto, 1994) and the Plenipotentiary Conference (Minneapolis, 1998), together with the declarations and reservations by the United States, all as contained in the Final Acts of the Plenipotentiary Conference (Marrakesh, 2002) (Treaty Doc.109-11), Amendments to the Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union (Geneva, 1992), as Amended by the Plenipotentiary Conference (Kyoto, 1994) and the Plenipotentiary Conference (Marrakesh, 2002), Together with the Declarations and Reservations by the United States, all as Contained in the Final Acts of the Plenipotentiary Conference (Antalya, 2006) (Treaty Doc.110-16), S.2609, to establish a Global Service Fellowship Program, S.3103, to amend the Iran, North Korea, and Syria nonproliferation Act to allow certain extraordinary payments in connection with the International Space Station, S.1007, to direct the Secretary of State to work with the Government of Brazil and other foreign governments to develop partnerships that will strengthen diplomatic relations and energy security by accelerating the development of biofuels production, research, and infrastructure to alleviate poverty, create jobs, and increase income, while improving energy security and protecting the environment, S.3426, to amend the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to extend comparability pay adjustments to members of the Foreign Service assigned to posts abroad, and to amend the provision relating to the death gratuity payable to surviving dependents on Foreign Service employees who die as a result of injuries sustained in the performance of duty abroad, S.Res.598, expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the need for the United States to lead renewed international efforts to assist developing nations in conserving natural resources and preventing the impending extinction of a large portion of the world's plant and animal species, an original bill entitled, "Security Assistance Act", and the nominations of Brian H. Hook, of Iowa, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Organization Affairs), Sung Y. Kim, of California, a Foreign Service Officer of Class One, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks, Gregori Lebedev, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform, with the rank of Ambassador and to be Alternate Representative of the United States to the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform, Clifford D. May, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, C. Steven McGann, of New York, to be Ambassador to the Republic of the Fiji Islands, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador to the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, and the Republic of Kiribati, and other pending nominations. -- Sep 23, 2008 at 02:15 pm
  • Committee on Armed Services Hearings to examine the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan; with the possibility of a closed session in SVC-217 following the open session. 9:30 am.
  • Committee on Health, Education, and Labor Hearings to examine investing in a skilled workforce, focusing on making the best use of tax-payer dollars to maximize results. 9:30 am.
  • Committee on the Judiciary Hearings to examine equal pay for equal work. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Hearings to examine turmoil in United States credit markets, focusing on recent actions regarding investment banks and other financial institutions. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearings to examine reasons that diesel fuel prices have been so high and what can be done to address this situation. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Environment and Public Works Hearings to examine regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (Public Law 101-549). 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security Hearings to examine reducing the undercount in the 2010 census. 10:30 am.
  • Committee on Veteran’s Affairs Business meeting to consider the nomination of Patrick W. Dunne, of New York, to be Under Secretary for Benefits of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Appropriations Joint hearings to examine food marketing to children. 10:30 am
  • Committee on Finance hearings to examine covering the uninsured, focusing on making health insurance markets work. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery hearings to examine after action reviews of federal, state, and local activities to respond and recover from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Business meeting to consider S.3474, to amend title 44, United States Code, to enhance information security of the Federal Government, S.3384, to amend section 11317 of title 40, United States Code, to require greater accountability for cost overruns on Federal IT investment projects, H.R.2631, to strengthen efforts in the Department of Homeland Security to develop nuclear forensics capabilities to permit attribution of the source of nuclear material, H.R.6098, to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to improve the financial assistance provided to State, local, and tribal governments for information sharing activities, H.R.3815, to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to make full and efficient use of open source information to develop and disseminate open source homeland security information products, S.3176, to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to authorize the President to provide mental health and substance abuse services, an original bill to establish a controlled unclassified information framework, H.R.6073, to provide that Federal employees receiving their pay by electronic funds transfer shall be given the option of receiving their pay stubs electronically, to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for 8 weeks of paid leave for Federal employees giving birth, S.3350, to provide that claims of the United States to certain documents relating to Franklin Delano Roosevelt shall be treated as waived and relinquished in certain circumstances, S.3477, to amend title 44, United States Code, to authorize grants for Presidential Centers of Historical Excellence, H.R.5975 and S. 3317, bills to designate the facility of the United States Postal Servicelocated at 101 West Main Street in Waterville, New York, as the "Cpl. John P. Sigsbee Post Office", H.R.6092, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 101 Tallapoosa Street in Bremen, Georgia, as the "Sergeant Paul Saylor Post Office Building", S.3309, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2523 7th Avenue East in North Saint Paul, Minnesota, as the Mayor William "Bill" Sandberg Post Office Building, H.R.6437, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 200 North Texas Avenue in Odessa, Texas, as the "Corporal Alfred Mac Wilson Post Office", and the nominations of Ruth Y. Goldway, of California, to be a Commissioner of the Postal Regulatory Commission, and Carol Waller Pope, of the District of Columbia, and Thomas M. Beck, of Virginia, both to be a Member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. 12:00 am

September 24, 2008

Senate

September 25, 2008

Senate

  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security Hearings to examine addressing cost growth of major Department of Defense (DOD) weapons systems. 02:30 pm
  • Committee on Indian Affairs Business meeting to consider H.R.1294, to extend Federal recognition to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation, andthe Nansemond Indian Tribe, S.514, to extend Federal recognition to the Muscogee Nation of Florida, S.724, to extend the Federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, and S.1058, to expedite review of the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians of Michigan to secure a timely and just determination of whether the Bands are entitled to recognition as a Federal Indian tribe so that the Bands may receive eligible funds before the funds are no longer available. 2:15 pm
  • Select Committee on Intelligence Hearings to examine the nomination of J. Patrick Rowan, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Attorney General. 2:30 pm.
  • Committee on Rules and Administration Business meeting to consider the nominations of Gracia M. Hillman, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Election Assistance Commission, Donetta Davidson, of Colorado, to be a Member of the Election Assistance Commission, Rosemary E. Rodriguez, of Colorado, to be a Member of the Election Assistance Commission, and Gineen Bresso Beach, of New York, to be a Member of the Election Assistance Commission for the remainder of the term expiring December 12, 2009. 2:30 pm.
  • Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Near East and South and Central Asian Affairs Hearings to examine the Middle East peace process, focusing on progress and prospects. 3:00 pm.
  • Committee on Armed Services Hearings to examine the authorization of Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape techniques for interrogations in Iraq, focusing on the Committee's inquiry into the treatment of detainees in United States custody. 9:30 am.
  • Committee on Homeland Security Hearings to examine ways to prevent nuclear terrorism, focusing on hard lessons learned from troubled investments. 9:30 am.
  • Committee on Environment and Public Works Oversight hearings to examine the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) cleanup of the Superfund site in Libby, Montana. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on the Judiciary Hearings to examine S.3501, to ensure that Congress is notified when the Department of Justice determines that the Executive Branch is not bound by a statute. 10:00 pm.
  • Committee on the Judiciary Business meeting to consider S.3259, to amend title 11, United States Code, with respect to the priority of certain high cost credit debts, H.R.3971, to encourage States to report to the Attorney General certain information regarding the deaths of individuals in the custody of law enforcement agencies, S.3501, to ensure that Congress is notified when the Department of Justice determines that the Executive Branch is not bound by a statute, the nominations of Clark Waddoups to be United States District Judge for the District of Utah, Michael M. Anello to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of California, Mary Stenson Scriven to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Florida, Christine M. Arguello to be United States District Judge for the District of Colorado, Philip A. Brimmer to be United States District Judge for the District of Colorado, and Gregory G. Garre of Maryland, to be Solicitor General of the United States, George W. Venables to be United States Marshal for the Southern District of California, A. Brian Albritton to be United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and Dennis Michael Klein to be United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Kentucky, all of the Department of Justice, and the authorization for subpoenas relating to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. 10:00 am.
  • Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Hearings to examine broadband providers and consumer privacy. 10:00 am.

Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.