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Hill Update, 23 January 2012
This Week’s Legislative Highlight: This week’s most notable business is a bill that has NOT passed, as Tuesday the 24th marks the 1,000th day since the Senate has passed a budget. It is perhaps appropriate that this unfortunate milestone coincides with the President’s State of the Union Address, a stark reminder of the irresponsibility of Obama’s fiscal policy.
House/Senate Schedule: The House will remain in session into February, with allowances for each party’s strategy retreat. The Senate will be in session until Presidents’ Day (20 Feb.).
House/Agenda: This will be a light work week for the House. First, the State of the Union Address will preempt business on Tuesday, 24 January. In addition, Republicans held their strategy retreat last week and the Democrats will hold theirs this week. As is traditional, most important legislative business for the year will be held off until after these meetings are through. A full schedule will resume next Monday (30 Jan.).
Senate/Agenda: The Senate is back in town, and their full legislative agenda is unclear at this time. However it does appear that the Protect Online Piracy Act will be addressed Tuesday, and the Senate should vote on the House’s resolution disapproving of raising the debt ceiling on Thursday.
Senate/Regulation: In response to the enormous level of displeasure expressed by major websites and thousands of concerned constitutions, Harry Reid appears likely to “vitiate” the cloture motion on the Protect IP Act (PIPA), S. 968. This move would essentially withdraw the motion to proceed and would suspend the bill, which indicates that Reid doesn’t think he has the 60 votes he needs. PIPA is the bill which would allow the government shut down web sites which even have a tangential relationship (like a link) to a site that conducts online piracy, which would have been the broadest regulatory authority over the internet ever granted to the government.
Senate/Spending: The Senate is likely to vote Thursday on the H.J. Res. 98, the Resolution of Disapproval on the President’s request to raise the debt ceiling to $16.4 trillion. As discussed in last week’s Hill Update, presuming that the resolution passes the House, it has no effect unless the President approves it, as agreed under the Budget Control Act which Congress passed last August.
House/Budget: In response to the milestone of 1,000 days since the Senate has passed a budget, the House will vote on H.Res. 516 on Tuesday, a resolution to remind the Obama Administration “that the passage of a fiscal year 2013 Federal budget is of national importance.” The resolution notes that the House passed a budget in April of 2011, while the Senate has failed to do so since April of 2009.
House/Member Initiative: Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-5) has introduced the Budget Before Borrowing Act, H.R. 3778, which would make it out of order for Congress to consider an increase in the debt ceiling until after a budget resolution has been passed by both chambers. Thus, Congress would have to at least declare how much it intends to spend before reaching for the nation’s credit card.
House/Keystone XL: On Wednesday (25 Jan.), the House Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power is holding a hearing on H.R. 3548, the North American Energy Access Act. Introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (NE-2), this bill would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a permit for the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline project within 30 days after the passage of the bill, and deems the permit issued if FERC fails to act.