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HILL UPDATE – 19 September, 2011
House & Senate/Schedule: The House and Senate are both schedule to be in session through Friday, 23 Sept., with members scheduled to return to their home states and districts for the following week. Both houses will reconvene on Monday, 3 Oct.
· On Monday, the Senate will consider H.R. 2832, the bill to extend the Generalized System of Preferences. It is expected that Senator Reid will introduce a substitute amendment to turn this into a bill to reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance instead. Senator McConnell will also introduce an amendment to reauthorize the TAA, allowing the President to “fast-track” trade agreements through Congress.
· The Senate should also be considering the continuing resolution (CR), the bill to keep funding government, once it passes the House. If the CR fails to pass by this weekend, the Senate may stay in session until it passes.
· Notably, Sen. Reid has not taken any major action on the President’s “jobs bill”, and no such action is expected until after the September Recess.
House/Agenda: The House’s primary concern this week will be the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government, detailed below, which they hope to pass on Wednesday. The House will also hear and vote on several other bills this week, including the TRAIN Act to curb EPA regulations. The trade agreements which have been pending for some time will supposedly be taken up after the September Recess.
· The House Committee on Ways and Means will be holding four important hearings this week:
o Wed., 21 Sept. – Analyzing how the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the economic impact of tax reforms. The findings of this hearing will be crucial to passing any comprehensive tax reform in the future. They will discuss “dynamic scoring” – a way of calculating the impact on federal revenue of tax cuts that includes the changes in incentives that tax cuts create. The current calculation are “static” which is to say they assume if you raise taxes to 100% in a $3 trillion economy everyone will still work and you will collect $3 trillion.
o Wed., 21 Sept. – $2.5 billion/year in Medicare’s provider payment services is about to expire, and this hearing will investigate whether or not it is necessary to renew.
o Thurs., 22 Sept. – Energy tax policy will be reviewed to determine whether reforms to simplify and decrease market distortions created by preferential tax treatment should be considered.
o Fri., 23 Sept. – A hearing on work incentives in the Social Security Disability programs, to evaluate how well existing programs are working to allow disabled individuals access to employment, and whether changes need to be made to these programs.
· The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will be holding a hearing on Friday, 23 Sept. about the failure of the government-subsidized energy company Solyndra, with that company’s CEO being among the witnesses.
· The Committee on Energy and Commerce is also scheduled to mark up H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, on Tuesday, 20 Sept., and will vote on the bill on Wednesday.
House/Spending: The House hopes to consider and pass the latest Continuing Resolution to fund the U.S. Government, H.J. Res. 79, on Wednesday, 21 Sept. This C.R. will last through 18 November, and allows for $1.043 trillion in spending as agreed in the Budget Control Act passed in August.
Sen. Reid is expected to attach an amendment to expand disaster relief spending in the bill when the resolution reaches the Senate. It is unclear if he will offset that increase with a decrease in spending elsewhere.
House/Budget: Because of difficulties individually passing and reconciling committee appropriations bills, it is likely that an omnibus appropriations bill for FY2012 will appear towards the end of the year.
House/Regulation: The House is expected to vote on the TRAIN Act this week (H.R. 2401). The bill would establish a committee to review both the short- and long-term economic impact of EPA Clean Air Act regulations, and would delay many of these destructive regulations pending the results of the committee. The committee will be funded using existing appropriations for diesel emissions reduction, and will thus be revenue-neutral. FreedomWorks has issued a Key Vote Notice in support of this bill and our members are flooding Congress with calls of support through our action page.
House/Regulation: The House is expected to vote on H.R. 10, the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act, in November. This crucial piece of legislation, which has been in committees since March, would require all major regulations from executive branch agencies to be approved by Congress before taking effect. This would allow Congress to block unnecessary regulations, and would increase the transparency of the regulatory process for those rules which do pass.
House/Member Initiative: Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-4) has introduced a bill, H.R. 2926, that would abolish the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and fold its responsibilities into the Department of Justice. Last week, FreedomWorks issued a Key Vote notice to H.R. 2587, a related bill to prevent the NLRB from mandating that an employer close, relocate, or transfer employment. The bill, introduced by Rep. Tim Scott (SC-01) passed the House, 238-186, and has been received in the Senate.