Latest Update from Capitol Hill

Just a quick note to provide everyone with a Congressional update. I would say legislative update but that would be a misnomer since there really is not that much legitimate legislation going on up on Capitol Hill.

The original date for adjournment was tomorrow. Now everyone knew this was a farce since they can NEVER get out on time – so the big question has always been how far past the target date will they go – especially with an election only one month away. Daschle is of course threatening to keep the SEnate in up to the election but I don’t think that is real possibility since the other Senator from South Dakota is in a tough re-election.

Legislatively the Senate is in complete and total gridlock. They have been working on several things over the past few weeks but have not passed anything of much consequence. The Interior approps bill was on the Senate floor for a record Five Weeks! And the Homeland Security was on concurrently for four weeks. Both of these had to be taken off the floor without passage. And now many people think the Senate could actually adjourn without passing the Homeland bill which would be a serious setback for them – considering that the major issue going into the election is expected to be Iraq (i.e. national security)

The House has passed a ton of legislation but is gridlocked over the appropriations process. Essentially due to the the Labor, HHS approps bill they can not and probably will not pass another bill until the election. In the interim they continue to debate and pass legislation that will provide some roadmap to the Nov. elections.

The only thing of consequence that both Chambers expect to pass is the Bush resolution on Iraq. That should be past both houses next week. They also hope to send to the President the Defense Appropriations bill and the DoD re-authorization.

Considering this landscape you would think that Congress shouldl recess sooner rather than later (i.e. in end of next week). However, due to ongoing battles over appropriations and the CR’s (used to fund government for interim) and since no one can decide whether or not they should have a lame duck – I think an October 18th adjournment is much more likely. After that I would expect them to have a CR that goes until after the election and then they will decide on whether to have a full fledged lame duck depending on the results of the election.

In the meantime there is still much mischief that could occur. There are a lot of bills in the pipeline, energy, terrorism re-insurance, mental parity, prescription drugs etc. which could potentially rear their ugly head again. So vigilance is still required!