Here's a preview of what's coming this week in Congress. I'd love feedback in comments if you have it.
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.
Following special elections in Ohio and Virginia this week, the U.S. House of Representatives welcomed Reps. Bob Latta and Robert Wittman today. Latta won the race to replace deceased Rep. Paul Gillmor, while Wittman was elected to fill the seat opened when Rep. Jo Ann Davis passed away earlier this year.
Wittman and Latta were sworn in on Capitol Hill today by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Latta will represent Ohio's 5th District — a seat held by his father Delbert Latta for 30 years — while Wittman will represent Virginia's 1st District, which is home to defense industry interests and the Quantico Marine base.
Wading through the thousands of votes that Congress performs each year can be an arduous task, but the CMD staff has created the Congresspedia Voting Record Resource Center to help you get to the bottom of what your senators and representative have been doing in Washington. There you'll find step-by-step instructions on how to add information on how they voted on topics like immigration, torture and children's healthcare to their "permanent record" - their Congresspedia profile. By participating, you ensure that the thousands of your fellow citizens who read these profiles will be that much more educated about our government. Head on over to the Voting Record Resource Center to get started. Have fun and, on behalf of your fellow citizens, thanks!
This week: Time is running out to pass the (already overdue) federal budget (including funding for Iraq and Afghanistan), energy and climate legislation, fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax, the Farm Bill and hearings on the erased waterboarding videotapes.
The federal budget and Iraq funding: Lawmakers are quickly running out of time to pass the 2008 federal budget as the last continuing resolution (which continues funding the government at 2007 levels) will expire at the end of the week, and a looming holiday recess is fast approaching.
The House and Senate will take up an omnibus spending package this week that will contain the funding for the remaining 15 cabinet departments and other agencies comprising the federal government (the Defense Department spending bill was approved last month). Democrats – who had already reduced the amount of spending contained in the package over President Bush's budget request from $22 billion to $11 billion – are planning to sweeten the deal further by including funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Click through for the full preview, and to see this week's committee hearings
It's crunch time for Congress. Coming off of their two-week Thanksgiving recess, lawmakers have a full plate on their table: 11 appropriations bills (the bulk of the federal budget) remain to be approved; energy legislation might have a shot in both chambers; warrantless wiretapping will be on the agenda; and the farm bill waits in the wings.
Even with high-profile, controversial subjects on the agenda in both chambers, funding the federal government will have to take front stage soon. Congress included a continuing resolution tucked in the FY08 Defense Appropriations Bill to generally fund the government at the same levels as last year, but that will expire on Dec. 14, and 11 of the 12 spending bills are still unresolved. The House and Senate approps. committees will be busy consolidating funding for 15 Cabinet departments and numerous smaller agencies, with Democratic leaders likely to push for an omnibus spending package rather than try to pass each individually.
For details on the Senate and House calenders, including committee schedules, click through below the fold.
With Congress in pseudo recess this week, no action is expected in either chamber. So, let’s take a look at what to expect once the senators and representatives return from Thanksgiving break on December 3.
The House failed last week to override President Bush’s veto of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriation bill, leaving the Defense bill the only measure approved by both Congress and the White House. While congressional Democrats have made overtures of compromise to the White House on domestic spending, they are preparing an omnibus spending package containing the remaining 11 spending bills not already enacted.
Bills, bills bills: The big order of business for Congress this week is to continue passing the federal budget for the 2008 fiscal year (which started on Oct. 30), including funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The big farm bill and legislation aimed at the mortgage crisis are also on the front burner.
Last week Congress sent the first two 2008 appropriation bills, on domestic and defense spending, to President Bush (twelve must eventually be passed). Congressional Democratic leaders abandoned plans several weeks ago to attach $50 billion in "bridge" funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (about 1/4 of the $196 billion Bush requested for 2008) to the Defense appropriation bill. They now plan to offer the same $50 billion in the Senate this week with language being tied to the money that would require the draw-down of combat forces within 2 weeks of passage, with a complete withdrawal complete by Dec. 15, 2008.
Over the last week in Congress the effort to dramatically expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program hit another roadblock, several media reports on controversial earmarks were released, two members of Congress announced retirements and minor movement was seen on everything from an overhaul of the tax code to warrantless wiretapping and more Democratic investigations into Bush administration officials.
Looming debates over the 2008 Budget will take center stage this week, as Democrats prepare a $700 billion spending bill package for most of the discretionary budget. The package, containing such priorities as Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor and HHS, could be hard for President Bush to veto. Several remaining budget bills might be placed in a second package, while others will see individual fights between Congress and the White House.
DailyKos is a fantastic way to hear the voices of thousands of individuals, but for some purposes a collaborative effort makes more sense. (Hence Recipe for America, Energize America and the Congressional Committees Project). In that vein, we've just launched "Wiki the Vote" on Congresspedia for citizens, professional researchers and even candidates to collaborate on profiles for each and every candidate for Congress in 2008. We've also got an extensive blogroll for every state - featuring many DailyKos diaries - to help random Googling citizens find the blogs their neighbors are writing about their senators and representatives.
Follow me through the jump for info on how you can participate and add your diary or blog if you cover Congress.
Updated with correct listing for Petraeus hearing today.
The marquee events in Congress this week will be the hearings in both chambers of Congress with testimony from General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the Iraq War. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will also hear testimony from Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and FBI Director Robert Mueller on the July National Intelligence Estimate, which claimed that Al-Quaeda had largely rebuilt itself to pre-Afghanistan War levels. Most of these hearings, whose schedules are listed below, are available for live viewing via C-SPAN.
More info and hearing schedule below:
Blogger Atrios lamented today that the Wikipedia entry for "Friedman (unit)" has been targeted for deletion through a merger into the "Atrios" article. A "Friedman", in the parlance of pundits and politicians discussing the Iraq War, is six months. Atrios coined the term on his blog to deal with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's constant invocation of "just six more months" to see how things were going in Iraq, something he began doing on November 30, 2003 and continued to do as late as May 11, 2006. While Friedman has lately moved on to saying that the U.S. should stay in Iraq for "10 months or 10 years," many government officials, pundits and politicians continue to move the goalposts on when it is acceptable to ascertain true progress in Iraq, and six months is an eerily common benchmark.