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A few items have been wrapped up in the Senate this week, some of them final, necessary action, and a few just kicking the can down teh road a bit.

  • A one-month patch to the Medicare doc fix, a short-term delay to a pending 23 percent cut in Medicare physician payments.
  • Mary Landrieu finally lifted the hold she had on the appointment of Jack Lew to OMB, and his appointment was confirmed.
  • A long-delayed settlement for minority farmers passed today under unanimous consent. The money will fund a settlment "between the Department of Agriculture and black farmers who claimed government discrimination." They also passed $3.4 billion to settle "complaints that the Department of the Interior mismanaged Native American money accounts."
  • As partial relief to America's most vulnerable, they also passed an extension of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This gets a little complicated. They passed a one-year extension for the basic block grant program, which provides assistance to needy families, and two quarters worth of funding in supplemental grants. But they did not include further funding for the Emergency Contingency Fund, a job-subsidy measure from the stimulus bill that created 200,000 jobs for low-income workers. A somewhat mixed bag there, particularly considering the funding to continue TANF came from surpluses in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program. Because you can't have surpluses in programs that help people, apparently. This does not, however, actually cut benefits for WIC participants.

In the House, this week saw mostly treading water with suspension bills, as they have been consigned to do since the passed the hundreds of bills they completed only to watch the Senate be the Senate and not act on the House's hard work. There was one key suspension vote that failed--a three-month extension of jobless benefits. They did uphold the President's veto of the flawed document notarizaton bill that would have made it much more difficult for mortgage holders to legally challenge foreclosure documents prepared in other states.

The Senate will probably pass a food safety bill early next week, before taking off for Thanksgiving. The chances that they will vote on a jobless benefits vote next week seem slim, which means the millions of people whose benefits expire at the end of the month will have to go through the now all-too familiar stress and uncertainty over losing this key source of income.

Post-Thanksgiving, the list is still very long, as could be the session: unemployment benefits and tax cuts, among them.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 03:46 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  many spe? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizenx, bythesea
  •  too many disabled canards n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni),Warning-Some Snark Above

    by annieli on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 03:53:23 PM PST

  •  23% cut in payments to doctors will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NearlyNormal

    turn Medicare into the same unaccepted pariah as Medicaid.  Another health care gift.

    Don't tax the rich, starve the poor.

    by dkmich on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 03:55:22 PM PST

    •  Hope you're not blaming the 1997 Dr Cut On HCR (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, CS in AZ

      Another health care gift

      Maybe I misunderstood that tweet-like comment.

      If you think this cut is threatened or "pending" because of the dread pirate "Obamacare", you'd best check your history (or join the He's A Time Travelling Kenyan Fan Club).  

      In 1997, Congress came up with a formula, the "Sustainable Growth Rate," that set the amount Medicare would reimburse doctors for treating its patients. The formula was constructed to track with both health-care costs and the overall economy. The growth of the first started outstripping the second in 2001, and as a result, the formula began to call for a cut in Medicare payments to doctors. When it came time to make that cut, nobody seemed to want to go through with it. The reason was obvious. If doctors suddenly had to eat a substantial part of the cost of treating Medicare patients, they might drop those patients. "That would cause an uproar from a large voting bloc," says Lori Heim, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "So Congress just postponed dealing with the inevitable."

      Every year since 2001, when the cut has come due, Congress has decided it needs more time to decide how it feels about the issue.

      http://www.newsweek.com/...

      Repeal the Decriminalization of Naked Credit Default Swaps (Bucket Shops) http://www.marketskeptics.com/2010/06/bucket-shops.html

      by Into The Woods on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:24:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If Increases in Dr's Pay Has Exceeded Economic (0+ / 0-)

        Growth by 23% since 1997, is that something that matters to us when most of the country's inflation adjusted incomes have pretty much flatlined?

        Repeal the Decriminalization of Naked Credit Default Swaps (Bucket Shops) http://www.marketskeptics.com/2010/06/bucket-shops.html

        by Into The Woods on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 05:10:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sen. Wyden "killed" the Internet Censorship Bill (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pam from Calif, sherlyle, JeffW, bythesea

    Good things do happen in the Senate from time to time.

    A bill that critics say would have given the government power to censor the Internet will not pass this year thanks to the Oregon Democrat, who announced his opposition during a recent committee hearing. Individual Senators can place holds on pending legislation, in this case meaning proponents of the bill will be forced to reintroduce the measure and will not be able to proceed until the next Congress convenes.

    Even then, its passage is not certain.

    http://www.rawstory.com/...

    Three cheers for Wyden... and one big middle finger to the RIAA.

    Kissing Republican ass gave Obama a Boehner.

    by The Dead Man on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 03:56:49 PM PST

  •  Jack Lew confirmed by voice vote (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, JeffW, annieli

    thanks for hoding up this important appointment since July 13 Mary.

    Boycott Morning Joe until and after he is reinstated.

    by citizenx on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 03:58:21 PM PST

  •  There are only 3 things I care about to pass (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, BarackStarObama

    in the lame duck:

    the DREAM act, DADT repeal, and unemployment benefits.

    If the tax cuts for the rich for a few years is the bargain to get all three things then so be it.

    Jim Manley: "Republicans are making love to Wall Street, while the people on Main Street are getting screwed."

    by Drdemocrat on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:01:01 PM PST

  •  Settlmt passage late victory for Shirley Sherrod (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, sherlyle, annieli

    Shirley Sherrod, run out of her job by another racist fraudulent video by Andrew Breitbart, worked tirelessly for decades for justice to black farmers who were constantly discriminated against by USDA when assistance provided to white farmers was not made available or affective for them.

    The final passage of the bill to actually pay for the settlement means that some degree of justice was finally done.

    Sherrod, a USDA official in Georgia, was fired and then asked to return to the USDA after it was revealed that her videotaped comments, in which she appeared to make racist statements, were taken out of context.  Many African American farmers hope the wrong done to Sherrod will draw attention to the fact that the Senate has refused to authorize $1.15 billion for thousands of black farmers left out of the original $2.3 billion settlement with the USDA.  The same week that Sherrod was thrown under the bus by an agency with a deplorable civil rights track record,  Senators fought along partisan lines about how to fund the last of the settlement payments...

    ...Some 16,000 farmers, including Boyd, received a share of  the first settlement, according to National Public Radio. Each farmer received $50,000 and debt forgiveness.  

    Though Congress agreed to fund additional payments two years ago, including  to those who missed court filing deadlines  or were omitted from the 1999 settlement,  it never authorized the money.  [Note:  this was changed by the legislation passed by the Senate to authorize money for the settlement as mentioned in the main post.]  The House recently approved $1.15 billion for the farmers and then sent the legislation to the Senate.  

    The history of discrimination against black farmers is well documented.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he is committed to changing the agency’s "sordid" legacy.  

    In 1983, the Reagan administration shut down the USDA Office of Civil Rights; it did not reopen until 1996.  A study by USDA researchers in the 1990s found that black farmers received fewer dollars than whites for crop payments, disaster payments and loans.  And black farmers in the class-action suit said that some rural USDA loan officers tore up their applications in their presence.

    While all small-scale American farms are struggling for multiple reasons, black farmers have remained hardest hit, partly due to the history of segregation.  Discrimination by the USDA compounds laws and practices across the nation, and in the South, in particular, that were designed to drive blacks from their land.  

    According to research cited by the Institute for Southern Studies, black farm ownership declined dramatically in the last century, as the farmers were pushed off land by discriminatory policies and practices.  "In 1920, one out of seven U.S. farms were black run; by 1992, African Americans operated one out of 100 farms," according to the institute.  

    Let's celebrate a long delayed victory for black and other minority farmers, as well as for Shirley Sherrod's leadership in this struggle.

  •  Will they stay in session until Dec 23rd? (4+ / 0-)

    Looks like they'll need to.

    Demand Filibuster Reform call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 -AND KEEP CALLING

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:05:11 PM PST

  •  Judges, judges, judges, judges. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, bythesea

    Boycott Morning Joe until and after he is reinstated.

    by citizenx on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:07:26 PM PST

  •  The Amnesty for Mortgage/Forclosure Fraud Bill (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, dharmafarmer

    They did uphold the President's veto of the flawed document notarizaton bill that would have made it much more difficult for mortgage holders to legally challenge foreclosure documents prepared in other states.

    At this point I would not care if they produced certificates from a recognized diety that the language would not even inadvertently reduce consumer protections, it is a tainted bill and putting a stake through it's heart gives at least the impression, the hope, that Congress is not yet completely on the Payroll of Wall Street Banks.  

    If you'll notice, only 5 Republicans voted to protect consumers, while 168 of them voted 'what the heck, lets pass it and let the Banks sort em out.'.  

    Can just imagine what this would look like under the Boehnerite Majority. (What's good for Wall Street, is good for America.)

    Voting to override the President's veto:  

    168 Republicans
    16 Democrats (there's some very strange bedfellows on this one)

    Voting to sustain the President's veto:

    235 Democrats
     5 Republicans

    As I mentioned, according to the 4Closure Fraud site, there are some very strange bedfellows forming the 16 Democrats voting to override - and I'm looking for verification, but if the data is correct, my liberal Congressman (D) is going to get a WTF?! call.

    http://4closurefraud.org/...

    Repeal the Decriminalization of Naked Credit Default Swaps (Bucket Shops) http://www.marketskeptics.com/2010/06/bucket-shops.html

    by Into The Woods on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:10:36 PM PST

  •  Just heard we may be making some process (5+ / 0-)

    Reid is going to hold a decoupled vote...

    and said he will make them filibuster if necessary...

    "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." - Senator Obama, 9-16-2008

    by justmy2 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:17:27 PM PST

  •  Great news they finally passed funds... (6+ / 0-)

    to compensate the black farmers, and the funds for native americans is a pleasant surprise for sure.

    I propose a toast, knowing that our ties subsist because they are not of iron or steel or even of gold, but of the silken cords of the human spirit. 11/9/10

    by BarackStarObama on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:23:23 PM PST

  •  I hope (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32

    Reid keeps them in session until the major bills are passed, especially an Omnibus budget that extends the $ to run the govt thru next year.

    START treaty is also very important

  •  And nothing abolishing Sharia law? (0+ / 0-)

    Where are our priorities?

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:30:33 PM PST

  •  "National Security my Ass!" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer

    To quote Jello Biafra.

    So we can do the following, according to  In Context: US Military Spending Versus Rest Of The World:

    • US military spending accounts for 46.5 percent, or almost half, of the world’s total military spending

    • US military spending is 7 times more than China, 13 times more than Russia, and 73 times more than Iran (note from TWG: even without current war spending, our military budget is several times larger that those of Russia, China and Iran combined).

    • US military spending is some 44 times the spending on the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) whose spending amounts to around $16 billion.• US spending is more than the next top 14 countries at least.

    • The United States and its strongest allies (the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend something in the region of $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.

    But this is the best we can do for the neediest in our society, including children?

    As partial relief to America's most vulnerable, they also passed an extension of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This gets a little complicated. They passed a one-year extension for the basic block grant program, which provides assistance to needy families, and two quarters worth of funding in supplemental grants. But they did not include further funding for the Emergency Contingency Fund, a job-subsidy measure from the stimulus bill that created 200,000 jobs for low-income workers. A somewhat mixed bag there, particularly considering the funding to continue TANF came from surpluses in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program. Because you can't have surpluses in programs that help people, apparently. This does not, however, actually cut benefits for WIC participants.

    National security is established by protecting the lives and property of the citizenry.  Where is the protection for poor children?  Where is the protection for the property of anyone but the richest?

    I am truly tired of a group that is interested in the security of children from conception until birth, but say f*ck'em after that.  This is hypocrisy tat needs to be put in their face at every public venue, in every letter to the editor, and on every call in show possible.

    Recommended reading for radicals:

    The incomparable Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals

    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. This is the single most valuable book I have read on how to persuade and how to avoid being persuaded.

    Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives

    Frank Luntz: everything he’s written.  You have to know the enemy.    Remember the great scene in Patton, when the victorious general shouted: “Rommel! You magnificent son of a bitch!  I READ YOUR BOOK!

    Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Nonprofits

    The Campaign Manager: Running and Winning Local Elections

    How To Win A Local Election, Revised: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

    Guerrilla Marketing

    "Politics is the entertainment branch of industry." -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:32:31 PM PST

  •  AMT patch. (0+ / 0-)

    That one will make it in the lame duck.

  •  gdfgf (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    citizenx

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