In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
FLOOR SCHEDULE FOR THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2010
House Meets At: 10:00 a.m.: Legislative Business
First Vote Predicted: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Last Vote Predicted: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
"One Minutes" (10 per side)
Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 4853 – Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, with an amendment (Rep. Levin – Ways and Means) (Subject to a Rule)
Complete Consideration of S. 3307 - Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Sen. Lincoln – Education and Labor)
Suspensions (2 Bills)
- H.R. __ - Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part IV (Rep. Oberstar – Transportation and Infrastructure)
- H.R. 6469 - To amend section 17 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to include a condition of receipt of funds under the child and adult care food program (Rep. George Miller – Education and Labor)
Postponed Suspension Votes (9 Bills):
- H.Res. 1638 - Supporting the goals and ideals of National GEAR UP Day (Rep. Fattah - Education and Labor)
- H.Res. 1598 - Expressing support for the designation of the month of October as National Work and Family Month (Rep. McCarthy (NY) - Education and Labor)
- H.Res. 1576 - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that a National Day of Recognition for Parents of Special Needs Children should be established (Rep. Burton - Education and Labor)
- H.Res. 1313 - Expressing support for designation of May as "Child Advocacy Center Month" and commending the National Child Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on their 25th anniversary in 2010 (Rep. Griffith - Education and Labor)
- H.Res. 1690 - Supporting the observance of American Diabetes Month (Rep. DeGette - Energy and Commerce)
- S. 2847 - CALM Act (Sen. Whitehouse - Energy and Commerce)
- H.Res. 527 - Commending the NATO School for its critical support of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) efforts to promote global peace, stability, and security (Rep. Tanner - Foreign Affairs)
- H.Res. 528 - Commending the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies for its efforts to promote peace, stability and security throughout North America, Europe, and Eurasia (Rep. Tanner - Foreign Affairs)
- H.Con.Res. 325 - Supporting the goals and ideals of National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day (Rep. Hastings (FL) - Financial Services)
- Conference Reports may be brought up at any time.
Motions to go to Conference should they become available. Possible Motions to Instruct Conferees.
In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Following Leader remarks, there will be a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each. The Majority will control the first 30 minutes and the Republicans will control the next 30 minutes.
The Senate will recess from 12:30pm until 3:30pm to allow for the Democratic caucus meeting.
UPDATE: I've been tipped that the House schedule will likely be thrown off somewhat today, by the necessity of dealing with the censure motion regarding Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY-15). The motion itself could take up to an hour, though it's not clear for how long Members will actually want to speak on the subject, sensitive as it is. Rangel himself, though, has not been shy about discussing the matter, and he's expected to claim an hour of time all by himself, on a point of personal privilege.
UPDATE 2: Expect it around 2:00 pm.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program...
Here's a trick you'll like. So, you can see that the House is finally planning to vote on a middle class-only tax cut bill today. And yet, in all the time you've been waiting for it, you've been hearing that the big problem with just biting the bullet and doing it was that there was the danger that a motion to recommit would end up extending the tax breaks to the rich as well, and spoil the party. So maybe you began to hear that the House might bring the bill to the floor under suspension of the rules, which precludes amendment and motions to recommit [background on these motions and the problems they cause here and here], but requires a 2/3 vote (290 in a full House) to pass. And that seemed unlikely.
Well, how about this instead? Go have a look at what they're calling the "Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010. It's H.R. 4853. Go ahead, click it. Take a look at it. What do you see?
It's really the "Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part III." And that has a familiar ring to it, sort of. The very next bill on the schedule for today is the "Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part IV," but the bill has no number yet, which means it's brand new and the number hasn't been assigned yet.
What the hell is going on here?
The Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part III was originated in the House and passed back in March. (And remember, if there are going to be revenue provisions in this thing, it has to have originated in the House, so that's important.) It then went to the Senate, and sat around until September. When it came to the floor, the Senate amended it, passed the amended version, and sent it back to the House.
Now, the House plans to take up the Senate amendment, which it does under a rule governing debate, just as it would with any bill. And if you want to, you can write the rule for the bill to disallow any amendments to it, and that's just what they've done with this one. But writing a rule to disallow a motion to recommit is just not done. It could be done, but it would be a very, very serious infraction against the rights of the minority. So it's not done.
But guess what? Because this is a bill that's already passed and left the House, and the only changes in it are Senate-made amendments, it can't be recommitted, which means there can't be a motion to recommit. Why not? Well, when a motion to recommit passes, it technically sends a bill back to the committee that reported it out. But this bill has already left the custody of the House when it passed the first time. That material can't be recommitted, and neither can the Senate material, which was never in the hands of the House committee in the first place. So by definition, it can't be recommitted. The only thing that can happen is that the House can agree to the Senate amendment, disagree to it, or agree to it with additional amendments. That's it. No recommittal. And only the amendments the Rules Committee allows.
And what amendment will the Rules Committee allow? An amendment to strip out the current contents of H.R. 4853, and replace it with the new, Middle Class Tax Relief Act.
Now, it'll still have to get past the Senate, and the Senate can't as easily pull the same trick. But this is what the House can do, and it's doing it.
On the Senate side, well, they're not actually going to do any voting today, either. It's a third consecutive day of Democratic Caucus meetings. Strategizing on what to do with this tax bill, for one thing. And further discussions on rules and filibuster reform, so they can have some hope of expounding a Democratic agenda next year, so as not to leave the stage entirely to the Republican House. But we can only guess, until we hear more.
Today's committee schedule appears below.