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United States Capitol at sunset.  Photo by Mark Noel (mark.noel@mindspring.com).
Recapping Last Week in Congress

Pop quiz! You write last week's recap! Ready? Go!

Just kidding! There was no last week in Congress. There was a last week, of course, but nobody spent it in Congress.

Yes, yes, I heard you in the back, saying there were pro forma sessions. Shut up. Nerd.

This Week in Congress

And the House really comes roaring back into action this week, with a measly four suspension bills, a very nice resolution on the civil rights movement, and two bills hardly anyone has heard much about. The first is another of those Orwellian-sounding deals, the "Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act." The second sounds like a bit of a snoozer, title-wise: the "San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act." You probably shouldn't let yourself be lulled by the boring-sounding name, though. For one thing, water rights have been an almost single-minded focus for the bill's sponsor, the otherwise mostly invisible Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-21). For another, water rights are deadly serious business in the West, and people fight dirty about them. So although it sounds like a bit of a sleeper, I'd be keeping an eye out for the nitty gritty details as they become available.

Besides, what the hell else are you going to do? Aside from the anticipated (but as-yet-unscheduled) return to the transportation bill, there's nothing else to watch. Any energy this 112th Congress has left in it is likely to be poured into the budget, and later, the appropriations bills, before they look to cut out early and hit the campaign trail. Floor time in a do-nothing Congress that already has one eye on adjournment and no hope of serious compromise on a budget just might never really get exciting, unless Republicans resolve to fill it with designed-to-fail political plays. And this week, I guess they're fresh out.

The Senate schedule for today is pretty light. A reading of Washington's Farewell Address, a little break, and then a vote on a district court judicial confirmation. No word yet on the particulars for the rest of the week, but regular Senate watchers know that's not at all unusual. When we last left off, the Senate had failed to invoke cloture on the Reid amendment #1633 (Banking, Finance, & Commerce titles) to S.1813, the Surface Transportation bill. So that's likely where they'll pick up, and keep debating while negotiations continue in the background in search of a deal that can yield six more votes for cloture, which I'm sure they're hoping to vote on by Wednesday, unless they can get a unanimous consent deal earlier.

Full floor and committee schedules are below the fold.

In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Democratic Whip:

THE WEEKLY WHIP: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2012

First Vote Of The Week: Monday 6:30 p.m.
Last Vote Predicted: Thursday 3:00 p.m.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2012
On Monday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Suspensions (2 Bills)

1)   H.R. 1433 - Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012 (Rep. Sensenbrenner- Judiciary)

2)   Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 347 - Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (Rep. Rooney - Judiciary)

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2012 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business with last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m. On Friday, the House is not in session.

Suspensions (2 Bills)

1)   H.R. 665 - Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act, as amended (Rep. Chaffetz - Oversight and Government Reform)

2)   H.R. 3902 - To amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to revise the timing of special elections for local office in the District of Columbia (Rep. Norton - Oversight and Government Reform)

H.R. 2117 - Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act (Rep. Foxx - Education and the Workforce) (Subject to a Rule)

H.R. 1837 - San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (Rep. Nunes - Natural Resources) (Subject to a Rule)

H.Res. __ - Directing the Office of the Historian to compile oral histories from Members of the House of Representatives involved in the historic and annual Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, marches, as well as the civil rights movement in general, for the purposes of expanding or augmenting the historic record and for public dissemination and education (Rep. Sewell - House Administration) (Subject to an Unanimous Consent Agreement)

In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Schedule for Monday, February 27, 2012 and pro forma

SCHEDULE FOR MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2012

The Senate will convene at 2:00pm on Monday, February 27, 2012.  Following any Leader remarks, Senator Shaheen will be recognized to deliver Washington’s Farewell Address.  Upon conclusion of the reading, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:30pm with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.

Following morning business, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session to consider Calendar #409, the nomination of Margo Kitsy Brodie, of New York, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York with up to one hour of debate equally divided and controlled between the Senators Leahy and Grassley or their designees.

Upon the use or yielding back of time (at approximately 5:30pm), the Senate will conduct a roll call vote on confirmation of the Brodie nomination.

Today's House committee schedule:
JUDICIARY---------------------------------------------------------------4:00-Open

Courts, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subc.  On H.R. 4078 – Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012.  2141 RHOB.

RULES-------------------------------------------------------------------5:00-Open

Full Committee.  On H.R. 2117 – Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act.  H-313 Capitol.

SELECT INTELLIGENCE------------------------------------------------------4:00-Ex.

Full Committee.  On ongoing intelligence activities.  HVC-304 Capitol.

VETERANS’ AFFAIRS-----------------------------------------------------------------4:00-Open

Health Subc.  On building bridges between the Department of Veterans Affairs and community organizations that support veterans and their families.  334 CHOB.

No Senate committee meetings are scheduled for today.>
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