Not a super productive week, substance-wise, in the House last time around. Last week's "highlights" would be the passage of H.R. 9, the Yet Another Business Tax Cut As If Things Weren't Already Going To Crap Act, and the Return of the Son of Demon Pass II: The Re-Demoning. If you missed last week's "Demon Pass," it was discussed here. And if you missed what the whole "Demon Pass" thing was in the first place, you'll find that here, and why it's so ironic, here.
Last week in the Senate succeeded in squeaking past another judicial nomination (Stephanie Dawn Thacker to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals), and in invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to the postal reform bill. Thought they only got around to that cloture vote because the previous cloture vote, on the motion to proceed to the Paying a Fair Share Act (featuring "the Buffett Rule"), went down to "defeat," because only a majority of the United States Senate wanted it to go forward. And as we know, we can't have that.
This week looks to be another humdinger in the House, with suspension bills already scheduled into Thursday. That's a little unusual, especially so early in the year. While we do frequently see suspension votes stretched into the latter part of the week these days, it's usually not openly planned that way, heading into the week. Holding suspension votes after Wednesday requires a special dispensation from the Rules Committee, and while that's easy enough to arrange and pass on the floor, the fact that we're filling a pre-recess schedule in April (yes, they're taking another recess after this week) with suspensions that last into Thursday is a sign that the Republicans are putting the House into pre-elections mode, and plan to do as little of substance as possible. They'll have to get through the appropriations bills, of course. But beyond that, expect nothing more than throwing non-controversial bones to legislators who need shoring up at home, and political ploys designed to play to the base. And we're talking all the way from now through the election.
But yes, there are plans for some substantive legislation this week. First, the Small Business Credit Availability Act, about which I can tell you next to nothing at this point, except that it has the words "Small Business" and "Credit" in it, and yet is written by a Republican. Low expectations for this one.
Next is the Digital Accountability and Transparency (or, DATA) Act, which is not all that horribly named despite the use of the dreaded Congressional acronym, and also not all that horribly reviewed, despite having been authored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49).
Back to the subject of things slowing down in the House, I want to note that even while it looks increasingly like they're planning to do nothing between now and November, word is they're looking to get seriously busy after the elections, in a lame duck session. Now, I'm old enough to remember the days when Republicans used to say that lame duck Congressional sessions were practically treason. But then again, Republicans think everything is practically treason these days. Still, you'll probably recall that when the very last Congress proposed a lame duck session after the 2010 elections, Republicans screamed bloody murder. Which is why it'll come as no surprise whatsoever to you if they in fact do that very thing themselves. What'll really be interesting is the reaction of the 27 Republican co-sponsors of H.R. 339, the "End the Lame Duck Act."
The Senate returns this week to its highly choreographed procedural dance, beginning with the continued debate of the motion to proceed to the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, from 12-2 p.m., followed by a switch to a two-hour debate on a motion to proceed to a resolution of disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board's latest proposed rule on union representation elections. After that, it's back to the VAWA reauthorization for an hour, and then a jump to executive session for another judicial nomination, which is likely to be the first and only actual vote to come out of all this.
And just to confuse the whole thing even more, there's really no requirement that Senators stick to the subject during any of these shifts. You can expect Senators to sprinkle in their speeches on any one of the various subjects mentioned here today. Or anything at all, for that matter.
The choreography continues on Tuesday, but with slightly more focus, thanks to a unanimous consent agreement reached last week. After a 2:15 p.m. vote on that NLRB resolution, the Senate will move to debate and vote on a laundry list of 39 amendments to the postal reform bill, almost one third of which come from Senators Coburn (R-OK) and Paul (R-KY). Just sayin'. All amendments, and the bill itself, will be subject to the "painless filibuster." That is, all will require 60 votes to pass. That's some deal, isn't it? In exchange for not filibustering the bill, we get to sit through 39 amendments, all of which will end up requiring 60 votes to pass anyway, not to mention the bill itself.
Full floor appear below the fold. No committee meetings are schedule for today.
In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Democratic Whip:
THE WEEKLY WHIP: FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2012In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
First Vote Of The Week: Tuesday 6:30 p.m.
Last Vote Predicted: Friday 3:00 p.m.
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012
On Monday, the House will meet at 11:00 a.m. for Pro Forma Session. No votes are expected in the House.
TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012
On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for Morning Hour debate and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Suspensions (6 Bills)
- H.R. 1038 – To authorize the conveyance of two small parcels of land within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest containing private improvements that were developed based upon the reliance of the landowners in an erroneous survey conducted in May 1960 (Rep. Gosar – Natural Resources)
- H.R. 2050 – Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act (Rep. Simpson – Natural Resources)
- H.R. 2157 – To facilitate a land exchange involving certain National Forest System lands in the Inyo National Forest, and for other purposes (Rep. McKeon – Natural Resources)
- H.R. 2947 – To provide for the release of the reversionary interest held by the United States in certain land conveyed by the United States in 1950 for the establishment of an airport in Cook County, Minnesota (Rep. Cravaack – Natural Resources)
- H.R. 491 – To modify the boundaries of Cibola National Forest in the State of New Mexico, to transfer certain Bureau of Land Management land for inclusion in the national forest, and for other purposes (Rep. Heinrich – Natural Resources)
- H.R. 2240 – Lowell National Historical Park Land Exchange Act of 2011 (Rep. Tsongas – Natural Resources)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2012
On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
Suspensions (2 Bills)
- H.R. 3336 – Small Business Credit Availability Act, as amended (Rep. Hartzler – Agriculture)
- H.R. 2146 – DATA Act (Rep. Issa – Oversight and Government Reform)
Possible Motion to go to Conference on H.R. 4348 – Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II and Democratic Motion to Instruct Conferees
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2012 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business with last votes of the week expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
Suspensions (3 Bills)
- H.R. 2096 – Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2011, as amended (Rep. McCaul – Science, Space, and Technology)
- H.R. 3834 – Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2012 (Rep. Hall – Science, Space, and Technology)
- H.R. 4257 – Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2012 (Rep. Issa – Oversight and Government Reform)
H.R. 3523 – Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Rep. Rogers (MI) – Permanent Select Intelligence) (Subject to a Rule)
Senate Floor Schedule for Monday, April 23, 2012
Following the prayer and pledge, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
At 2:00pm, the Republican Leader or his designee will be recognized to make a motion to proceed to S.J.Res.36, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation election procedures with 2 hours of debate, equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees.
At 4:00pm, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
At 5:00pm, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session to consider Executive Calendar #528, the nomination of Brian C. Wimes, of MO, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri with 30 minutes of debate equally divided and controlled between Senators Leahy and Grassley or their designees. Upon the use or yielding back of time (at approximately 5:30pm), there will be a roll call vote on confirmation of the Wimes nomination.
On Thursday, the Senate reached an agreement to complete action on S.1789, the Postal Reform bill. The Majority Leader announced that the time from 12:00pm-2:00pm, 4:00pm-5:00pm and the time following the vote on Monday evening will be for Senators to debate their amendments to the Postal Reform bill.