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Capitol dome in sun setting light - photo by mimi - 11/24/2011
Recapping yesterday's action:

The House snuck in a few suspension bills early on, before diving back into the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. It was another marathon session, and by late last night they debated some twenty-plus proposed amendments. Oh, let's see... there was one prohibiting the use of funds for defending court challenges to the Affordable Care Act. And one to prohibit the use of funds to litigate against any of state on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board pertaining to secret ballot union elections. And one to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Justice to bring any action against any state for implementation of a state law requiring voter identification. And of course, one to prohibit the use of funds to implement a section of the Americans with Disabilities Act which allows miniature horses to be used as service animals. Gotta have that.

You get the idea, though. Minus that last one, maybe.

The Senate returned, at least technically, to the motion to proceed to the student loan bill. But they never did get around to reconsidering the cloture vote, which probably means there were some negotiations going on in the background, but no movement on votes. As a result, they had to fill their floor time with random debate, and a few non-controversial items passed by unanimous consent. Not much.

Looking ahead to today:

Another late, late night in the House left us without a schedule posted before midnight, but by the wee hours, the Majority Leader's site had something for us to go on. It looks like we can expect a brief break in the appropriations action, clearing the way for the budgetary shenanigans aimed at undoing the defense-related portion of those supposedly automatic, across-the-board spending cuts imposed by the debt ceiling deal from last August. At the beginning of the week, the schedule said that was supposed to come in the form of the "Sequester Replacement Act," and its sister bill, the "Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act." But now, the two bills have been folded into one, and the reconciliation bill will be the one coming to the floor today.

And yes, I did say... RECONCILIATION!

Remember when it was all the (Republican) rage to pretend that reconciliation was the same thing as the "nuclear option"? Hilarious! But of course, it's all cool now. This despite the fact that normally, the authority to bring a reconciliation bill to the floor must arise from the adoption of a budget containing reconciliation instructions. Of course, no such budget has actually been adopted. But no matter. The Republicans "deemed" their budget passed last month. Remember? Well, that fake budget had reconciliation instructions in them. Only, we found out yesterday that the numbers were wrong, and they had to deem some new ones in there, by jamming a fix into the rule for the appropriations bill they're still working on.

So how about these last few weeks, huh? The insane Ryan budget, the return of "Demon Pass," and now the use of reconciliation without any actual authority for it, but doable because they deemed themselves authorized, and waived all the rules against bringing the bill to the floor. And just for good measure, the whole thing will be debated for just two hours, with no amendments allowed. Who'd have thunk it? Besides everyone in the whole damn world, that is.

Meanwhile, the whole thing is a farce anyway, since the deeming is only valid insofar as the House is concerned. The House can't deem anything for the Senate, and there's no indication the Senate has any interest in passing any of this crap. Besides which, reconciliation's magic is only really of interest in the Senate, since it's protected from the filibuster there (where it gets 20 hours of debate, by the way). The House never really needed special handling rules for reconciliation, because they could always make them up as they went along. But the special magical powers reconciliation has in the Senate have to be triggered by the adoption of reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution, and the Senate hasn't done that, and doesn't seem likely to do so. They certainly aren't interested in adopting the ones the House deemed them to have passed. So in the end, although House Republicans are breaking all the rules in order to pretend they have both a budget and a reconciliation bill, there's a whole other house of the Congress that knows it's all make believe, and to which none of this pixie dust bullshit applies.

The Senate, for its part, isn't even really entirely sure what they'll be up to today. The student loan bill—or rather, the motion to proceed to it—is still hanging out there. If Harry Reid has reason to believe there's been some movement on the votes, he retains the right to call for its reconsideration, since he switched his vote to "no" on the last attempt at cloture on this motion. (Any Senator who voted with the majority has the right to call for reconsideration.)

But absent any movement on cloture, Plan B is to take up the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act. I'm not sure offhand what the status of that bill is, and whether there would be any resistance to moving directly to consideration of the bill (as opposed to getting bogged down on a motion to proceed to it). But if the sun comes up in the East today, I think there's a good chance Republicans will say no to this one, too.

Whatever they do, it'll be done while they happily ignore the make-believe game going on in the House.

Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.

In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:

On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.
First votes expected: 10:00 - 11:00 p.m. Last votes expected: 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

One Minute Speeches (5 per side)

H.R. 5652 - Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, Rules Committee Print (Closed Rule, Two Hours of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan / Budget Committee / Agriculture Committee / Energy and Commerce Committee / Financial Services Committee / Judiciary Committee / Oversight and Government Reform Committee / Ways and Means Committee)

Complete Consideration of H.R. 5326 - Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf / Appropriations Committee)

Special Order Speeches

In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Senate Schedule for Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Senate will convene at 9:30am on Thursday, May 10, 2012.  Following the prayer and pledge, the Majority Leader will be recognized.

During Thursday’s session, it is possible the Senate will consider S.2343, the Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act as well as H.R.2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act.

5/09 wrap-up:
Senate Floor Wrap up for Wednesday, May 9, 2012



Passed S.2224, To require the President to report to Congress on issues related to Syria with Corker-Webb substitute amendment.

Adopted H.Con.Res.105, authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for an event to celebrate the birthday of King Kamehameha.

Adopted H.Con.Res.106: a concurrent resolution authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby.

Adopted H.Con.Res.117, a concurrent resolution authoring the use of the Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

Adopted H.Con.Res.118, a concurrent resolution authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Adopted S.Res.450, designating May 15, 2012, as “National MPS Awareness Day”.

Adopted S.Res.451, recognizing the goals of National Travel and Tourism Week and honoring the valuable contributions of travel and tourism to the United States of America.

Adopted S.Res.452, designating July 13, 2012, as “Collector Car Appreciation Day” and recognizing that the collection and restoration and classic cars is an important part of preserving the technological achievements and cultural heritage of the United States.


Today's House committee schedule:

Today's Senate committee schedule:

9:30 am
        Energy and Natural Resources
                Hearings to examine S.2374, to amend the Helium Act to ensure the expedient and responsible draw-down of the Federal Helium Reserve in a manner that protects the interests of private industry, the scientific, medical, and industrial communities, commercial users, and Federal agencies.

10:00 am
        Armed Services: Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
                Hearings to examine current readiness of U.S. forces in review of the Defense Authorization request for fiscal year 2013 and the Future Years Defense Program.

10:00 am
        Commerce, Science, and Transportation
                Hearings to examine the nominations of Patricia K. Falcone, of California, to be an Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, Marietta S. Robinson, of Michigan, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and William P. Doyle, of Pennsylvania, and Richard A. Lidinsky, Jr., of Maryland, both to be a Federal Maritime Commissioner.

10:00 am
                Hearings to examine Medicare physician payments, focusing on understanding the past so we can envision the future.

10:00 am
        Foreign Relations
                Hearings to examine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), focusing on Chicago and beyond.

10:00 am
        Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
                Hearings to examine helping the middle class balance work and family.

10:00 am
                Business meeting to consider S.2276, to permit Federal officers to remove cases involving crimes of violence to Federal court, S.2554, to amend title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to extend the authorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program through fiscal year 2017, and the nominations of David Medine, of Maryland, to be Chairman, James Xavier Dempsey, of California, Elisebeth Collins Cook, of Illinois, Rachel L. Brand, of Iowa, and Patricia M. Wald, of the District of Columbia, all to be a Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

10:30 am
        Appropriations: Subcommittee on Department of Defense
                To receive a closed briefing on proposed budget estimates for fiscal year 2013 for Pacific Command Programs.

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