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U.S. Senate building at daybreak, Jan. 22, 2012.  Photo by Mark Noel (mark.noel@mindspring.com).
Look away! I'm hideous! Look awaaaaaay!
Recapping yesterday's action:

OK, before I begin, I just want to make clear that I'm not responsible for the Congressional schedule. Nor do I make it up out of thin air.

Now, I don't think any of you think I am responsible for it. Nor do I think any of you think I'm making it up each day. But I just want to be absolutely clear about things before I tell you what happened yesterday, and what's anticipated today.

As you know, the House is not in session this week.

The Senate, however was... there.

OK, I'm procrastinating. Look, the Senate was supposed to do one thing and one thing only yesterday (not counting eating lunch). They were supposed to execute their agreement to adopt the motion to proceed to the FDA bill at 2:15. But they didn't do it. First, they delayed it until 4:00. Then they delayed it again, until 11 a.m. today. I don't know why, exactly, although it probably had something to do with amendments. But the bottom line is that they had a unanimous consent agreement in place, and then kept unanimously agreeing to unanimously agree to the motion to proceed at some later time.

So that was it. They had lunch, they agreed to agree a few times that they should get back together and agree later. And the one thing that actually moved the ball on a piece of legislation was that they started the Rule XIV process for bringing two bills directly to the floor without sending them through committee: 1) S.3220, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and; 2) S.3221, the Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act. That'll make those two bills eligible for floor consideration by today, though it's not by itself any guarantee that they'll actually get that floor consideration, whether today or ever.

Looking ahead to today:

Deep breath.

Today, the Senate will... do what it was supposed to do yesterday. Or, perhaps I should back off of that a little bit. The Senate is supposed to do today what it was supposed to do yesterday. That is, they're slated to agree to the motion to proceed to the FDA bill at 11 a.m. today. But first, they'll spend an hour or so "debating" it some more. Naturally!

And after they agree to the motion to proceed? Well, uh... they'll proceed. For another hour. And then what?

Well, nobody knows, exactly. They'll definitely continue consideration of the bill, which means they'll be "debating" some more, though at least at that point they'll finally be officially debating the bill itself, rather than pretending to debate the question of whether or not to start debating the bill. But how long they'll debate is anyone's guess.

The real debate will be going on off the floor, where the party leaders will be trying to reach an agreement on how many and which amendments will be offered. If they can reach a deal, great. If not, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) might just end up having to file for cloture on the bill, and throwing it to the 60-vote test. Or, he may decide to switch gears once the Paycheck Fairness bill becomes eligible for floor consideration, leaving the FDA bill for later. This report indicates that Reid is planning to file cloture on the Paycheck Fairness Act on Thursday. But filing on Thursday would mean no vote would be possible (absent a unanimous consent agreement) until at least Saturday, and the chance of the Senate sticking around for Saturday votes prior to a recess seems pretty slim, especially since even a successful cloture vote can still mean another 30 hours before there's a vote on the actual bill on which cloture was invoked. Besides, filing cloture on the bill assumes they're going to get past the motion to proceed before Thursday, which also seems unlikely, unless there's an agreement I don't know about. So I have my doubts about whether that's right.

In any case, whether it's Thursday or Saturday or next month when they actually have a vote on final passage, it's not today. And this is Today in Congress. I just felt like I owed you a little something more than telling you that they didn't do anything yesterday, but that they were totally gonna get it done today.

Lastly, thank you all for your kind comments yesterday. Amazingly, if I didn't know why I did this yesterday, it can hardly be any less confusing for me today, seeing how they're making a second attempt at what it was that drove me up the wall yesterday. But it seems your kind words of appreciation convinced me to come back.

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

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

Senate Schedule for Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Convenes: 9:30am

Following the prayer and pledge, the Majority Leader will be recognized. It is his intention to resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.3187, the FDA user fees legislation.

Following the remarks of the Majority Leader and the Republican Leader, the first hour will be equally divided and controlled between the two sides with the Republicans controlling the first half and the Majority controlling the final half.

At 11:00am, the motion to proceed to S.3187 will be adopted, the Harkin-Enzi substitute amendment will be agreed to and considered original text for the purposes of further amendment. The Majority Leader will then be recognized.

Additionally, the Majority will control the time from 1:00pm until 2:00pm.

We are working on an agreement for amendments to the FDA user fees legislation.  We hope an agreement can be reached without filing cloture on the bill.  Senators will be notified if an agreement is reached and when votes are scheduled.

5/22 wrap-up:
Senate Floor Wrap Up for Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No ROLL CALL VOTES

LEGISLATIVE ITEMS

Began the Rule 14 process of S.3220, the Paycheck Fairness Act. (Mikulski and others)

Began the Rule 14 process of S.3221, the Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act. (Rubio and others)

No EXECUTIVE ITEMS

Today's Senate committee schedule:
9:30 am
        Armed Services: Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
                Closed business meeting to markup those provisions which fall under the subcommittee's jurisdiction of the proposed National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013.
SR-232A        

10:00 am
        Appropriations: Subcommittee on Department of Defense
                Hearings to examine the fiscal year 2013 Guard and Reserve budget overview.
SD-192        

10:00 am
        Finance
                Hearings to examine progress in health care delivery, focusing on innovations from the field.
SD-215        

10:00 am
        Foreign Relations
                Hearings to examine The Law of the Sea Convention (Treaty Doc. 103-39), focusing on the United States National Security and Strategic Imperatives for Ratification.
SH-216        

10:00 am
        Judiciary: Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts
                Hearings to examine protecting our children, focusing on the importance of training child protection professionals.
SD-226        

10:00 am
        Veterans' Affairs
                Hearings to examine seamless transition, focusing on a review of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.
SD-562        

10:30 am
        Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
                Hearings to examine the Secret Service, focusing on trust and confidence.
SD-G50        

2:00 pm
        Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance
                Hearings to examine reviewing the United States-China strategic and economic dialogue.
SD-538        

2:00 pm
        Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
                Hearings to examine democratization in the Caucasus, focusing on elections in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and how far free and fair elections have come in the Caucasus, and what the United States can do to promote progress in upcoming elections.
RHOB-2203        

2:30 pm
        Armed Services
                Closed business meeting to markup the proposed National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013.
SR-222

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