In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
FLOOR SCHEDULE FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2010
House Meets At... 9:00 a.m.: Legislative Business
First Vote Predicted... 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Last Vote Predicted... 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
"One Minutes" (5 per side)
Complete Consideration of H.R. 2701 - Intelligence Authorization Act (Rep. Reyes – Intelligence) (Subject to a Rule)
Postponed Suspension Vote (1 Bill):
- H.Con.Res. 238 - Recognizing the difficult challenges Black veterans faced when returning home after serving in the Armed Forces, their heroic military sacrifices, and their patriotism in fighting for equal rights and for the dignity of a people and a Nation (Rep. Kissell – Veterans’ Affairs)
- 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:
There will be no roll call votes after 12:00 noon on Friday, February 26.
The House is back in session today to finish up the week's business, including the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization bill. Yes, FY2010 is five months old already, but there hasn't been an intelligence authorization bill since 2004, and frankly, the intelligence system could use a little tinkering.
But the bill was pulled from the floor yesterday over a controversial provision that's apparently now coming out. The controversy: reaffirming that it's illegal to torture people.
Republicans objected on substantive grounds, on which they're largely wrong, but made their fight on procedural grounds, on which they're at least closer to right. The provisions in question were added to the manager's amendment approved for floor action in Wednesday night's Rules Committee hearing, and Republicans felt blindsided, no doubt as though someone had thrown a hood over their heads, bound their hands and throttled them. Adding this measure to the manager's amendment has the effect of allowing the House Intelligence Committee to bypass having hearings on the proposal, and holding a vote in committee on including it in the bill. There's still a vote on the floor, but only on the overall manager's amendment, which contains a number of not necessarily related provisions, so the vote's not very "clean" on the issue.
Intel committee Ranking Member Pete Hoekstra (R-MI-02) made a decent case for his side in saying:
"Would someone on the other side please explain the rationale behind this and why the majority was unwilling to have hearings on this issue?" he said.
But then pretty much immediately overstated things by saying:
"Republicans brought this to the attention of the American people, who were rightly outraged that Democrats would try to target those we ask to serve in harm’s way and with a unified push we were successful in getting them to pull the bill," Hoekstra said in a statement. "The annual intelligence bill should be about protecting and defending our nation, not targeting those we ask to do that deed and giving greater protections to terrorists."
I doubt very much whether the bulk of the American people were aware that this was brought to their attention, much less that they became outraged over it and contacted Congress asking them to pull the bill. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that they weren't aware, and didn't become outraged. And that's not to mention the fact that yes, the intelligence authorization bill really kind of is about setting intelligence policy. That's actually pretty much all it's supposed to be about, as is the case with all authorization bills.
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, unemployment insurance and COBRA extensions are still being filibustered by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), who is at this point pretty much considered a crazy old coot even by his own side. Bunning is objecting to unanimous consent requests to pass even a temporary extension, and Roll Call (subscription only) is reporting that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is fighting back:
Retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) late Thursday launched a one-man crusade to block an extension of unemployment and COBRA insurance benefits, vowing to allow the benefit programs to expire Sunday unless Democrats agreed to pay for them with unused stimulus funds.
Bunning’s quixotic pursuit of deficit offsets at the potential expense of payments to unemployed or uninsured citizens enraged Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other Democrats, who vowed to keep the chamber in session until Bunning relents or collapses.
A senior Democratic leadership aide said Durbin would ask for unanimous consent to pass the extensions without Bunning’s payment scheme every half hour for the foreseeable future. "We’re going to keep doing it until we break him," the aide said.
But I guess that's more of a prospective plan, because although they stayed in session late last night, they didn't stay in overnight. Bunning's not in the best of health, and if the plan involves "breaking him," it probably should include making him stay up kind of late or something. If you think that's mean, consider that he's blocking unemployment benefits for those hard hit by the recession, when he himself, as a Hall of Fame pitcher, can generate cash for himself any time he needs it (and often does) just by signing his name to a baseball. Maybe not everyone in America can turn a pen into an ATM, Jimbo. So I say, if he can stay planted in his chair overnight for days on end without a bathroom break so he can be on hand to object, God bless him. Fine. If other Republicans want to take his place and be the ones to continuously object to the extension of COBRA and UI, that's up to them.
But if we're gonna "fight back," we have to, you know, do it. And not just when we don't feel sleepy.
Full committee schedule for the day appears below.
In the committees: