Recapping yesterday's action:
The House met in pro forma session only.
The Senate held no roll call votes, approving the nomination of Andrew Hurwitz to the 9th Circuit by voice vote, which somehow became a matter of great controversy, at least for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). In addition, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) moved to take up and adopt his resolution regarding the alleged White House security leaks, but his request was objected to by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Other than those items and a few non-controversial unanimous consent items, the day was given over to trying to work out deals on amendments to the farm bill. There have been over 100 amendments proposed, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is hoping to keep the work manageable so that the underlying bill doesn't bog down. To that end, he and other Dems are looking at a minimum to restrict things to amendments directly germane to the bill. But to no one's surprise, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has insisted on testing the limits, by attempting to bring an amendment to cut off U.S. aid to Pakistan until that country frees a prisoner said to have helped the CIA locate and target Osama bin Laden. What does that have to do with the farm bill? Nothing. But this prisoner presents a sympathetic figure, and Rand Paul probably doesn't want to pass a farm bill, anyway, so he figures he can gum up the works for a bit, while still looking good for trying to stand up for this guy, even though the situation has nothing to do with agriculture.
Reid responded by moving a basic package of just a few amendments that he hopes will be sufficient to get the bill the necessary support, and then filling the amendment tree in order to block Paul's amendment. The move, however, also blocks everyone else's amendments. So it's something of a calculated risk in terms of whether or not it pisses off enough supporters of the farm bill to turn them into no votes, either on the underlying bill or on cloture. The opportunity is still available to employ some additional parliamentary maneuvering to allow more and different amendments later on, if necessary. But for right now, and for the purposes of Today in Congress in particular, the story is that they'll be moving ahead with just this modest package of amendments.
Looking ahead to today:
That's the set-up you need in order to understand the Senate's day, which will consist of two votes, both of which are technically on amendments offered by Reid, but which actually contain the text of an amendment offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on sugar subsidies, and a different one by Rand Paul on food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. After that, it's anyone's guess as to where they'll go. But that's a problem for tomorrow in Congress, and we'll leave that mess for whichever sucker ends up writing that column to figure out!
Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.
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