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The Week in Congress: March 2 – 6, 2009

This week Congress and the administration work on housing and hold hearings on health care and labor, plus voting rights and more work on the budget.

Rush hour traffic on Independence Avenue makes its way past the U.S. Capitol Building. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Rush hour traffic on Independence Avenue makes its way past the U.S. Capitol Building. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Appropriations

Following House passage last Thursday, the Senate will consider a consolidated appropriations bill funding the regular operations of the federal government for fiscal year 2009. Last year, Congress passed three individual appropriations bills for Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security, as well as a continuing resolution funding the remaining federal government programs until March 6. This consolidated bill completes the FY09 funding for the remaining nine appropriations bills.

If both chambers are unable to reconcile the differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions in conference by Friday, a short-term extension of the current continuing resolution will be passed.

Information and analysis:

Recovery and Reinvestment 102

Housing and finance

This week the House will resume consideration of H.R. 1106, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, a package of bills addressing the mortgage crisis. The package includes bills improving the Hope for Homeowners program, allowing bankruptcy judges to modify troubled mortgages, and increasing the borrowing authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Final passage of the bill is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

Information and analysis:

At Last, Help for Homeowners, by Andrew Jakabovics and David Abromowitz

D.C. voting rights

The House will take up H.R. 157, the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act, a bill that expands the House of Representatives to 437 members, giving the District of Columbia delegate full floor voting rights and adding a congressional seat in Utah. Last week, the Senate passed their version of the bill by a vote of 61-37.

Labor

On Tuesday, CAPAF’s Heather Boushey will testify before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections on "Encouraging Family-Friendly Workplace Policies."

Health care

On Wednesday, CAPAF’s Judy Feder will testify before the Senate Special Committee on Aging on examining the role that improving and streamlining long-term care services has in health care and entitlement reform.

Budget

Both chambers of Congress will hold hearings this week focusing on the president’s budget for fiscal year 2010. Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzsag will testify at a House Budget Committee hearing on Tuesday and a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Information and analysis:

Overview: A New, Ambitious Course of Action by Michael Ettlinger
Defense: Obama’s Defense Budget Is on Target, by Lawrence J. Korb
Energy: Energy Budget Is Sunlight After Eight Years of Darkness, by Daniel J. Weiss
Education: Investing Wisely in Our Children, Cynthia G. Brown and Melissa Lazarín
Health care: One Step Closer to Better Health Care by Karen Davenport

Energy and environment

Several committees will hold hearings this week on energy-related issues. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on smart electric grid initiatives, and on Thursday it will focus on future directions of energy research and development. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment will meet Thursday to consider the role of offsets in climate legislation.

Information and analysis:

Green Recovery: A New Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy

Wired for Progress: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid, by Bracken Hendricks