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The Week in Congress: March 23 – 27, 2009

This week Congress and the administration continue working on the president's proposed budget, consider the GIVE Act, and hold several health care hearings.

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)

Budget

Both the House and Senate Budget Committees are scheduled to mark up the FY2010 budget this week—the House in a marathon session on Wednesday and the Senate on Wednesday and Thursday. Both chambers are still scheduled to consider their budget resolutions on the floor next week. Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-SC) have indicated that they will have to modify the president’s proposed budget outline in order to ensure passage of the budget resolution, but both intend to maintain the overall goals of the Obama budget.

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Taxes

The Senate this week will consider legislation increasing the tax rate on bonuses paid out by American International Group and other companies receiving funding under the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) placed two bills on the calendar: The House-passed H.R. 1586 and a bill from Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), S 651. It is unclear which bill the Senate will consider, but more information will be available later in the week.

The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to mark up their version of legislation addressing the bonuses paid out by TARP recipients on Wednesday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will testify.

National service

Following last week’s House passage of H.R. 1388, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education, or GIVE Act, the Senate will begin debate on the bill today, with a cloture vote on the motion to proceed expected this evening. The GIVE Act reauthorizes several national service programs and expands the AmeriCorps program from 75,000 to 250,000 volunteers.

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Energy and environment

The House will again consider the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, a package of legislation designating over 150 areas as national parks and forests. Originally, the Senate passed the bill in early January, but the House failed to pass the bill under suspension of the rules, coming up three votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority vote for passage. Last week the Senate passed the bill again, with the addition of a provision concerning hunting and fishing in designated wilderness areas. The House is expected to vote Wednesday on that Senate-passed measure. Passage will clear the bill for President Obama’s signature.

Health care

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care holds a hearing entitled, “The Role of Long-Term Care in Health Reform.” CAPAF Senior Fellow Judy Feder will testify.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions holds a hearing "Addressing Insurance Market Reforms in National Health Reform." Also that day, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing entitled, "Making Health Care Work for American Families: Improving Access to Care."

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