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The Week in Congress: May 4 – 8, 2009

This week Congress looks at clean-energy legislation and measures to protect credit card holders, as well as defense appropriations.

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)

Finance and credit

This week the Senate will resume consideration of S. 896, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, this afternoon. The bill increases the borrowing authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to $500 billion and extends $250,000 in deposit insurance coverage for four years. Several amendments are pending, including a substitute amendment from Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT). Final passage of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

The Senate will then begin consideration of S. 414, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act. The bill prohibits certain practices by credit card companies that are unfair to consumers. A similar bill, the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act, passed the House last week by a 357-70 vote. Several amendments will be offered during debate, and it is unclear if the Senate will finish consideration of the bill by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, the House will consider H.R. 1728, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, a bill to establish statutory standards for all mortgage lenders and direct regulators to establish rules concerning foreclosures. The bill was reported out of the Financial Services Committee last week by a 49-21 vote, with eight Republicans voting in favor.

Last week’s Senate-passed Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, S. 386, will be considered in the House under suspension of the rules on Tuesday. The bill expands federal fraud laws to cover mortgage lenders that are not currently subject to federal regulation. Under suspension, the bill cannot be amended and must gain a two-thirds majority vote for passage.

More from CAP:

Report: Sustainable Mortgage Modifications by Andrew Jakabovics

Memo: Saving American Homes 101

Report: Putting Credit Card Debt on Notice by Tim Westrich
 

Budget

Later this week, the White House is expected to submit its full budget proposal for fiscal year 2010 to Congress. Even though Congress passed the FY2010 budget resolution last week, the president’s budget provides appropriators with department-wide and agency-wide funding needs and serves as a general blueprint for spending levels in the upcoming fiscal year. Congress will take into account these recommended spending levels when dividing up the amount of budget authority among appropriations subcommittees.

More from CAP:

Video: President Obama’s Priorities for the Economy with Michael Ettlinger

Public Opinion: Public Backs Obama’s Budget by Ruy Teixeira
 

Defense

The House Appropriations Committee will mark up a supplemental appropriations bill for FY09 on Thursday. The draft version of the legislation provides $83.4 billion in funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of this, $75.5 billion will go toward war efforts, while $7 billion is provided for State Department diplomatic and development efforts. President Obama has requested an additional $1.5 billion in emergency funding to be added to the bill to combat the swine flu outbreak as well as future pandemic responses.

More from CAP:

Column: Swine Flu Tests Public Health System by P.J. Crowley and Andrew J. Grotto

Testimony: Restructuring the Weapon Acquisition System by Rudy deLeon
 

Energy and environment

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment is scheduled to mark up the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a comprehensive clean-energy bill from Chairmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Ed Markey (D-MA) of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will mark up legislation concerning siting and planning for an electricity transmission grid, while the Senate Finance Committee will hold a Thursday hearing on auctioning emission credits under a cap-and-trade system.

More from CAP:

Column: Climate Change and International Competitiveness by Jake Caldwell

Report: Wired for Progress 2.0: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid by Bracken Hendricks

Memo: We Must Seize the Energy Opportunity or Slip Further Behind by Ben Furnas