On Tuesday, the House will consider the Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY08. The package combines 11 of the 12 total individual appropriations bills that have not yet been enacted. The bill evenly splits the difference between President Bush’s request and congressional appropriators’ increases in discretionary domestic funding. Following House consideration, the Senate will take up the omnibus on Wednesday. This is a must-pass measure as the current continuing resolution funding the government only lasts through December 14.
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Senate Republicans last week filibustered an ambitious House-passed energy package that would mandate production of alternative fuels, increase the use of renewable energy sources, and increase automotive fuel efficiency standards. The Senate will take up a revised version of the energy legislation at the end of the week, and a cloture vote is expected on Thursday or Friday.
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The House expects to take up a temporary patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax, which, if left uncorrected, will affect approximately 20 million taxpayers next year. Senate Republicans last week defeated an AMT patch that was fully offset in cost.
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After conferees were appointed last week, the House is expected to consider and pass the 2008 Intelligence Authorization measure by Wednesday. The annual bill outlines policy for the intelligence community.
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Originally scheduled for passage last week, both the House and Senate expect to take up the 2008 Defense Authorization conference report this week. Senate Armed Services Chairman Levin dropped a provision in the Senate-passed version of the authorization bill that expanded the definition of hate crimes to include those based on sexual orientation. Without the controversial hate crimes provision, prompt passage is expected this week.
The House Armed Services Committee will also hold a hearing on Tuesday focusing on security and stability in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen will testify. The Senate Appropriations Committee holds a hearing Tuesday on the president’s Iraq and Afghanistan war funding request. Secretary of State Rice will testify.
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Discussions on amendments to be offered to the Farm Bill have stalled the bill’s progress in the Senate. An agreement has now been reached between Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell on amendments, limiting each side to 20 amendments each. The first roll call votes on amendments will take place on Tuesday, and final passage is possible by the end of the week.
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House and Senate committee leaders this week will meet to finalize a Medicare revision that will stop a scheduled 10 percent pay cut for physicians. Since a long-term expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program has not been agreed to, a short-term extension of the program is also expected to be passed this week. It is likely that both the Medicare and SCHIP provisions will be attached to other legislation, possibly the omnibus appropriations package.
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The House Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing on chemical plant security on Wednesday.
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