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This Week in Congress 2.25.08 – 2.29.08

CAP has everything you need to stay up-to-date on what's happening in Congress this week, from the housing crisis to the war in Iraq, and more.

Housing

The Senate will begin consideration of a second stimulus package focused on alleviating the mortgage crisis. The bill includes $200 million in funding for housing counselors for homeowners, $4 billion in Community Development Block Grant funding, an increase in the cap on mortgage revenue bonds, and a provision allowing companies to write off losses over a longer period of time.

A contentious provision allowing judges to alter the terms of a mortgage during bankruptcy proceedings will need to be worked out between Democrats and Republicans before the bill can proceed.

Meanwhile, the House will consider The Public Housing Asset Management Act. The act requires the federal government and local public housing agencies to negotiate reasonable management fees with property managers and other interested parties and increases the number of units local housing agencies can manage before they are required to manage each housing development on an individual basis.

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Iraq 

The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on “The Iraq War’s Economic Costs” on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, the Senate will vote on two Iraq war policy bills introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). The first would bar funding for Iraq deployments 120 days after its enactment, with exceptions for antiterrorism missions, training of Iraqi security forces, and protection of American forces. The second bill would require a report setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

On Tuesday, The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on “Irregular Warfare and Stability Operations,” while the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on “U.S. Aid to Iraqi Refugees”

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Environment and Energy

The House will consider a bill that will extend tax credits and deductions for alternative energy and energy-efficient investments, offset in part by repealing or reducing tax benefits for large oil and gas companies. The bill reintroduces provisions that were stripped from last year’s energy bill by the Senate. The White House has threatened a veto of similar legislation in the past.

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Health Care

The Senate will resume consideration of the Indian Health Care bill. They are expected to vote on final passage on Tuesday.

Two state governors, Gov. Pawlenty of Minnesota and Gov. Rendell of Pennsylvania, are testifying at a hearing on "State Strategies to Expand Health Insurance Coverage for Small Businesses" before the House Small Businesses Committee on Tuesday.

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Trade

The House will vote to renew trade agreements with Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia under the suspension calendar on Tuesday. If passed the Senate may vote on passage as well.

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Farm Bill

House and Senate negotiators hope to finish work on a compromise between the two versions of the farm bill passed last year. The bill can then proceed to a formal conference report.

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