This Week in Congress 3.03.08 – 3.07.08

CAP has everything you need to stay current on what's happening in Congress this week, from health care to national service, FISA, and more.


The Senate is still considering a second stimulus package that would focus on housing. Last week the bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to end debate, forcing Democrats to try to negotiate a compromise with Republicans about amendments. Republicans also oppose a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of a loan during bankruptcy proceedings. If a deal is reached the bill could be brought back to the floor this week.

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Health Care

The House will consider H.R. 1424, a bill to require equity in mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans. The bill has 273 co-sponsors and is expected to pass easily.

On Wednesday, CAP Senior Fellow Jeanne Lambrew will be testifying before the House Appropriations Committee about expanding access to health care.

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National Service

The House will consider H.R. 2857, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act. The bill will reauthorize and reform national service laws.

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The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act may return to the House floor this week. Republicans and the White House have been demanding a vote on the Senate-passed FISA law, while House leadership has insisted on reaching a compromise between the bill the House passed and the Senate bill. House and Senate negotiators have not been able to reach a compromise. House leaders are now talking about splitting the two titles of the bill and voting on them separately.

This split would allow Democrats to vote against the telecom immunity provision but vote for the authorization to conduct surveillance. The two titles would recombine after passage, effectively passing the Senate bill. Another possibility is to only bring the first title, authorizing surveillance, for a vote and leave the question of immunity for a different debate. The White House and Republicans oppose this option, and President Bush has threatened to veto any bill that does not grant amnesty to the telecommunications companies.

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National Security

The president will veto the Intelligence Authorization bill this week because of a provision requiring the intelligence agencies to follow the Army Field Manual when conducting interrogations. The House is expected to vote on whether to override the veto later this week, but support will likely fall short.

Lawrence Korb will be testifying at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight hearing on “Declaration and Principles: Future U.S. Commitments to Iraq” on Tuesday.

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The Senate and House Budget committees will mark up drafts of their 2009 budget resolutions this week. The budget resolutions are non-binding documents that set the rules of the budget process and mainly highlight top budget priorities. The House budget committee will meet on Wednesday, while the Senate has not set a date for the markup.

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