This Week in Congress 4.28.08 – 5.02.08

CAP prepares you for Medicaid funding, genetic non-discrimination, the Iraqi refugee crisis, and immigration visas.

Federal Aviation Administration

On Monday, the Senate will vote on a cloture motion on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act. The three-year reauthorization serves as a vehicle to address the many difficulties the airline industry has been experiencing, including air traffic control modernization, airline maintenance and safety, and flight congestion and delays. If cloture is invoked the Senate is likely to spend most of the week considering the bill.

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Genetic Non-Discrimination

The House is expected to take up the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, H.R. 493, as amended by the Senate. The bill will prohibit employers and insurers from using genetic information to make hiring and firing decisions or increase insurance premiums. It passed the House under suspension of the rules last April by a vote of 420-3. The House is expected to accept the Senate amendments and pass the bill with little opposition.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bypass the Finance Committee and bring the House-passed bill, H.R. 5613, directly to the Senate floor sometime this week. The bill will block the administration’s Medicaid regulations from going into effect. The House passed the bill with a veto-proof majority but it is not clear if the Senate will have the same amount of support for a bill that is sure to be vetoed by the president.

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Farm Bill

Last Friday, Farm Bill negotiators finally reached an agreement on several key aspects of the new bill. They will hold a formal conference meeting on Monday to discuss the agreement and hammer out the final details. The compromise bill still needs to be approved by both chambers of Congress and the president. Lawmakers may ask for another one-week extension if they are not able to get the conference report on the floor this week.

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Both chambers of Congress are expected to pass a short-term extension of the Higher Education Act while conferees continue negotiations. The current laws expire on April 30.

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Defense Authorization

The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a number of mark-up hearings this week for the FY 2009 Defense Authorization. Chairman Carl Levin has said that he may attempt to add controversial provisions to the bill, including hate crimes language, troop-withdrawal language, or a provision to keep the United States from paying for Iraqi reconstruction. The full committee mark-up is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday.

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The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday to address the growing backlog of immigrant visas.

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On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons.

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