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This Week in Congress: 9.15.08 – 9.19.08

CAP prepares you for this week's issues, including energy legislation, the Defense Authorization bill, and a possible stimulus package.

Energy

Both the House and Senate are expected to consider energy legislation this week. The House could take up their package as early as Tuesday, which was crafted by Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-NC) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), and will allow all coastal states the option of drilling for oil and gas between 50 and 100 miles off their shores. The bill will also increase investments in renewable energy and conservation. Some conservatives, however, are critical of the bill because it does not require the government to share the revenue from the drilling with the states, but rather invest it into renewable energy projects.

It is unclear when the Senate will begin consideration of their energy package, or what form it will take. They may take up two separate bills—a renewable energy tax incentives bill and a non-tax energy policy bill—or they may combine both into one package. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is likely to use an oil speculation bill as the vehicle for the energy package. There will be three competing plans offered as amendments to the bill: House leadership’s bill, which was developed by Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the “Gang of 10” plan, and a competing Republican plan. It is unclear if any of these amendments will receive the 60 votes needed to pass.

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Defense Authorization

The Senate is expected to finish work on the FY 2009 Defense Authorization bill early this week. Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the bill last Friday, setting up a vote on Tuesday to limit debate on the bill. Bill managers have worked through the weekend to put together a package that will include as many as 60 amendments that will be voted on Tuesday. The Senate will also have to deal with an earmark amendment from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) before voting on final passage.

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Stimulus Package

The House could unveil a second stimulus package this week. The bill will likely provide $50 billion in aid to help the slowing economy. The package is expected to focus on increasing funding for infrastructure projects that will create high-paying jobs across the country. It may also include increased funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, an extension of unemployment benefits, additional federal funding for state Medicaid costs, and possibly some federal money to help the U.S. auto industry.

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