This Week in Congress: August 3 – 7, 2009

This week the Senate considers agricultural appropriations and health care legislation and decides the fate of the Cash for Clunkers program.

Rush hour traffic on Independence Avenue makes its way past the U.S. Capitol Building. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Rush hour traffic on Independence Avenue makes its way past the U.S. Capitol Building. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


The Senate returns today to resume consideration of the fiscal year 2010 Agriculture-Rural Development appropriations measure, with one week left until their August recess. The bill provides $100.9 billion in mandatory funding and $23.6 billion in discretionary spending to the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The bill’s mandatory funding includes $61.4 billion in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (otherwise known as food stamps) and increases the funding level for nutrition assistance for women, infants, and children by nearly $700 million over FY 2009 levels.

A cloture vote is scheduled for 5:30 pm tonight following Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) motion to invoke cloture on Friday evening. A vote on final passage is expected tonight or Tuesday morning.

More from CAP:


Cash for Clunkers

After the $1 billion initially appropriated for the Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash for Clunkers) was exhausted last week and the House appropriated an additional $2 billion, the fate of the program now lies in the hands of the Senate. The program has strong support from the White House and Democratic leadership in both chambers, but Senate Republicans have expressed concerns about the program’s impact on used car dealers as well as the propriety of redirecting stimulus dollars.

The $2 billion provided by the House last week draws from money previously allocated for renewable energy loan guarantees under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Other obstacles include the possible introduction of an amendment in the Senate that would raise fuel efficiency standards and require passage by the currently recessed House. Senator Reid could file for cloture as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

More from CAP:


SCOTUS nomination

After last week’s 13-6 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the full Senate could vote on confirmation of her nomination as early as Thursday.

More from CAP:


Health care

The House version of health care overhaul legislation cleared the final committee hurdle last Friday as the Energy and Commerce Committee voted in favor of the bill, 31-28. Negotiations continue throughout this week in the Senate Finance Committee, which is the last committee in either chamber to have not completed a markup. Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has set a deadline of September 15 to get a bill before the full finance committee. Finance Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said today he believes a health care bill could arrive on the president’s desk by mid-November.

More from CAP:

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.