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This Week in Congress: February 1 – 5, 2010

The president releases his 2011 budget, plus Congress discusses "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and could begin to move again on health care.

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)

Budget

President Barack Obama submitted his budget for fiscal year 2011 today. As announced last week, the budget includes a top-line spending freeze at FY 2010 levels for non-security-related discretionary spending. The president’s budget also sets a goal of achieving primary balance—where federal revenues equal program spending—as called for in CAP’s “A Path to Balance” report.

The House will take up last week’s Senate-passed bill to increase the national debt limit, which includes statutory pay-as-you-go budgeting language. Like earlier House-passed PAYGO measures, the Senate’s language exempts from offsets of the Alternative Minimum Tax fix, middle-class tax cuts, changes to the estate tax, and Medicare provider payment cuts. The House is not expected to amend the Senate-passed legislation; the bill will be cleared for President Obama’s signature following Senate passage of the bill.

For more on the budget, see:

Defense

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday focusing on the president’s FY 2011 defense budget request, as well as on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. President Obama announced his plans to repeal the law this year in last week’s State of the Union address. This will be the first Senate hearing on DADT since 1993. The House Armed Services Committee will follow with its own hearing on the FY 2011 budget request on Wednesday.

The House Armed Services Committee will feature testimony from senior Department of Defense officials on Thursday as they discuss the Quadrennial Defense Review, released earlier today by the Pentagon.

For more on "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell," see:

Jobs

Senate Democratic leadership is expected to release details on a series of job creation proposals this week. It is unclear if the jobs provisions will be packaged as a single bill or considered piecemeal, but items under consideration include further extensions of unemployment and COBRA health benefits, tax incentives for employers to hire unemployed workers, highway and transit funding, and eliminating capital gains taxes for small businesses.

For more on job creation, see:

Health care

Leadership in both chambers hope to agree on a strategy this week for moving comprehensive health care legislation. Negotiations in recent days have pointed to a scenario where the Senate first passes fixes and compromises through the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority vote. The House will then vote on the Senate-passed health care bill in full, clearing it for the president’s signature.

For more on health care reform, see: