This Week in Congress: January 25 – 29, 2010

The president gives his State of the Union address to Congress this week, and Congress will consider raising the debt limit along with health care reform and solar technology.

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)


President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

After beginning debate last week, the Senate will continue consideration of a measure to increase the national debt limit by $1.9 trillion. Currently pending are the Conrad-Gregg Amendment to create a deficit commission and the Reid Amendment to establish statutory pay-as-you-go budget rules.

Other possible amendments to be offered include the Murkowski Amendment to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment finding on carbon emissions and remove the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, the Coburn Amendment to rescind stimulus funding, and the Sessions Amendment on spending caps. All amendments will require a 60-vote majority for passage. A vote on final passage of the debt limit is likely by the end of the week.

The House and Senate Budget Committees this week hold hearings on the Congressional Budget Office’s budget and economic outlook for 2010. CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf will testify.

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Health care

Leadership in both chambers continue to negotiate on health care legislation. No decisions have yet been made on how to proceed following last week’s election of Republican Scott Brown (R-MA) to the Senate. Senator-elect Brown campaigned on being the 41st vote to block health care legislation, thereby preventing the necessary 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of the bill.

At this point, the House may pass the Senate’s bill in full, then address any concerns that members have through the reconciliation process. Or the House may begin to move separate bills featuring independent policy proposals from the comprehensive bill.

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The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing Thursday on how solar technology development can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating job opportunities. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will focus Wednesday on energy sustainability in the federal government.

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