This Week in Congress: July 26 – 30, 2010

This week Congress works on the budget appropriations, discusses an energy bill, and hold hearings on START.

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 House will consider the fiscal year 2010 supplemental appropriations bill as modified by the Senate last week. The supplemental now provides $33.5 billion to Iraq and Afghanistan war operations funding, $5.1 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, $2.9 billion in aid for Haiti, and $13.4 billion to compensate Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

The Senate removed several provisions last week that the House had included in a previous iteration of the supplemental, including $10 billion in fully offset funds to prevent teacher layoffs, $5 billion for the Pell Grant program, and money to settle two lawsuits against the federal government brought forth by African-American farmers and Native-American trust account holders. The House is expected to pass the supplemental in full at the end of the week and then adjourn for the August recess.

The House will also take up the first two spending bills for fiscal year 2011 this week. The Transportation-HUD bill provides $126.4 billion for the year, including $46.6 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, $45.2 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, $16.5 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, and $1.4 billion for investments in high-speed rail.

The Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill provides $141.1 billion total in both discretionary and mandatory funding, including $56.8 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs and additional funding to the Veterans Health Administration to deal with Vietnam veterans’ Agent Orange claims.

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Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) intends to begin debate this week on a clean energy bill that will no longer include any climate provisions. The current package is likely to include measures on the Gulf oil disaster and new drilling regulations, create a HOME STAR program, and increase funding for the development of natural gas vehicles. An amendment to add a renewable energy standard will likely be offered. Debate could begin as early as Tuesday afternoon.

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Small businesses and banking

The Senate may continue debate on a small business package this week if it can break an impasse over amendments. There was a successful amendment last week restoring the bill’s $30 billion fund for banks to expand credit availability to small businesses, and this will be combined with the underlying bill’s $12 billion in small business tax breaks. Final passage is possible this week.


The Senate returns on Monday this week to resume consideration of the motion to proceed to the DISCLOSE Act, a bill establishing new restrictions on campaign financing following the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. A cloture vote scheduled for 2:45 PM on Tuesday is expected to fail, as conservatives remain united against the measure.

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CAPAF Senior Fellow Janneke Ratcliffe will testify at Thursday’s House Financial Services Committee hearing “The Future of Housing Finance: The Role of Private Mortgage Insurance.”

Arms control

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds two hearings this week on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Tuesday’s hearing on independent analyses of START will feature testimony from four witnesses; Thursday’s hearing features the testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, Rose Gottemoeller.

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