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This Week in Congress: June 21 – 25, 2010

This week Congress continues negotiating tax extenders and budget legislation, and looks to wrap up conferencing on financial regulatory reform.

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)

Tax extenders

The Senate will continue negotiations on tax extenders this week after the chamber’s failed 56-40 cloture vote on the floor last week. Despite having already slimmed down the bill to $55 billion, no Republicans and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) still voted against the bill over concerns of expanding the federal deficit. While the Senate may try to finish the bill again this week, there is an increasing possibility it will be set aside in favor of smaller pieces of economic legislation.

The Senate did pass a six-month Medicare physician payment fix by unanimous consent, which the House must now consider even though it is significantly shorter than the House-passed payment fix of 19 months. Also lingering in the Senate is the $24 billion in additional federal Medicaid funding for states, which may put many states in a bind as state fiscal years often begin in July.

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Financial regulatory reform

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Senate-House conference committee will be meeting to finish resolving language between the two versions of the financial regulatory reform bill. House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) hopes to wrap up work in time for the legislation to be finally approved by the July 4 recess.

Banks and credit unions are lobbying heavily against the provision that would require the Federal Reserve to establish “reasonable and proportionate” fees for debit card transactions. Large banks are also trying to weaken Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AR) provision that would require them to spin off their swaps desk or risk losing access to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance backing and the Federal Reserve’s discount window.

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Fiscal year 2011 budget and appropriations

House Democrats will continue to negotiate budget legislation, which will not be the traditional budget resolution but instead a one-year deeming resolution to set discretionary spending levels for fiscal year 2011. House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-SC) said he hoped to be able to announce something midweek.

On Thursday, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its FY 2011 spending bill, the first of 12 subcommittees to do so in the annual appropriations process.

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