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This Week in Congress: June 22 – 26, 2009

Congress this week works on four appropriations bills and debates energy and health care 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)

Appropriations

The House and Senate are expected to begin consideration of four appropriations measures this week. The House will take up the $42.6 billion fiscal year 2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill and the $32.3 billion FY2010 Interior Department appropriations package.

The Senate will also consider the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill and may take up legislative branch appropriations later in the week. Both bills cleared the full Senate Appropriations committee last week.

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Defense

House floor debate will begin this week on the FY 2010 defense authorization bill. The House Armed Services Committee last week reported the bill out of committee by a 61-0 vote. The bill authorizes $550.4 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense and national security-related programs within the Department of Energy and an additional $130 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) is expected to offer an amendment to the bill that would require the Pentagon to present an exit strategy for Afghanistan before the end of the year.

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Health care

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is scheduled to continue marking up its 600-page health care overhaul—The American Health Choices Act—this week. The committee, which has been meeting since last Wednesday to make changes to the bill, is expected to reconvene Monday afternoon. Committee members met with CBO officials on Monday morning to discuss cost for three of the bill’s key sections: a public option, a possible employer mandate, and rules for generic biologic drugs.

Three key House committees—House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor—will meanwhile begin examining another draft health care bill released at the end of last week by House chairmen. Ways and Means holds a Wednesday hearing on pending CBO cost estimates, while the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and the House Education and Labor Committee will both hold hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

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Energy and Environment

The House was expected to vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act this week, but prospects for a vote on the comprehensive climate and energy legislation before the Fourth of July recess are now uncertain. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Friday that he did not expect the bill to come to the floor this week unless the bill’s managers reach a deal with Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and other key players.

Reports do indicate that the House is making progress on other key issues—specifically, the implementation of the proposed cap and trade system and the EPA and USDA’s under the new legislation. The bill is tentatively scheduled to come to the floor for a vote on Friday of this week.

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