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This Week in Congress: May 24 – 28, 2010

Congress this week discusses tax extenders, the defense budget, and funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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 House will consider the $200 billion tax extenders package this week, which included COBRA and unemployment benefit extensions through the end of 2010, a Medicare physician payment rate fix, and an increase in Medicaid payments to states. The bill also includes $56 billion in tax increases to partially offset the package, but it remains unclear whether this will actually draw support for the bill from conservatives, especially where it is needed in the Senate. The House floor vote could come as early as Tuesday.

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FY 2011 Defense Authorization bill

The House will debate the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill this week. The bill includes $726 billion for defense programs—an increase of 7 percent over FY 2010 levels. There is also $11 billion for the purchase of 43 F-35 airplanes and $485 million in unrequested funding for that plane’s alternate engine program. The bill does not yet include language on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy, although repeal language is expected to be offered as an amendment during floor debate.

The Senate Armed Services committee will do its full markup of the defense authorization bill on Thursday after a series of subcommittee markups in the days before.

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War supplemental

The Senate returns on Monday to consider the $59 billion war supplemental, which includes $33.4 billion for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, $6.1 billion for State Department operations, $1.3 billion for Haiti disaster aid, $5.1 billion for the FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, and $13 billion for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Debate on the supplemental is expected to last through the end of the week.

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