This Week in Congress: November 15 – 19, 2010

In the first lame duck session of Congress leadership elections will be held along with votes on fair pay, energy, and telecommuting.

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 Senate will hold a cloture vote on Wednesday on the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by allowing full recovery of damages for sex-based pay discrimination, closing loopholes in employer defenses, protecting employees who share salary information from retaliation, and improving the government’s ability to collect data and enforce our equal pay laws. The act passed the House in January 2009.

The House will consider the Senate amendment to the Telework Enhancement Act, which passed the House in July. The bill addresses telecommuting, which came into focus during the blizzards in Washington, D.C. last winter and was able to limit losses in federal workers’ productivity. The bill encourages an expansion of telecommuting and the Senate amendment adds requirements on each executive agency to ensure that employees are authorized to telecommute as long as there is no loss in productivity.

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The Senate’s first cloture vote Wednesday will be on the Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act of 2010. The bill provides for expanding green-energy vehicle infrastructure and promoting electric vehicles.

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112th Congress leadership elections

Newly elected members will be in town this week for orientation sessions and will hold leadership elections for the 112th Congress. All of the positions will become official in January.

The entire House must vote to confirm leadership, though both parties will select their nominees this week. Current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to win the title of minority leader over Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC). Pelosi brokered an agreement between Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) in which Hoyer will run unopposed for minority whip while current Majority Whip Clyburn will hold the title of assistant leader. This new title will make Clyburn the third-ranking Democrat in leadership, with Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-CT) and Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) expected to retain those positions in the minority. The Democratic Caucus will hold votes on Wednesday.

On the Republican side, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) will be speaker-designate, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) will move up to majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will become majority whip, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) is expected to become conference chair. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) will face Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) for the title of Republican Study Committee chairman.

With Democrats retaining the majority and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) victorious in his reelection, no leadership changes are expected in the Senate for the 112th Congress. Democrats are expected to hold leadership votes on Tuesday with Republicans scheduled to vote later in the week.

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