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Week in Congress: January 26 – 30, 2009

The economic recovery and reinvestment package and equal pay will dominate House debate, while the Senate will work to pass SCHIP this week.

Tourists walk by the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, DC. ((AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais))
Tourists walk by the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, DC. ((AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais))

Economic recovery

On Wednesday, the House will debate the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an economic stimulus measure that provides $550 billion in targeted spending and $275 billion in business and individual tax cuts.

The Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees will mark up their versions of the economic recovery bill on Tuesday.

Read more from CAP on recovery and reinvestment:

Health care

The Senate will debate H.R. 2, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. As passed by the Senate Finance Committee, the measure will reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, for four and a half years at a cost of $31.5 billion, expanding the number of children covered by the program by 4 million. The committee’s version also includes language from the Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act, which eliminates the current five-year waiting period before legal immigrant children can receive medical care under SCHIP or Medicaid.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a pair of health care-related hearings this week: "Access to Prevention and Public Health for High Risk Populations” on Tuesday and "Crossing the Quality Chasm in Health Reform" on Thursday. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday focusing on "Health IT: Protecting American’s Privacy in the Digital Age."

More on SCHIP and health IT:

Equal pay

This week, the House will again consider the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, following last Thursday’s Senate passage of S. 181. The House is expected to pass the bill without amendment, clearing it for President Obama’s signature. The Ledbetter bill corrects a 2007 ruling by the Supreme Court that made it harder for victims of pay discrimination to bring a suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. As passed by the Senate, the bill does not include provisions from H.R. 12, the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Read more about equal pay:

Energy and environment

The recovery package provides $9 billion for mass transit upgrades and new construction, $4.5 billion for developing “smart grid” electrical transmission, and $2.5 billion for retrofitting public housing with energy efficient features. The tax portion of the package includes $20 billion in incentives for developing renewable and alternative energy sources.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday entitled, "Addressing Global Climate Change: The Road to Copenhagen." Former Vice President Al Gore will testify.

More on a green economic recovery and reinvestment plan: