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Washington Week

May 16, 2010 - 6:00pm

The U.S. Senate hopes to conclude the month-long debate on the financial reform bill by week's end, even if the majority leader needs to force a procedural vote promoting a 60-vote threshold to bring debate to a close. This will not only limit the number of hours remaining for debate to 30 hours, but also keeps the remaining amendments germane and on subject.

Amendments being debated of late have mostly leaned along the lines of a populist theme. They have ranged from controlling credit card rates to boarder security. Votes expected early in the week include an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall, (D-CO) ( that requires thethree major credit-reporting bureaus to provide a free credit score when customers sign up to obtain their credit report.

Another amendment expected to receive a vote early in the week is one from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) that requires the Obama administration to certify that the IMF loan to Greece will be repaid.

The House will finish the COMPETES act, which increases the money spent by our government agencies in the science field. They will then consider what is commonly referred to as the "extenders bill". This bill extends tax breaks to companies that spend for research and development, to teachers and other individuals as well as continued aid to states. It also will extend unemployment benefits and delay the cut in physicians' payments for those who take Medicare patients. The price tag is upwards of close to $200 billion,and much of the bill is not paid for by off-setting means. This will be a tough order to fill for Speaker Pelosi and her team when it comes to the many House members now insisting that bills be paid for after the passage of the Health Care bill this spring.

The House will also host a joint session of Congress on Thursday to hear an address by Mexico's President Calderon. His presence and remarks are likely to reignite the debates about immigration reform of border security.

Much needs to be done in both the House and Senate before the congressional recess begins next Friday, May 28. With that in mind,four states will also conclude their primaries this week, and those results could further inflame the members of Congress who are up for reelection, assuming some upsets occur. These primary results could make the long list of legislative items needing congressional approval almost unattainable.

Stay tuned.

Elizabeth B. Letchworth is a retired, four-times-elected United States Senate secretary for the Majority and Minority. She is the founder of (link:

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