Around the State
This week the House of Representatives intends to continue efforts to address rising gas prices by improving domestic production. After passing a bill last week that requires the administration to conduct offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the shores of Virginia, the bill, HR 1230, now goes to the Senate. Most Hill watchers believe the bill will not see the light of day due to the Democratic control of the Senate, even given the fact that the bill passed by a vote of 266-149. That vote includes the support of 33 House Democrats.
It is with this bipartisan support that the speaker will ask the House to consider two more energy-related bills this week: HR 1229 which lifts the moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico by setting time-lines for permits to drill, and HR 1231 which lifts the Gulf moratorium and begins a 2012 through 2017 lease plan, setting a production goal of 3 million barrels of oil per day by 2027. Expect bipartisan support for both of these bills when the House votes on passage later this week.
As mentioned in last week’s Washington Week, the House speaker wants the House to get back to regular order, which means having the Congress authorize programs before spending the taxpayers’ money funding the programs. This will be put to the test this week when the House considers the Intelligence authorization bill. The Congress has failed to pass an Intelligence authorization for the last four years and thus the agency has been operating on a four-year piecemeal extension. The speaker believes it is time to stop politicizing the agencies and departments of our government that seek to protect and keep Americans safe. This writer is guessing that the successful raid and killing of Osama bin Laden by our intelligence and military community this past week might just help make the point of Rep. John Boehner, D-Ohio, that these agencies need to be above political gamesmanship.
Over on the Senate side of the Capitol, many believe that they might begin serious discussion in the Senate Budget Committee on the Senate budget resolution. While the budget resolution is not signed by the president and simply serves as a blueprint for Congress to follow, many believe the debate in committee and potentially on the Senate floor later in the month of May could serve to air-out some of the sticking points that divide the Senate and House GOP with congressional Democrats and the president.
Also, on Monday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m., Congressman Dean Heller from Nevada will be sworn-in as senator-designee to fill in the remainder of the term for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who resigned last week amid a Senate ethics committee investigation.
Finally, behind-the-scenes negotiations will continue to set up a path whereby the Senate can conduct a vote on the House budget resolution which passed the House before the Easter recess, and the president’s budget. The results of these votes will add to the discussions that are ongoing as they pertain to the summer vote in Congress to increase the public debt.
Elizabeth B. Letchworth is a retired, elected United States Senate secretary for the majority and minority. Currently she is a senior legislative adviser for Covington & Burling, LLC and is the founder of Gradegov.com.