Around the State
This week the Senate will be debating the second of the 12 appropriations bills that together make up the full funding of our federal government.
This is the same appropriations process that caused the latest “shutdown of government” threat about a month ago. If you remember, lawmakers made a deal to extend the full funding of the 12 bills through Nov. 18. This was after we heard all-too-familiar idle threats from our president when he warned that once again Social Security checks might not get mailed out if the government runs out of money.
The Senate will begin consideration of the Agriculture appropriations bill. The first order of business will be a move to “marry” the Agriculture bill with the Transportation/HUD appropriations bill and the Commerce, Justice and State appropriations bill.
This complements the desire of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to end the congressional practice of passing omnibus appropriations bills that simply “marry” all 12 bills into one large (omnibus) spending bill. This new way of coupling a few bills together is called a “minibus” and only marries three or four of the 12 bills together. I guess this new process means that those of us who pine for Congress to get back to regular order and pass the 12 bills individually, in both chambers, after full committee hearings and mark-ups, are making some progress … really?
Anyway, the Senate will be debating these three appropriations bills as one bill all week long. Expect more votes on versions of the president’s stimulus/jobs bill this week as GOP members are expected to offer it in whole or in pieces to the pending appropriations bill.
Last week, the Senate attempted to begin consideration of the president’s $447 billion jobs/stimulus bill. That effort failed by a vote of 50-49. This was a procedural vote that needed 60 senators to vote yes to agree to begin the debate on the president’s stimulus bill. Senators may also see a vote on the newly unveiled GOP jobs bill which was introduced in the Senate late last week.
Expect several votes in the Senate this week on dueling jobs bills as the Senate debates its first “minibus” of this fiscal year!
Meanwhile, the House will be in recess for the week. Hopefully members of the House will be spending quality time at home in their districts hearing from their constituents about the dreadful jobs situation. We can all hope that members of the House are considering and constructing legislative ways to solve the unemployment problem that is becoming a cancer within our country.
Finally, while the Senate debates various jobs proposals and the House members are at home working with their constituents, the president is on a three-day bus tour campaigning across the country.
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.