This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington – Courtesy of the Office of the Republican Whip
September 30, 2009
The House returned Tuesday evening for a short week of votes. The Senate Finance Committee is continuing their markup of the Democratic Health Care overhaul as they take up more than 500 amendments. The markup started last week and the rumors have it that they hope to complete it as early as Thursday. This sets the stage for the bill to be on the Senate floor possibly towards the end of next week.

The House still appears to be in a holding pattern until the Senate figures out a firmer timeline. In the meantime, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to garner enough votes to pass the legislation. It does not appear to be a successful effort at this point as progressives and Blue Dog Democrats continue to argue about whether or not the plan should include a government-run health care option. Republicans continue to oppose the government takeover of health care. As a side note, the public option was defeated in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 8-15.

Public support for the President's health care plan is at an all time low this week as a new Rasmussen poll reports that just 41% of voters nationwide support the plan. The survey also finds that 56% are opposed. You can view the poll here. Much more on current developments regarding the health care debate here.

In other news, the mainstream media finally picked up on the ACORN scandal, but it sure did take a while. And you know things are bad for the left when Jon Stewart actually sides with Republicans. As the scandal continues, House Republicans scored a victory last week when they forced a vote to cut all ties between ACORN and the Federal Government. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) offered H.R. 3571, the Defund ACORN Act, as the Motion to Recommit on H.R. 3221 - the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009. The MTR passed 345-75. See here for more information on the ACORN scandal and the vote.

As far as National Security goes, it’s been a rough couple weeks for the President. After the President essentially scrapped the Missile Defense program last week, Iran quickly followed the news by launching test missiles and appears to be closer to having a nuclear weapon than earlier thought. And then there is Afghanistan. As the situation there continues to disintegrate, the President is between a rock and a hard place of whether he listens to the Generals on the ground, or the hard left who are pressuring him to develop an exit strategy. See Items of Interest below for more information.

On energy, the Environment and Public Works Committee unveiled their climate change legislation Tuesday. Introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA), the 801 page bill aims for a 20 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020, which is greater than the House version of 17 percent. The bill is still being analyzed, so I will have more info for you next week.

Finally, in an effort to shine a public light on legislation and allow members to actually read the bills being passed, Reps. John Culberson (R-TX) and Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced bipartisan legislation, HRes 554, which would prohibit the House from considering any measure that has not been publicly available via the Internet for 72 hours. Last week, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) filed a discharge petition to force a floor vote on the Culberson-Baird resolution. To date, the petition has garnered 178 signatures – including five rank-and-file Democrats – 40 short of the 218 needed to secure a vote on the floor. More on this legislation here and you can see the Dear Colleague letter that went out here.


Legislation to be Voted On:

1. S. 1707 - Authorizing appropriations for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to promote an enhanced strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people – S. 1707 is a multi-year aid package for Pakistan which passed the Senate by voice vote last Thursday. The bill would authorize $1.5 billion annually for five years in non-military assistance, which triples the current level. The bill calls for the Administration to produce a comprehensive regional strategy report for Pakistan. In sum, compared to the previous House bill to aid Pakistan, this legislation provides substantially greater flexibility to the Executive Branch and U.S. commanders in the field. The House is slated to consider this bill on Wednesday under suspension of the rules (requires 2/3 of the vote to pass).

2. Conference Report on H.R. 3183 - Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 – The Conference report totals over $33.465 billion for the fiscal year 2010, which is $928 million below the President's budget request, and $55 million above the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2009, excluding emergency appropriations.

3. H.R. 2442 - Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act – This bill, sponsored by Rep. George Miller and cosponsored by 8 other Bay area Democrats, would make six additional Bay area water projects eligible for federal funding at a time when 40,000 people don’t have jobs in the San Joaquin Valley due to a lack of water.

The Federal government’s decision to protect the delta smelt, a 2-inch bait fish, required blocking the water flow through the San Joaquin Valley. This area of California was rich in farming land until water was cut off. Now, some towns in the San Joaquin Valley have unemployment as high as 40%.

H.R. 2442 is scheduled to be considered on the floor under suspension this afternoon. It has been postponed thus far due to the vigorous Republican opposition to the bill led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Items of Interest:

1. Obama Scraps Missile Defense – Last Thursday, President Obama made what is widely perceived as a misguided decision to jettison U.S. plans to build a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, abandoning our commitments to those important European allies and weakening our own national defense. For more reaction to this move and how it can impact our national security and bolster Iran, please see here.

2. Wilson Research Strategies released a National Health Care Study regarding Americans attitudes on health care reform. You can view the study here.

3. Weekly Waste Watch – Please check out the latest Weekly Waste Watch from the Republican Whip website.

4. Buyer Beware – Alex Bratty of Public Opinion Strategies has a new blog post highlighting independents scampering away from the President at an amazing clip. See the blog post here.

Articles of the Week:

1. Politico - Reassembling Humpty Dumpty – by Newt Gingrich & David Merritt – September 17, 2009 – If health care reform had a name, it would be Humpty Dumpty. After all, President Barack Obama tried to put him back together again in his speech to Congress last week. On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) did the same when he introduces his long-awaited plan. The problem is that Humpty Dumpty didn’t just fall off the wall – he was shoved off by the American people. Read the full article here.

2. Politico - Cantor: Pelosi 'In Another World' – by Glenn Thrush - September 23, 2009 -House Minority Whip Eric Cantor thinks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “is in another world” if she believes raucous anti-health-reform demonstrations could lead to violence — and he says he hasn’t personally witnessed racist comments during a summer of passionate town hall demonstrations. Read the full article here.