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This Week in Washington: The Calm Before The Election Storm


Congress is winding down this week in anticipation of the November 7th elections.  This is supposed to be the last opportunity for Congress to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funding for six months before the current funding resolution expires on October 1st.

This is a short week for both the House and Senate, with the Rosh Hashanah holiday pushing the first votes to Wednesday. Don’t expect much to get done before the Congress rubber stamps the CR in an effort to bail out of the Capitol to protect incumbents of both parties by the end of this week.

Congress is scheduled to come back after the elections, but The Hill reports a few House conservatives have said lawmakers should not come back to Washington after the November elections. Conservatives worry about the long list of issues to be tackled in lame-duck session after the elections.

“With the House and Senate likely to close up the pre-election shop next week, action on expiring tax rates and subsidies, looming spending cuts, Medicare reimbursement rates and a cash-strapped Postal Service must wait until an abbreviated post-election session in November and December.”

The piece quotes Reps. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Jeff Landry (R-Louisiana) as urging Congress to not convene post election to avoid unelected officials making important spending decisions that will impact taxpayers for years to come.

This short week, the Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of “Veterans Jobs Corps Act,” S. 3457 on Wednesday.  There is a vote scheduled on a point of order against an amendment to the bill. Also on Wednesday, the Senate will vote to a motion to proceed to H.J. Res. 117, the CR for Fiscal Year 2013.  The CR passed the House last week on a 329-91 vote and the Senate anticipates being done with this legislation by the end of Thursday or early Friday.

This CR does not have support in the conservative movement. The CR increases spending by .6 % and fully funds ObamaCare. The Conservative Action Project (CAP) has put out an alert to conservative leaders in the House and Senate that the “the original discussion of a ‘clean’ six months CR at the $1.047 trillion level has been increased by approximately $106 billion!  In addition to this massive spending increase, the CR now includes language that appears to grant the Obama Administration authority to implement its recent Executive Order on cybersecurity. The CR also includes an extension of TANF that is silent on the Administration’s recent effort to weaken the Welfare to Work requirement.”  They are not the only ones.

The Club for Growth argues that “this CR is bad policy simply because it extends big spending programs, layers on extra spending, and provides only short-term funding for the government so that politicians can leave Washington to avoid politically sensitive events. Even if it were a clean extension, this CR would still fully fund ObamaCare, along with a long list of other programs that fiscal conservatives oppose. Second, while technically legal, it breaks the already high $1.047 trillion spending cap established by the Budget Control Act because disaster relief included in the resolution is not offset. Third, it quietly affirms President Obama's desire to gut welfare reform's work requirements.”  It will be interesting to see the Senators who end up opposing the CR because of bad policy and over spending.

The House has scheduled twenty seven votes on the suspension calendar for Wednesday. Votes scheduled including (and this is a summary of the pending votes) H.R. 6324, a bill to cut the number of non-essential leased cars by the federal government, H.R. 3099a bill to allow taxpayers to voluntarily donate money to pay down the debt (a version of the so called “Buffet Rule”), H.R. 5912, a bill to change law to prohibit public funds to go to political party conventions, H.R. 3783, a  bill to require Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to report to congress on “the threats posed to the United States by Iran’s growing presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere,” and an unnumbered House resolution, H.Res. __, to honor the diplomatic public servants who died in Libya.

The House has also scheduled a debate and vote on Rep. Lamar Smith’s “STEM Jobs Act,” to eliminate the diversity immigrant program and replace it with higher levels of immigration in another category to promote “innovation, investment and research.”  Another vote is scheduled on H.J. Res 118, a resolution of disapproval for to undo President Obama’s waiver of work requirements for welfare.  There is also a vote scheduled on H.R. 3409, a bill relating to the coal industry.

Conservatives would love to see Congress get out of the Capitol soon, because they seem to have a strong incentive to spend more and more of your money the longer they are in session. The big worry should be for the upcoming agenda in a lame-duck session after the elections.


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