This Week in Washington - October 17, 2011

The Senate is in session this week working on a package of appropriations bills called the “Minibus.”  The House is out this week, but will be meeting in pro forma session to block the Obama Administration from making recess appointments.  No Child Left Behind is starting to wind through the committee process in the Senate.


The Senate is scheduled to take up H.R. 2112, legislation to carry appropriations for the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) and Transportation/HUD appropriations bills (THUD).  The Agriculture appropriations bill passed the House on a 217-203 vote on June 16, 2011 and is being used by the Senate to carry two other appropriations bills CJS and THUD back to the House.

This is called a “Minibus,” because the package will combine different appropriations bills together into one.  The Senate will spend the week working through amendments to these appropriations bills before they break for a week this Friday. Expect conservatives to force multiple votes to cut some of the fat out of the federal budget.

The Senate will conduct a vote on Cathy Bissoon to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  Nominations have come back into focus as a result of a vote last week on liberal activist Alison Nathan to be U.S District Judge for the Southern District of New York.  Nathan’s nomination squeaked by on a 48-44 vote.  Conservatives need to keep a close eye on these votes.

A nomination that is expected to be a big fight in the Senate is the nomination of Richard Cordray to be the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  Conservatives are blocking that nomination because they fear the expansive powers of the CFPB will be a job killer and will further slow a future economic recovery.


On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) will markup a bill to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.  The Senate Finance Committee will have a hearing on tax reform options.  Embattled Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner will testify before the Senate Small Business Committee on the a small business law that passed Congress last year and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Senate will recess for a week starting on Friday, as the House comes back into session next week.


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