This Week in Washington - October 31, 2011

This week, conservatives need to monitor the details of any appropriations measure to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year that ends in October of 2012.  Also, conservatives need to keep a close eye on the Senate to monitor progress by liberals to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The House and Senate are expected to convene a conference committee on a “Minibus” appropriations bill later this week.  A Senate Committee is going to vote on repealing a law that defends traditional marriage. The Super Committee is moving toward the Thanksgiving deadline to report a package of debt reductions and tax increases may be on the table.

The Senate will have a vote this eventing on the nomination of Stephen Higginson of Louisiana to be a justice on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.  On Tuesday, the Senate will continue work on H.R. 2112, the Ag, CJS and THUD appropriations measures also known as the MiniBus appropriations bill.  Seven votes are expected on Tuesday on a Sen. Coburn Amendment (SA 800 – Rural Development Agency), Sen. Paul (SA 821 – elimination of small community air service development funding), Sen. DeMint (SA 763 – epinephrine), Sen. Crapo (SA 814 – Dodd-Frank WSR derivatives), Sen. Mike Lee (Motion to Recommit to cut spending to FY 2011 levels), and passage of the MiniBus as amended.  This measure is then expected to go to a Senate-House conference committee.

The Senate committees will have some hearings of interest to conservatives this week.  The Washington Times reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee is planning a vote on legisaltion to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.  It is unclear whether the Committee will schedule the vote this week or later in the year, but a vote is expected soon. 

On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security Committee will have a hearing titled “Ten Years after 9/11:  The Next Wave in Aviation Security.”   John Pistole, the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is testifying and this would be a great opportunity to brag on the Federal Flight Deck Officers’ Program (FFDO).  The FFDO, commonly referred to as the armed pilots program, was put in place in the fall of 2002 to deputize and arm pilots against aviation terrorism.  The program is a success and has provided a strong deterrent to terrorists.  With all the controversy over the TSA screening procedures, there is one program that the TSA should promote.

The House has a full schedule this week.  On Tuesday, the House will consider three suspension votes including:  H.R. 1002  – ( Wireless Tax Fairness Act), H.Con.Res 13 (a resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States), and S. 1280 (Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act).  Four suspension votes are schedule for Wednesday, H.R. 2061 (Civilian Service Recognition Act), H.R.1070 (Small Company Capital Formation Act), H.R. 1965 (a bill that amends securities law), S. 894 (Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act).  Votes are expected later in the week on bills sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarty, the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act H.R. 2940, and Rep. Patrick McHenry, the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act H.R. 2930.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is working on subpoenas for” internal white House communications relating to the Solyndra loan guarantee.” This will be an opportunity for the White House to come clean about efforts to funnel federal loan guarantees to favored green energy companies.

The Super Committee will continue work on a deficit reduction package containing $1.2 – $1.5 trillion in reductions.  Conservatives worry that Republicans will agree to raise taxes as part of this package.

I wrote in Human Events this week that liberal activists are taking a run at the Native Hawaiian bill again as part of the MiniBus appropriations measure.

The Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft of its appropriations bill for the Interior Department earlier this month.  Section 420 contains a provision allowing the secretary of the Interior Department to recognize “Native Hawaiians” as a federally recognized Indian tribe.  This is a version of the “Akaka Bill,” and an effort to create a race-based government for individuals classified as native Hawaiians.  This is a radical measure that would force even more separation on the American people into different ethnic groups.  This is also a measure that many native Hawaiians oppose, because they feel that the people claiming to represent their interests are enriching themselves at the expense of the true interests of those of Hawaiian heritage as wells as traditional fishing rights.

Conservatives have much to worry about this week.

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