This Week in Washington - December 5, 2011

Expect the next few weeks to be loaded with deals on a year end spending package and expiring tax provisions.  This is the time of year when controversial items are snuck into massive spending bills, so keep your eyes on Washington, D.C.

The Senate is debating a controversial judge — Caitlin Halligan.  The House is considering a long list of items including regulatory reform.  Jon Corzine has been requested to testify before the House about his role the billion dollar bankruptcy of MF Global.

The Senate will consider five judicial nominations early this week including: Edgardo Ramos to be judge for the Southern District of New York; Andrew Carter to be judge  for the Southern District of New York; James R. Gilstrap to be judge for the Eastern District of Texas; Dana Christensen to be judge for Montana; and, Caitlin J. Halligan to be a Circuit Court  judge for the District of Columbia.  Halligan is the subject of a filibuster by Republicans concerned about her extreme record.

Halligan has drawn opposition from Family Research Council Action for appealing to “a theory of an evolving Constitution to attack the traditional understanding of marriage and the lawful activities of pro-life organizations.”  Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association oppose the nomination because of Halligan’s anti-Second Amendment views.  The Senate Republican Policy Committee argues that Halligan’s “well-documented record as a committed advocate of extreme liberal positions raises questions about whether she would be a fair and impartial jurist. These concerns are compounded by the fact that Ms. Halligan has been nominated to one of the most important courts in the United States.”  The vote is on Tuesday and will be close, because 60 votes will be necessary to pass this nomination over a Republican filibuster.

The remainder of the week in the Senate is in flux.  There will be an effort this week to marry up all nine remaining spending bills for FY 2012 into a massive spending plan.  Conservatives are expected to oppose this effort, because the bills will be budget busters and pro-life provisions may be stripped.  This bill may pass with a majority of Democrat support in the House, yet a majority of Republicans opposing.  Negotiations continue on this controversial year end spending bill, but expect the liberals to set up a scenario to blame conservatives and the Tea Party if they can’t get a deal.  It seems that the Tea Party is the favorite Straw Man for President Obama and liberal Democrats to blame when they can’t get the job done.

The House will vote on eight suspension bills on Monday including the following:  H.R. 2351, a fish stocking bill; H.R. 944, a lighthouse bill; H.R. 2360, the Providing Our Workforce and Energy Resources Act; H.R. 643, a land bill; H.R. 1560, a tribal membership bill, S. 683, a land bill; S. 535, a monument bill; and, S. Con. Res. 32, an enrollment resolution to change H.R. 470 a Hoover Dam bill. 

H.R. 2360, the POWER Act, is a bill that would forbid offshore renewable energy resources to be installed or services by foreign workers, according to Congressman Jeff Landry (R-LA).  Some free trade minded conservatives would argue this bill is protectionist.  This seems to be the only controversial bill on the Monday suspension calendar.

The remainder of the week, is reserved for House consideration of the following items: H.R. 1254, the Synthetic Drug Control Act; H.R. 2405, a pandemic and hazard bill;  H.R. 3237, an education bill, H.R. 2297, a DC waterfront bill, H.R. 313, a drug trafficking bill, H.R. 2471, a privacy bill; H.R. 1021, a bankruptcy judge bill; S.J. Res. 22, a Missouri/Illinois bond compact measure; S. 1639, an American Legion bill; S. 1541, a federal charter for Blue Star Mothers; H.R. 10, the REINS Act; and, H.R. 1633, Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act.

Jon Corzine, former CEO of MF Global and Democratic Governor of NJ, has been subpoenaed to testify before the House Agriculture Committee for this Thursday.  The Hill reports that the extensive fundraising ties Corzine has to many sitting members of Congress and President Obama puts them in a difficult position.

Jon Corzine, former CEO of MF Global, has given tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party in recent months, putting Democratic lawmakers in awkward positions ahead of Corzine’s subpoenaed appearance before a House committee next week. The House Agriculture Committee wants Corzine to explain the financial collapse of MF Global and what may have happened to clients’ investments. A former U.S. senator from New Jersey and governor of that state, Corzine is a longtime leader of the Democratic Party who served as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2004.

Are House Democrats going to defend a CEO who may have lead to one of the biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history?  A corporate meltdown clouded by allegations of illegal use of client funds?  Should be an interesting week in Washington.