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Friday, September 5, 2008

Senate - Gridlock or Change?

It's time for the Senate to get back to work. Will they see an opportunity to accomplish some things, or will they permit the legislative branch to be a political wedge to affect the election?

From Politico, September 4...

Senate Dems to force equal pay vote on McCain

Democrats have hammered Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) this summer over his vote against legislation pushing equal pay for women and men. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will get a second act in September, as Democrats seek to remind voters that McCain opposed it, according to an e-mail from the Democratic Senate message center. It lists "[e]qual pay legislation" as among the issues the Senate will take up in September.

We hope this message finds you enjoying the last days of the August recess. When the Senate goes back into session next week, we begin a busy work period with much legislative business to complete before the November elections. Below is a summary of what Sen. Reid plans to work on during this period; as always, this summary is subject to change. Defense Authorization. On Monday there will be a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the defense authorization bill, S. 3001. The Senate convenes at 3:00pm on Monday and the cloture vote is scheduled for 5:50pm. You will recall that Senate Republicans blocked proceeding to the defense authorization bill before the August break – cloture was rejected by a vote of 51-39 on July 31. Energy. The Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act, S. 3268, is the pending business before the Senate. If cloture is not invoked on the motion to proceed to the defense authorization bill, the Senate could resume debate of this measure. Sen. Reid has scheduled an energy summit involving senators from both parties to take place on Friday, September 12. The goal is to discuss bipartisan solutions to the country’s energy crisis. Additionally, the “Gang of 16” has indicated that it is drafting legislation to address supply, conservation, alternatives and taxes. Sen. Bingaman, chairman of the energy committee, also is drafting legislation on the same subjects. No decisions have been made, but either of these measures or others could be considered as amendments to, or in lieu of, the pending speculation bill. We understand that the House may consider energy legislation next week as well. Economic Stimulus. The House is expected to assemble a second economic stimulus bill for consideration in September. Sen. Reid also plans to bring up a stimulus bill for debate this month, though details are still being worked out. Tax Extenders. Sen. Reid will continue to use every means necessary to pass a tax-extenders bill. Senate Republicans blocked cloture on motions to proceed to both S. 3335 and H.R. 6049 before the break, but Sen. Reid and Sen. Baucus remain committed to re-extending incentives that will spur investment in the renewable-energy sector, among other important policies. Appropriations bills. Defense, military construction, homeland security, foreign operations and other appropriations bills also remain on the to-do list. Continuing Resolution to fund government. Sen. Reid expects to have the Senate consider a continuing resolution to ensure continued operations of the government into next year. This measure will include funding for any agencies not otherwise funded through the regular appropriations process. Additionally, there is other unfinished business that Sen. Reid will work to consider: * Equal pay legislation * Advancing America’s Priorities Act, S. 3297 (the Coburn bill); * Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act, S. 3186 (the LIHEAP bill); * Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration Act; and * Media Shield

The House’s targeted adjournment date remains September 26. This date also remains the goal for Sen. Reid, but observers might reasonably conclude that finishing the above legislative business before September 26 will be difficult and will require significant cooperation from Senate Republicans


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