House Plans Busy 10 Weeks
House Democratic leaders plan a full schedule as the final months of the first session of the 110th Congress wind down, while the chamber awaits Senate action on annual spending legislation.
According to one source, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outlined a 10-week work period leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday at a Democratic Caucus meeting earlier this month, and several Democrats confirmed that anticipations are for the session to wrap up in mid-November.
“We have a laundry list of things that committees would like to see passed out of the House and aren’t necessarily things we think will be acted on by the Senate this year,” acknowledged a leadership aide, who asked not to be identified. “There’s certainly work to keep us busy.”
“That being said, that doesn’t mean we’ll be here until Christmas passing out smaller bills that the committees have produced,” the aide added, stating that leadership is cognizant that Members will want to return to their districts before the end of the year.
As the House awaits Senate action on a significant portion of the agenda, including nine of the 12 fiscal 2008 appropriations bills, Democratic leaders expect to move remaining big-ticket items including an energy measure focused on global warming, renewal of the No Child Left Behind education bill and the Head Start program, as well as reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Other possibilities include a wide-ranging tax package that would provide relief from the alternative minimum tax.
In addition, the chambers must still negotiate an energy package passed by the House in late August, as well as an expansion of children’s health insurance.
More immediately, the House will continue its ongoing debate over the Iraq War when it debates the supplemental spending bill, and the Democratic leadership is expected to decide this week what related measures — such as a proposal to increase time between troop deployments — it will take up in an ongoing effort to wind down U.S. involvement.
Without the fiscal 2008 appropriations bills completed, the House must also complete a continuing resolution before Sept. 30. Several Democratic sources said that measure likely will be written to support government operations for at least four weeks, and possibly into mid-November. The White House has vowed to veto numerous spending bills, setting up a potential showdown with Congress before the measures are signed into law.
“We’re building on the success of the first seven months. Critical pieces of legislation remain including energy independence [and] health care for children,” said a second Democratic aide, who also requested anonymity. “They require a lot of negotiations and behind-the-scenes work, but they’ll be major victories when they go to the president for his signature.”
While the Senate has scheduled an early October recess week following Columbus Day, the House has yet to follow suit, although Democratic leaders have not ruled out the possibility.