- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Debates, votes to watch

House

The House is expected to take up issues relating to energy, and military spending and workers rights this week before leaving town for a five-week recess.

Democratic leaders say they plan to introduce a bill designed to curb excessive speculation in the oil futures market, which some financial experts have blamed for contributing to the recent skyrocketing gasoline prices, possibly by as much as 50 percent. The House overwhelmingly approved a similar measure last month. But a Senate version died Friday after it failed a procedural vote that would have moved the measure forward.

The House on Wednesday or Thursday is expected to take up a spending bill for military construction projects. Because the measure may be the only major appropriations bill the chamber takes up this year, lawmakers are expected to pack it with pet spending projects for their districts. The bill faces significant opposition from some Republicans, who say the measure is packed with Democratic pork.

The chamber also may vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which addresses pay disparities by gender and would eliminate caps on punitive and compensatory damages in actions brought under the Equal Pay Act.

Senate

The Senate this week may take up a bill that would extend several expiring or expired tax breaks, including the research and development tax credit, the federal deduction for the sales tax, and renewable energy incentives. It also would provide temporary relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was intended for only the wealthiest taxpayers but would hit millions of middle-class taxpayers without congressional action.

It’s uncertain if the bill has enough Republican support to pass. And if it does clear the Senate the bill faces obstacles in the House, where Democrats have said they won’t consider it unless the tax breaks are offset with spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere in the budget.

Committee hearings to watch

House

  • The Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee hears testimony regarding the political situation in Lebanon at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172.
  • The Armed Services Committee hears testimony on the Supreme Court’s recent court decision regarding detainee rights at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility at 10 a.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. Thursday. Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118.
  • The Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Subcommittee hears testimony on food safety in the wake of the recent salmonella outbreak at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Rayburn House Office Building, room 2362-A.
  • The Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee hears testimony on foreign aid and the fight against terrorism at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Rayburn House Office Building, room 2200.
  • The Budget Committee hears testimony regarding rising food prices at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Cannon House Office Building, room 210.
  • Senate

  • The Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hears testimony on the state of the insurance industry at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 538.
  • The Finance Committee hears testimony on the future of U.S. trade policy at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 215
  • The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hears testimony on consumer protection in the prepaid calling card market at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Russell Senate Office Building, room 253.
  • The Armed Services Committee hears testimony on North Korean six-party talks at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Russell Senate Office Building, room 325.
  • The Foreign Relations Committee hears testimony on the military’s role in foreign policy at 2 p.m. Thursday. Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419.
  • EVENTS ACROSS WASHINGTON

  • A discussion entitled “Congressional Chaos: Failure in Oversight of Homeland Security,” will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., Washington. Call (202) 546-4400.
  • The Washington Times

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