- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 17, 2008

DEBATES, VOTES TO WATCH

HOUSE

Democratic and Republican leaders, after months of closed-door meetings, are close to reaching a compromise on a plan to overhaul the nation’s wiretapping laws, sources say.

Details of the long-awaited deal, which would update the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), have not been released. But Democratic House leaders may bring a FISA bill to the floor this week, according to senior House staffers.

A temporary expansion of FISA laws, which allowed the government to spy on certain individuals without a warrant, expired in February after congressional party leaders failed on several attempts to pass a new deal.



The key sticking point has been a Republican demand to give telecommunications companies legal immunity for their participation in a domestic surveillance program the Bush administration authorized shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The secret program circumvented a court that oversees such activities.

The chamber also this week may make take up a military spending package that would pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring as well as provide for a significant expansion of college aid for war veterans.

The “war supplemental” measure is expected to well exceed $200 billion. The package may include more than $10 billion for domestic spending for items such as aid to states affected by Hurricane Katrina. Democratic leaders also may include an expansion of unemployment benefits in the bill.

Similar measures already have passed the Senate and House. President Bush has threatened to veto the package, saying he prefers a “clean” war supplemental bill without the extra spending proposals.

SENATE

Debate on the biggest tax bill of the year will begin Tuesday, but Republicans are expected to block the Democratic-crafted measure, which would offset the extension of some expiring tax breaks with what Republicans say would be tax increases on certain individuals and companies.

The bill calls for extending or renewing several tax incentive programs, including renewable energy incentives, research and development credits and a boost to the child tax credit.

The tax extensions would be offset in part by closing loopholes of offshore income of hedge fund managers and other wealthy investors and delaying a tax break for multinational corporations.

Democrats say the offsets would protect taxpayers from being forced to pay more interest on the national debt. Republicans, who say they oppose raising taxes to help pay for the tax breaks, last week blocked an attempt by Democrats to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

COMMITTEE HEARINGS TO WATCH

HOUSE

cThe Judiciary Committee hears testimony at 2 p.m. Tuesday on ensuring legal redress for American victims of state-sponsored terrorism. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141.

cThe Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee hears testimony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on legislative proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2123.

cThe Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday on the state of the thoroughbred racing industry. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2322.

cThe Judiciary Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Friday on revelations by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan regarding accusations the White House leaked the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141.

SENATE

cThe Armed Services Committee hears testimony at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday on aggressive interrogation techniques of detainees in U.S. custody. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 106.

cThe Finance Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the future of the U.S. economy, focusing on long-term deficits and debt. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 215.

cThe Judiciary Committee hears testimony at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday on how to respond to the growing need for additional federal judges. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226.

JOINT

cThe Joint Economic Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday on U.S. drug policy. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 106.

EVENTS AROUND WASHINGTON

The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition at 10 a.m. Tuesday will release a report on the economic benefits of nuclear power. National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW. Call 202/662-7500.

Source: The Washington Times

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