The House Cloakroom by Dan Ziegler


The House will be busy next week trying to wrap up business for the year before going on break. The main piece of legislation on their plate will be finishing up the last appropriations spending bill, which will be used to tack on so called “job creating measures” like unemployment benefits, food stamp programs, and COBRA health insurance subsidies. Make sure to watch Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) speech at Heritage last week where he laid out his “No Cost Stimulus” plan. Also likely to be a controversy next week will be a $1.8 trillion increase to the debt limit attached to the same Defense Appropriations spending bill. Lastly expect a bill to impose sanctions on companies who supply Iran with gas or support their efforts for domestic production.

Major Floor Action:

· Defense Appropriations spending bill with a Christmas tree full of extra tag on bills like extensions of unemployment benefits, food stamp programs, and COBRA health insurance subsidies, as well as a $1.8 trillion increase in the debt limit. An extension of the Patriot Act could also be included.

· H.R. 2194 Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009

Major Committee Action:

· Heritage Analyst Sally McNamara will testify on Tuesday afternoon in front of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe concerning “The Lisbon Treaty: Implications for Future Relations Between the European Union and the United States.” See her research on this subject here.

· Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton of the State Department will continue their rounds of hearings on Afghanistan on Tuesday at a joint hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

The Senate Cloakroom by Dan Holler


Last week, the Senate found itself in a holding pattern on health care and it figures to start the week much the same way as it awaits the Congressional Budget Office score of the latest “major breakthrough.” Insiders suggest that once Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) receives an “acceptable” score from CBO, he will quickly move to end debate.

Major Floor Action:

· Action continues on the health care bill. Many major issues remain unresolved, including the exact details of the “Reid Compromise,” the constitutionality of the individual mandate, drug importation, rising premiums, impact on small business hiring, states dropping Medicaid coverage, and immigration.
·Also lurking in the background is a Defense Appropriations measure which is likely to carry an extension of unemployment insurance, highway funding, Patriot Act provisions, a $1.8 trillion increase in the debt limit and potentially an increase in next year’s death tax.

Major Committee Actions:

· The Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on reducing the cost of nuclear reactors.
· A Judiciary subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The Law of the Land: U.S. Implementation of Human Rights Treaties.
· The Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will vote on the nomination of Ben Bernanke to serve a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.