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January 19, 2008

110th Congress, Second Session - House Reconvenes

Quorum Call: 393 present, 38 absent

H.Res. 913: Providing for a committee to notify the President of the assembly of the Congress.

H.Res. 914: To inform the Senate that a quorum of the House has assembled.

H.Res. 915: Providing for the hour of meeting of the House.
That unless otherwise ordered before Monday, May 12, 2008, the hour of daily meeting of the House shall be
  • 2 p.m. on Mondays;
  • noon on Tuesdays; and
  • 10 a.m. on all other days of the week; and
from Monday, May 12, 2008, for the remainder of the 110th Congress, the hour of daily meeting of the House shall be
  • noon on Mondays,
  • 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; and
  • 9 a.m. on all other days of the week.

Short Work Weeks, Light Load Mark Start of Second Session
The second session of the 110th Congress gets under way Tuesday, when the House returns to work after its holiday recess. But neither chamber is likely to get much done this month.

House Democrats Target Bolten, Miers
Democratic leaders are preparing to launch the second session of the 110th Congress this week with a partisan shot, hints of conciliation and some serious procrastination.

Why does Congress outsource its work?
Panels are doing a job that Congress can’t — or doesn’t want to — do.

Appropriations

Political Economy: Let's Not Make a Deal
It’s possible to regard the just-completed congressional appropriations cycle as representing a compromise of sorts. President Bush insisted on his bottom line for discretionary spending — that ever-shrinking pot of money that lawmakers can actually control — and the Democrats played around at the margins with the totals for programs they truly cared about, ditching a few White House favorites in the process.

Leading Earmark Critic Seeks Appropriations Seat
The House’s most vocal critic of earmarks is making a bid for a seat on the committee that distributes funding for the member projects he so often attacks.

Sparing Trees, Saving Money: The Fiscal 2009 'E-Budget'
There will be no delivery truck pulling up to the White House next month to unload freshly printed copies of President Bush’s fiscal 2009 budget proposal, which is likely to total more than 2,000 pages.

Lawmakers Want Quick Action on Improving Infrastructure
The chairman and ranking Republican of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee agreed Thursday that Congress shouldn’t wait until it has to reauthorize a highway bill in 2009 to begin improving the nation’s infrastructure.

Democrats Consider Use of Reconciliation, Adoption of Early CR for FY 2009
After finishing the FY 2008 budget 80 days late, Democrats are reportedly considering the use of two strategies for the FY 2009 budget process.
  1. First, the Democrats may try and use reconciliation more, even for increasing direct spending, which negatively impacts the federal budget. In last year’s budget resolution, the majority broke with precedent to include reconciliation instructions for the Education and Workforce Committee to save $750 million, a far lower figure than previous efforts at budget reconciliation. The real purpose of this legislation was not to save money, but instead to create new entitlements. The advantage reconciliation offers Democrats is that it makes it possible to pass legislation with the support of only 51 Senators instead of 60 (to reach the 3/5 cloture requirement). For this reason, Democrats are looking at the possibility of including much more extensive reconciliation instructions in the FY 2009 budget resolution.
  2. Second, Congressional Democrats may try to enact a CR very early in the FY 2009 appropriations process, the purpose of which would be to carry the fight over spending levels into the next administration. In the FY 2008 budget process, Democrats fought to spend $23 billion more than President Bush’s request. Although the President’s FY 2009 budget has yet to be released, Congressional leaders are once again anticipating that their budget will propose a higher overall level of spending. The Democrats are considering passing a CR, as early as this spring or summer, that would cover the period from October 1, 2008 through the beginning of the next administration—in the hopes that their higher level of spending might be approved by the next administration.

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