May 11, 2012 Edition

In this week’s edition … Correction, Administration, Congress, Appropriations, Economy, Committee Action, Other News, For your information, Quote of the Week

Correction.  The April 27th Edition stated that the Senate Agriculture Committee postponed the mark up the 2012 farm bill, which it did but we failed to mention that the Committee approved the bill on May 3.  Click background for more on the markup and bill.

Administration.  On Tuesday, President Obama issued Congress a “to do” list, which he publicized throughout the week, including a stop in Nevada.  For more information on the list, click list or article.   On May 9, the President announced his supports gay and lesbian marriages, though he did not announce his intention to support any federal initiative to recognize the marriages, essentially leaving it to states to decide what constitutes a “marriage.”  The Washington Post has more on the announcement.

The New York Times looked at the relationship between President Obama and Vice-President Biden.  Politico looks at the Vice-President’s role in the President’s decision to announce his support for gay marriage. 

Congress.  A brief summary of the legislative action in the two chambers. 

Senate – On Tuesday, the Senate rejected a motion to proceed to the legislation regarding student loan interest rates (article) so for now, at least, the chamber will not take up the legislation.  Congressional leaders will continue to negotiate a way forward on legislation since neither side wants to see the interest rates double on July 1.  It also voted on three judicial nominations: Jacqueline Nguyen to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; Kristine Baker of Little Rock and John Z. Lee of Chicago, as federal trial court judges.  Click Nguyen, Baker or Lee for more information. 

House – The House debated the FY2013 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill for several days, eventually passing it on Thursday but the White House threatened to veto the spending bill (SAP/article).  It also passed the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (article) on Wednesday; the Senate is expected to pass the bill fairly quickly. 

On Thursday, the chamber passed the House Republican deficit-reduction package which would replace the sequestration cuts that are scheduled for January 2, 2013.  As the Hill summarized, the package “restores $72 billion of $109 billion in automatic cuts to the Pentagon and domestic budget contained in the debt-ceiling deal Congress approved last summer and replaces those cut with up to $242 billion in cuts over 10 years.  The GOP measure goes well beyond replacing the sequester and includes $315 billion in cuts to social programs like food stamps as well as to the 2010 healthcare and financial regulatory laws… It contains no cuts to defense and no tax increases.”  This article summarized the debate.  House Democrats had their own package to replace sequestration, which was split between funding cuts and tax increases, but Republicans passed a closed rule for the debate so they were not able to offer it.   

Two new ideas of how to reform Congress: one by former Senator/current Senate candidate Bob Kerrey (D-NE) and one by former ABC News anchor Charles Gibson.

Appropriations.  On Tuesday, the House Appropriations subcommittees passed the Defense appropriations bill and the Military Construction-VA spending measures (DoD article/VA article).  And the Foreign Operations Subcommittee passed its bill on Wednesday (article). 

Health Care. 

  • A House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee and the full committee passed legislation that would reauthorize Food and Drug Administration user fee.  The legislation is likely to be approved quickly by both chambers (article). 
  • The Hill reports that “Republicans might not offer a comprehensive plan to replace President Obama’s healthcare law if the Supreme Court strikes it down this summer.”
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that the United States ranks 25th worldwide on conditions for mothers. 
  • And USA Today reports that retired couples will spend roughly $240,000 on healthcare.   


  • The U.S. government may wind up posting a profit of more than $15 billion from the rescue of American International Group Inc., according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (article).
  • Reuters reports that Obama’s two nominees to the Federal Reserve appear unlikely to ever receive a vote because one Senator has put a hold on them. 
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) outlined rules it is considering that would simplify mortgage points and fees and bring greater transparency to the mortgage loan origination market. These rules, which the CFPB expects to propose this summer and finalize by January 2013, would make it easier for consumers to understand mortgage costs and compare loans so they can choose the best deal (press release).
  • According to the Washington Post, hundreds of companies are being investigated under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.

Committee Action.

  • The House Judiciary Committee held a markup of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  The House version lacks the provisions included in the Senate version that states gays, illegal immigrants and Native Americans should be protected from domestic abuse and will have to be reconciled with the Senate (although first the full House needs to pass it).  Here’s more on the House version. 
  • The House Armed Services marked up the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill (article); the full House will consider the bill next week.

Other News.

  • The House-Senate conference committee on the surface transportation reauthorization met this week.  It is off to a slow start and to some observers does not look promising.  The White House threatened to veto any conference report that includes language approving the Keystone pipeline project (SAP/article).
  • A Congressional Budget Office report found that “even if the United States increased production and became a net exporter of oil, U.S. consumers would still be exposed to gasoline prices that rose and fell in response to disruptions around the world.” 
  • The US Postal Service announced that it will not close rural post offices but rather reduce the number of hours they are open, in order to save money (article).  The USPS loses about $25 million a day and lost $3.2 billion in the second quarter (article). 
  • Politico asks what would Romney’s EPA look like?


  • Romney won the Indiana, West Virginia and North Carolina Republican presidential primaries on May 8th.  Here is the current delegate count. 
  • Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) lost his primary (article). The candidate that beat him, Richard Earl Mourdock, is strongly opposed to bipartisanship, reports the New York Times.
  • Politico writes that “House chaos may play into President Obama’s hands.”
  • The Richmond Times-Dispatch looks at the relationship of the Virginia Congressional Delegation. 

For your information.  Bloomberg reported on how much financial support for athletics comes from the university or student fees at 54 major universities. 

Quote of the Week.  Just about any sentence from this statement.


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