Debates, Votes to Watch

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 8, 2008 | Go to article overview

Debates, Votes to Watch


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Debates, votes to watch

Senate

The chamber Tuesday continues debate on a $300 billion bill to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and to tighten lending regulations. The popular measure - which stalled before the weeklong Fourth of July recess amid clashes over adding energy tax breaks to the bill - must survive a procedural vote to advance toward final passage.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, also will try this week to break a stalemate over a Medicare bill that would restore planned cuts to physician reimbursements.

The administration, which delayed the July 1 payment cuts because of the ongoing debate in Congress, says the change will help fight Medicare fraud and abuse. Democrats and Republicans agree the cuts likely will prompt doctors to drop Medicare patients, but they can't agree on how to pay for reversing it.

The housing bill aims to address the housing market crisis with a $300 expansion of the Federal Housing Administration's refinancing program for homeowners facing foreclosure and with a regulatory overhaul of the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac).

The impasse over the energy amendment persists.

The amendment by Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, would extend about $8.2 billion in tax credits for renewable alternative energies such as solar, wind and geothermal. It also enjoys bipartisan support, but Mr. Reid says it is not related to housing and does not belong in the bill.

House

The House passed most of the major bills on the calendar for this year and is awaiting Senate action on the housing bill, the Medicare bill and an update of rules for government eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The floor schedule this week consists largely of routine legislation, but Democrats and Republicans are expected to continue debating energy plans and exchanging blame over the rising price of gasoline.

Committee hearings to watch

House

* The Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee hears testimony at 2 p.m. Thursday on the path forward regarding the contested contract award to build a new Air Force aerial tanker aircraft. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2118.

* The Foreign Affairs Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Wednesday on U.S. policy toward Iran. Witnesses include William J. …

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