Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lame Duck Congress Returns for Leadership Elections

The lame duck Congress returned to Capitol Hill this week to elect leaders for the upcoming 112th Congress. The House Republican Caucus elected Rep. Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker-designate, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) as selected Majority Leader, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Majority Whip. The House Democratic Caucus elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Minority Leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) as Minority Whip, and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) as Assistant Minority Leader (a new position). The new leadership will take office in January.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, the leadership positions will remain the same. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will remain as Majority Leader and will be joined by Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL). Republicans elected Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Minority Leader and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) as Minority Whip.

With Congress returning, Congressional leaders have been working to resolve the FY11 appropriations bills. The current continuing resolution expires on December 3rd, but there does not seem to be a final conclusion to the funding process. There have been discussions about a short-term or long-term continuing resolution, each of which has pros and cons. Either way, leaders are working on crafting a bill that will be funded at a substantially lower level than that of the President's budget request. Furthermore, the Pell Grant shortfall continues to be an issue that will likely need to be addressed next year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced earlier this week that he will bring the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill. While the bill has majority support, it still appears that the bill lacks the 60 votes necessary to proceed.

Don't miss your opportunity to meet with your members of Congress and their staff during the 2011 Community College National Legislative Summit this February 13-16 in Washington, D.C. And be sure to register for the pre-Summit Advocacy Academy on February 13. This new academy is tailored to the needs of federal advocacy for community colleges. For more information and to register, go to Read more!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lame Duck Congress Returns Next Week

Congress is expected to return to session next week to proceed with a series of bills, including all of the appropriations bills and the extension of tax cuts. The federal government is under a continuing resolution that will fund the government until December 3rd. It is unclear whether Congress will address the appropriations bills before the end of the 111th Congress or carry on a continuing resolution into 2011. While both parties strongly desire to address the bills this year, there will need to be a quick solution in order to finalize the bills. One solution would be to reach an agreement on reducing some of the funding within the bills to meet bipartisan approval. The collective thinking on the $5.7 billion Pell Grant shortfall is that Congress will not address it this year. Next year, Congress will likely be unable to address the Pell Grant shortfall unless they put the funding into an emergency spending bill, which it has done in past.

Outlook for the 112th Congress:

Congress will return this month to determine the Congressional leadership for the upcoming year. The week after Thanksgiving, the Democratic and Republican caucuses will determine the committee chairs, with the committee rosters following shortly thereafter.

Outlook for the 112th Senate:

The Senate in 2011 will have 53 Democrats (including 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats) and 47 Republicans (including one uncalled race, but the two front runners are Republicans). Senate leadership is not expected to change, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) retaining their posts. Additionally, the committee chairman will largely be unaffected, as Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) will remain as Chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will remain as Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Outlook for the 112th House of Representatives:

On the House side, the election brought about significant change, as the Republican party gained control of the House for the 112th Congress. The current election results are 239 Republicans and 188 Democrats, with 8 uncalled elections. Current Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to become the Speaker of the House, and current Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) is expected to be the Majority Leader. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a former trustee from Kern Community College District, announced that he will seek the Majority Whip position. Current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced that she will run for Minority Leader. The current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) are running against each other for the Minority Whip position.

On the committee front, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) have announced their candidacy for the position of Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has forwarded his name to be Chair of the Education and Labor Committee. Read more!