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.

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