|TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2010|
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Senate is in recess all week and is scheduled to return January 18.
The House this week is set to hold votes on Tuesday and Wednesday only.
KEY HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
There are no relevant hearings or markups scheduled in either House this week.
HEALTH CARE REMAINS UNCERTAIN
After coming up with 60 votes on Christmas Eve, Senate Majority Leader is now tasked with finding a compromise between two very different pieces of legislation coming out of both houses.
While C-SPAN and many elected officials have called upon Congressional Democrats to hold negotiations in a public forum, an unofficial conference is taking place behind closed doors to make certain that things are kept confidential until an agreement is made between the House and Senate. There has been nothing made public regarding which pieces of either bill might make it into the final legislation, but conventional political wisdom seems to point toward the Senate bill probably serving as the template for the final bill.
States continue to make it clear that the unfunded mandates incurred through the involuntary Medicaid expansions included in the bills are still their biggest concern. While Senator Nelson's now infamous "Nebraska deal" locked in his vote as the 60th to file for cloture in late December, he is now lobbying leadership to expand the deal in the final passage to every state. It is likely that type of expansion would prove to be cost prohibitive, however.
While negotiations are constantly taking place, there is still uncertainty at every level as to what will pass if anything at this point. Further complicating the agenda, the Administration is continuing to help the bill cross the finish line while simultaneously switching gears to promote an aggressive jobs agenda.
NEGATIVE LABOR TRENDS CONTINUE
Last week the Department of Labor released numbers showing the national unemployment rate at 10%, almost exactly twice the amount of unemployment in December of 2007. These numbers have fueled Congressional desire to act on a jobs package immediately after completion of the health care bill, perhaps before.
Prior to leaving for the holidays, the House passed H.R. 2847, the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010, but the Senate sent very few signals to predict how or when they will approach the bill.
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