Week Ahead: Fights Over Farm, Iraq Cash
Another week, another congressional schedule light on floor activity but heavy on backroom dealing.
The existing Farm Bill is set to expire Friday, with President Bush having signed a one-week extension of the law after House and Senate negotiators were unable to agree on a new version of the measure last week. Talks on that roughly $600 billion bill will continue apace this week, with the primary focus on figuring out how to pay for new farm program spending increases and tax cuts contained in the package. If conferees can agree on a bill, it will move almost immediately to the House and Senate floors for passage.
The second big-ticket item being worked out behind closed doors is the supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats have floated the prospect of combining war funding for both this year and next year into one package that could exceed $170 billion, well more than Bush's $108 billion request. The president has vowed to veto a measure that exceeds his baseline or includes spending for domestic items, though Democrats seem inclined to ignore that threat and load up the bill anyway.
On the floor, the Senate will take up a measure this week that would override a controversial 2007 Supreme Court decision by extending the statute of limitations on pay discrimination lawsuits. The House will tackle a small business innovation bill and a Coast Guard authorization measure, and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday will mark up a housing stimulus package.
Aside from Tuesday's primary in Pennsylvania (you may have heard something about that), voters in Mississippi's 1st district will go to the polls for a special election to replace Roger Wicker (R), who was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott (R). Though the district leans Republican, Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers (D) is seen as having a real chance to upset Southaven Mayor Greg Davis (R) for the seat.
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