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The Week Ahead: Top Hill Aides Weigh In

With climate change legislation, the budget and the Iraq supplemental all on tap (not to mention several key congressional primaries across the country), it will be a busy first week back from the Memorial Day recess on Capitol Hill. Beginning today, Capitol Briefing is starting a new feature: Each week when Congress is in session, we'll ask aides to the top four Hill leaders what THEY think are the most important things to watch for. Here's the first take of these political insiders. Let us know what you think of the feature in the comments section below:

Jim Manley, for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
Later today, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 3036, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.

We assume that our Republican friends plan to use the full 30 hours post-cloture to debate that motion.

With so many Americans suffering the consequences of the Bush economy and so much work for Congress to do, that is unfortunate.

The Boxer-Warner-Lieberman bill is bipartisan in the truest sense.

What better opportunity than now to show the American people and the world that the United States Senate is ready to move beyond partisanship to do the right thing?

A time will come not far from now when a future generation will look back upon today.

They will know what we know now - that global warming is real.

Don Stewart, for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):
The Senate is debating the Boxer Climate Tax Bill this week. We expect a robust debate on the merits of this climate tax legislation, as well as amendments to protect family budgets from the increased gas prices and electricity prices that even the proponents admit will result from this bill. We will also work to ensure that the bill does not place the U.S. at an economic disadvantage relative to our international competitors. During the week, we expect to also debate clean energy solutions not adequately addressed in this bill such as clean coal technologies, and emission-free nuclear power. What's not yet clear is whether the majority will allow for debate and votes on amendments before shutting down the bill.

Brendan Daly, for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):
The Economy: With Americans continuing to lose their jobs because of a weakening economy, the New Direction Congress is doing its part in helping to pass legislation to create jobs. For example, this week, Congress will be sending to the President bipartisan transportation legislation to help create 40,000 new jobs.

The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on the unemployment numbers to be announced on Friday by the Labor Department. So far, our nation has experienced four consecutive months of job losses totaling 260,000 jobs.

As the House and Senate move ahead on comprehensive housing legislation, the House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on "The Housing Crisis - Identifying Tax Incentives to Stimulate the Economy."

Veterans: The House and Senate have passed and will soon send to the President the Heroes Earning Assistance and Tax Relief Act (HEART Act), which provides permanent tax relief for military families, expands the availability of Recovery Rebates for military families, and expands homeownership opportunities for veterans.

And Congress is working to send the President the bipartisan GI Bill for the 21st Century - critical legislation providing a full, four-year college education to the men and women of the U.S. military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001. The bill will help make our troops and veterans part of a new economic recovery, just as the Greatest Generation was after World War II.

Budget: The House is expected to vote this week on a five-year budget conference agreement -- the first budget agreement reached in an election year since 2000. The budget:

• Supports significant tax relief for middle class families, including extension of marriage penalty relief, the child tax credit, and the 10 percent bracket

• Invests in energy; homeland security, while rejecting the President's cuts in funding for law enforcement; veterans health care; education, and infrastructure;

• Returns the budget to surplus in 2012

Michael Steel, for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio):
Our military leaders told Congress that they needed the troop funding bill passed before Memorial Day. House Democrats employed a "use and abuse" veto strategy that blew up in their faces after they voted against funding our troops, and then they refused to bring up a clean troop funding bill before the holiday, so furlough notices will soon be sent to DoD employees. This week, the key to getting a clean supplemental bill passed into law, and averting even more serious consequences for our troops, will be the Democrats' Blue Dog caucus. They insisted that the extraneous domestic funding that the Democratic Leadership tacked onto the troop funding bill be "paid for" with a tax increase. As has happened in the past, that unnecessary tax increase was stripped out in the Senate and even more unrelated domestic spending was added. What will Blue Dogs do now? Will they follow the pattern of the past and roll over for their Leaders, as they did on the AMT patch last year, and are currently doing on FISA and border security? Or will they stand on principle, keep their promise, and oppose holding our troops hostage for more domestic spending?

Every Member who went home over the Memorial Day district work period got an earful from their constituents about the rising cost of gasoline. But is the Democratic Leadership finally willing to do anything about it? Or will they continue to make reducing carbon emissions their priority, even though it will mean significantly higher gas prices? As the Senate debates a carbon reduction scheme this week, will the House Democratic Leaders finally listen to the American people and act to increase the domestic supply of energy in an environmentally responsible way? This isn't rocket science. Increasing the supply of American-made energy will help lower gas prices. Republicans stand ready to work with Democrats to do just that.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 2, 2008; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Agenda  
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