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After Recess, a Packed Agenda for Congress

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set an ambitious agenda for when the House returns from its two-week recess. (AP / Evan Vucci)

By Ben Pershing

After a month-and-a-half marathon of legislating, Congress is poised to take a much-needed two week break during which members can return to their districts. But it sounds like there will be little rest for lawmakers when they return to the Capitol later this month.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today laid out an ambitious agenda for the House to tackle when it comes back into session the week of April 20. The calendar will be heavy on bills dealing with the financial crisis but will also contains legislation touching on several other key policy areas.

First off will be a budget conference report, which the House and Senate will have to negotiate and pass after both chambers approve their own versions this week. Ratifying the budget will let the Appropriations Committee get to work on spending bills, and Pelosi said action on those measures "will be a good part of how we go forward in May and June." Pelosi hopes to have most or all appropriations bills through the House by June 30.

Beyond that, Pelosi said the agenda would be heavy on bills related to the financial crisis, particularly on alleviating the impact of the crisis on individuals. That includes bills on "predatory lending, credit card reform, stopping mortgage scams, those kinds of issues," Pelosi said. She added that Congress would also work with the White House on
broader financial oversight and regulatory reform, including "addressing the Federal Reserve authority."

Pelosi said this was not an "exhaustive" list of what would be on the post-recess agenda, but only "some of the highlights." At some point, the House will also take up intelligence authorization, a massive highway bill and several other items requiring action.

One thing that won't be on the House floor soon after the break is a major climate change bill. With multiple proposals now public, congressional Democrats need to work out differences among themselves over whether to push for a "cap and trade" system or some other method for reducing pollution, perhaps in the form of an emissions tax. Asked when a climate change bill might finally be ready for the floor, Pelosi would say only, "This year. In this session of Congress."

"We are building our consensus, and when we are ready we will bring it to the floor."

By Ben Pershing  |  April 2, 2009; 1:11 PM ET
Categories:  Agenda , House  
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While I believe that we need climate legislation urgently, I'm relieved to hear Speaker Pelosi say that there will be room to debate the different legislative proposals circulating currently. It seems as if some of her colleagues are so married to cap and trade that there is no room to discuss the alternatives. And for my money, a revenue-neutral carbon tax like the one Rep. Larson introduced is a better way to curb emissions, stimulate green R&D than a cap and trade scheme. I’m glad to hear that it will be included in the discussion.

Posted by: SallyVCrockett | April 3, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

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