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Other items on the Congressional to-do list

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

The Federal Eye is back from vacation -- and so is Congress. Lawmakers are set to tackle several big issues in the coming weeks before packing up and going home for reelection campaigns. Though tax cuts and a small business aid package top the to-do list, several issues impacting government operations and federal workers are worth keeping an Eye on, according to conversations with several Congressional aides:

1.) Budget bills: Congress is nowhere near ready to pass dozens of appropriations bills that fund federal agencies, so expect continuing resolutions to keep the lights on until at least later this year.

2.) Defense authorization bill: It's the spending bill most likely to advance, but several complicating issues could stall the Senate's passage and prolong a final House-Senate compromise. One big unknown: How will the bill address the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy? The House version repeals the policy, but the Senate hasn't voted. Senators will likely wait until the Obama administration decides how to respond to last week's ruling by a federal judge that the policy is unconstitutional.

3.) The future of the Postal Service: Two things to watch -- and neither involves ending Saturday mail delivery or closing post offices -- two no-go options in an election year. Expect Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) to introduce a postal reform bill that addresses a long-simmering dispute between USPS and the Office of Personnel Management regarding overpayments -- by as much as $75 billion -- to the old Civil Service Retirement System. The bill might help close the Postal Service's estimated 10-year, $280 billion budget gap. Also -- for the second year in a row, lawmakers are likely to address the $5.5 billion in prepayments that USPS must make to its retiree health benefits by allowing it to pay less than required.

4.) Cybersecurity: Two competing bills from the Senate Commerce and Homeland Security committees are expected to merge into one bill that combines business and military/security concerns. Passage before the midterms is unlikely and more likely during a lame duck session, but it's a top priority of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to Senate aides. Watch what the bill says about how the government could intervene in the private sector amid imminent cybersecurity concerns.

5.) Telework: House aides believe there's a good chance that a bill giving federal workers the option of working remotely could pass this year. The Obama administration considers telework an attractive recruiting tool and other supporters think it's a critical tool for continuity of government in the event of terrorist attacks or natural disasters. But will Republicans and vulnerable Democrats approve a bill that gives federal workers another big job perk and feeds the stereotype that they're lazy and underworked?

6.) Will Obama nominees get an up or down vote?: Watch how quickly the Senate moves to confirm Jack Lew, President Obama's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget. His confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Obama also must decide soon on a several nominees for new financial regulatory positions. Meanwhile, hundreds of other Executive Branch picks are still waiting for confirmation votes and Obama has had fewer judges confirmed than Richard Nixon. Some picks may get a vote towards before the Senate goes home, but don't hold your breath. (Track Obama's nominees with The Post's Head Count.)

Are we missing any big issues? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama says no to solar panels on the White House and disagrees with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Mexico. New Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee makes his Sunday morning TV debut. Michelle Obama and Laura Bush appear together at 9/11 event in Shanksville, Pa. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the middle of the Chicago mayoral pack. White House Adviser David Axelrod says health-care reform will grow more popular. Patricia Geoghegan replaces Kenneth Feinberg as pay czar. CIA Director Leon Panetta's 9/11 message to employees. Federal Judge Virginia A. Phillips -- who ruled "don't ask, don't tell" unconstitutional -- profiled. Foreign Service Officer R. Smith Simpson dies at age 103.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Afghan war hero to receive Medal of Honor: Salvatore Giunta, 22, will become the first living recipient of the medal who has served in any war since Vietnam.

Pentagon faces new questions after judge's 'don't ask' ruling: It is still unclear whether the U.S. government would seek to suspend the injunction pending an appeal of the judge's ruling.

Defense cuts may slow area economy: Several in the industry said the downturn could be as severe as it was in the early 1990s, when, among other things, the Navy largely pulled out of Crystal City.

FAA:
FAA proposal seeks more rest for pilots: A proposal announced Friday would require pilots to rest for nine hours before reporting for duty.

FCC:
FCC move to release White Spaces has tech firms dreaming of wireless boom: High-tech firms and engineers are dreaming that the agency's move to release "white spaces," or unused television channels, later this month will unleash another boom of mobile innovation.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
Woman's links to Mexican drug cartel a saga of corruption on U.S. side of border: Martha Garnica devised secret codes, passed stacks of cash through car windows and sketched out a map for smugglers to safely haul drugs and undocumented workers across the border.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:
Crack-coke sentence disparity persists: Defense lawyers and other critics of the tougher crack sentences say they subject mostly blacks to long prison terms while those caught with powder cocaine get far more lenient treatment.

NASA:
NASA contractors get help finding new jobs: Texas-based federal contractors who lose their jobs as NASA's space shuttle program is retired will receive assistance from the Obama administration in finding new work.

TSA:
TSA warns you to report photographers: A controversial poster designed to encourage passers-by to report suspicious people, including photographers, is making photo fans furious.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | September 13, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Eye Opener  
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Next: First Senate impeachment trial since Clinton starts

Comments

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Posted by: devinsmith13 | September 13, 2010 6:16 AM | Report abuse

Take less than 30 seconds to fill out this online form that emails all of your congressmen telling them to pass whistleblower protection reform legislation:

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6319/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1856

Posted by: rjmaclean | September 13, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

President Obama says that the repukelicans have been "sitting on the sidelines". Barack still refuses to call a spade a spade. The repukes have doing a lot more than that. They are the American Taliban as Peter Sessions hinted at last year.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paypaul/3257320136/

How can Barack Obama bring about any sort of change as promised when a vast majority of his appointees haven't been confirmed. The GOP has been trying (and succeeding) to derail or deter any real change that would mean their well heeled backers would suffer to the benefit of the average American. All the time spent wrangling over the Healthcare Bill in 2009 could have been spent on more serious jobs bills, energy and Financial Reform. All of those bills have also been bogged down by that Party.
All the repukes efforts have been to derail the Obama Presidency. Yet his own party has done him no better. Between the Blue Dog Democrats and the wishy-washy positions taken by people like Nancy Pelosi it's a wonder anything has been accomplished in the first 2 years of the Obama Administration.

Posted by: PayPaul | September 13, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

On the budget Republicans state deficits hurt economy. We need to make sure any tax cuts or extensions are paid for then.

On defense. This budget is useless and needs to be trimmed by 50%. I know Generals love the latest in bomb gear and new wars. But trim the budget to save money and prevent world conquest by Generals.

Postal Service. Fedex and UPS should be restricted to delievery of packages in excess of 10lbs. Then the USPO will become profitable.

Cyber Security we need to forget about. This will beome just one more bottomless pit for tax dollars.

Telework. Waste of money. We don't people taking care of their kids on the taxpayer dime.

Nominees. No comment.

The most important issue, which Congress will not address is unemployment. We need to end outsourcing, corporate mergers, and buyouts. These have devastated the employment picture.

Posted by: Maddogg | September 13, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I don't see any job creation bills on the gaenda...
but a few of these will kill jobs...
the telecommuting bill for one...
how many non goverment jobs will be lost if these people don't work in an office...
don't you people get it...
I guess you don't and thats why you have got to go...

Posted by: DwightCollins | September 13, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I believe the Tea Party, whose composition is radical extremists, should be drafted for military service on the the frontlines of Afghanistan. Maybe there they can do some good.

Posted by: Maddogg | September 13, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

What about all of the nominations that have not been considered? I am most particularly wondering what happened to the nomination of James Boarman for Public Printer. I have heard that it is "on hold" but not sure what that means.

Posted by: cary2 | September 13, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Answer me this ,why can`t someone in Washington DC do something ethical about the leadership within the United States Postal Service ? Mr.Potter & everyone under him in management @ Headquarters needs to go .To them the Service is a Lifestyle provider not a service oriented business for the people by the people .

Posted by: braaspropertiesllc | September 13, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

MADDOG said...

"I believe the Tea Party, whose composition is radical extremists, should be drafted for military service on the the frontlines of Afghanistan. Maybe there they can do some good."

Yeah, because stupid people like you wouldn't know the first thing about defending your country.

Good thing my husband is in afghanistan protecting the right of fools like you to breath. A shame really.!

Posted by: minuramsey | September 13, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

yes, another issue before the next vacation is extension of unemployment benefits.
I don't want them waiting till the last minute or not voting before Nov. 28th for the next extension.
Which they will have, undoubtedly, do because it is getting worse out there.

VOTE EXTENSIONS THROUGHOUT 2011 !!!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | September 13, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The FAA Reauthorization Act needs to be passed, after now fourteen consecutive(!)extensions. It's being held hostage by a couple of side matters, having to do with Fedex and Reagan airport slots. If need be, such items could simply be voted up or down in "hard conference"--or else removed from this bill, for a future Congress to decide.

Posted by: DeminFlagstaff | September 13, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

IMMIGRATION !!!!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | September 13, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Teabaggers!

Posted by: jiji1 | September 13, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Why do you, and other news organizations, continue to publish that the USPS has a "$280 billion budget gap?" It doesn't. The actual number used by the Post Master General was $238 billion. But even he admitted that was a "theoretical" number. Which in English means he made it up. In order for the USPS to run a $238 billion dollar deficit, over the next ten years, would require losses to triple from the current level, every year for the next ten years. The Post Master General admitted that the $238 billion figure is not accurate in front of a Senate panel over a year ago, but yet you publish it as fact, again. Do you not research before you print articles?

The reality is, and if you do some research you'll find the facts, the USPS is $800 million in the black through the first three quarters of this year. If you take out the $5.5 billion a year health fund prepayments, the USPS has actually been in the black every year throughout the worst recession in the last 75 years.

Posted by: RCinOK | September 13, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

when is congress going to repeal the windfall profit law? i have worked my whole career outside of the post office paying into social security. why should i be penalized when it comes to my retirement time?

Posted by: coachbronk2003 | September 13, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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