Cloakroom: Dude Where’s My Car Edition

House Cloakroom: February 13 – February 17 

Analysis: This week the House will take up a reauthorization of the highway bill.  This bill is meant to allocate the revenue from the gas tax to fund the various federal highway programs; however, that has become decreasingly the focus of these reauthorizations.  The federal gas tax was meant to be a user fee system for maintenance of the highways, but has instead become a slush fund for congress to fund mass transit boondoggles and landscape interstate medians.  While this bill attempts to address some of the flaws in the structure of the highway program, it has serious funding problems.  Not only does the bill spend above the Ryan budget numbers, but it attempts to use energy revenue from a 10 year revenue window to fund a program that only lasts for 5 years.  It would seem that most families in financial trouble would cut back on leisure and entertainment in order to finance an analogous repair on a ruptured water line.  Congress; however, seems to believe that we’re better off charging our great grandchildren.  The House will likely be on this bill the entire week and there is the possibility of amendments.  Keep an eye out for those. 

Major Floor Action: 

  • HR 7 – American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 

Major Committee Action:

  • The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on next year’s budget at 10am on Wednesday, February 15th.
  • The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the non-recess “recess” appointments to the CFPB and NLRB at 10am on Wednesday, February 15th.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the contraception and abortifecient drug mandate on religious organizations at 9:30am on Thursday, February 16th.
  • The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on an overhaul of No Child Left Behind at 10am on Thursday, February 16th.
  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on what lies ahead for Egypt and its new government at 10am on Thursday, February 16th.

  

Senate Cloakroom: February 13 – February 17 

Analysis:  Similarly to the House, the Senate is taking up its own version of a highway reauthorization.  As usual in this Congress, they have managed to create even larger of a fiscal problem than the House.  The Senate highway reauthorization only lasts for two years, but still exceeds the funding from the federal gas tax.  Worse still, is that this funding gap is filled with tax increases.  Sen. Reid may enjoy his cowboy poetry festivals, but I’m sure even he would agree that if our infrastructure is crumbling along with our credit, we’d be better served to defund the cowboy poets in favor of our ice road truckers.  Of course, this point is moot because all of this funding should be devolved to the states.  Like the House, the Senate should be on this bill the entire week and amendments from conservatives regarding opt-out and devolution are very possible.

Major Floor Action:

Major Committee Action: 

  • The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on next year’s budget at 10am on Tuesday, February 14th.
  • The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing on the new Farm Bill at 9:30 on Wednesday, February 15th.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “Worldwide Threats to U.S. National Security” at 9:30 on Thursday, February 16th.
  • The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on the “European Debt Crisis” at 10am on Thursday, February 16th.
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a markup of cybersecurity legislation at 2:30pm on Thursday, February 16th
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