As the August recess looms and the country looks toward the November elections, energy issues continue to play a role in the debate. In addition to the introduction of numerous energy bills in Congress last week, the New York Times announced July 27 that it is launching a new series on energy and climate policy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is negotiating with Republicans to permit the Senate to clear a major cybersecurity bill and a tax extenders package before the five-week August recess and the political conventions. After months of contentious negotiations, the Senate voted, 84-11, late last week to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed to Senator Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) bill (S. 3414) and begin debate. Additionally, as none of the fiscal year 2013 appropriations measures have been enacted, House and Senate leadership have been debating the details of a continuing resolution, ranging from three to six months long, that the chambers will have to pass in September in order to ensure that the federal government is funded when the fiscal year begins October 1. On July 26, congressional leadership approached a deal to fund the government for six months, retaining government funding at the same levels as last year’s debt limit law; the bipartisan funding bill could be rolled out early this week. Finally, House leadership plans to bring votes to the floor on rival Senate and House tax bills as well as a one-year extension of the farm bill by the end of the week.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has been trying to develop a tax extenders bill that might be taken up either before the August recess or sometime in September. Initially, Senator Baucus was planning on offering a slim extenders package and putting the burden on members to try to get excluded items back in, but he is now considering starting with a full package and allowing members the opportunity to argue that some should be dropped.
The House and Senate will be in recess from August 6 until September 10. The House is scheduled to work September 10-14 and 19-21, potentially passing a six month continuing resolution during that time. At that point, there is talk of the House adjourning until the first week of October. The Senate is already slated to go out on September 21. As quite a bit of work will remain unfinished at that point, it is likely that the lame duck will be filled with numerous, hopefully productive, debates.