Federal Relations

July 24, 2009

Update from Washington, DC

Congress started off this week with the goal of advancing health care reform financing options in preparation for an overall vote on reform measures before their August recess.  By the end of the week, however, it became clear to House and Senate leaders – as well as the President – that they would not meet that deadline.  Instead they plan to continue negotiations through August and into September when they will try again to garner the votes they need to pass a comprehensive health care reform measure.  

This slight “slow down” has allowed everyone to catch their breath and focus on completing the remaining FY10 spending bills. 

The House is currently debating the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill on the floor and will likely vote on that final measure later today.  This follows the passage of the Transportation-HUD bill yesterday.  This leaves the FY10 Defense bill as the final spending measure in front of the House, which they will take action on next week. 

The Senate, meanwhile, continues to trail the House in their progress on spending measures.  On Monday they will take up the FY10 Energy & Water bill followed by action on their Agriculture and Military Construction-VA bills.  In addition to the Senate floor action on Energy-Water, the Senate Appropriations Committee next week plans to mark up another two of its bills: Transportation-HUD and Labor-HHS-Education. That will leave just Defense, which may not occur until after the August recess. 

The House and Senate will also continue negotiations over climate legislation.  The urgency on this issue is not as intense as it has been on health care reform and several members on both sides of the aisle seem to agree that this legislation will move after health care – sometime in the fall.  

While the Office of Federal Relations continues to monitor progress on all of these fronts, we are also beginning to look forward to August when many of our Delegation Members and their staff will return to the state.  They will likely focus their activities on meetings and other events focused on the current health care debate as well as continuing to seek feedback from constituencies on how best to craft climate change legislation.  

At the same time, we are beginning to talk with Congressional staff about their availability to be on campus for various meetings, briefings, and tours.  Please let us know if you are interested in inviting Members or their staff to campus for a particular event or if you would like to help organize a tour/briefing for your program area.  We’re here and happy to help coordinate schedules so that we can maximize the time that Congressional staff will give us for these activities.

Christy Gullion, Director