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Senate Faces Amendment Pileup; House Has Light Week

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to pass the financial regulatory reform bill next week, but with dozens of amendments still pending, Democrats have acknowledged the debate could drag into the following week.

“We’re going to do our utmost to finish this bill we’re on now next week,” Reid said on Friday, urging Members to help move the amendment process along.

“There doesn’t need to be long periods of time for debating most of these issues,” he said.

The Senate cleared a handful of financial reform amendments Thursday night but still faces a heavy workload on the bill.

Things could be pushed along if Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) can reach an agreement with Republicans on a manager’s amendment that would include some of the proposals that have been offered by the rank and file, but even the timing on that remains unclear.

Reid noted Friday that the Senate will have to move on a war supplemental bill before the Memorial Day break. The House also needs to act, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said last week that he hoped Democratic leaders would be able to bring that legislation — which would fund President Barack Obama’s $33 billion request to pay for ongoing military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq — as well as a budget resolution to the floor before the Memorial Day recess.

But time is running out on both sides of the Capitol, and with the Senate’s abbreviated work schedule next week — no votes Monday or Friday — it will be a tight squeeze to hit the Memorial Day deadline for the war supplemental. In the House, neither the budget resolution nor the supplemental have been marked up in committee.

The House will keep a relatively light schedule next week as the chamber waits for the Senate to maneuver its way through big-ticket items that already have passed the House

“We had a tremendous lift to do,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters last week, noting that the House already has passed regulatory reform and climate change legislation and is awaiting Senate action on those measures.

The most high-profile item on the House agenda this week is a bill that would authorize roughly $83 billion for research programs across several federal agencies.

As they have done repeatedly this work period, Democratic leaders are expected to brand the legislation as a jobs bill.

“It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” Pelosi said last week.

“Research and education lead to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good-paying jobs,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) said April 28 when the bill was reported out of the Science and Technology Committee, which he chairs.

Hoyer also said he would like to bring to the floor a proposal — which Pelosi said could move through the Ways and Means Committee as soon as next week — extending a number of tax cuts that expired last year.

The House will not be in session on Monday and will return at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. As has been the case since the start of this work period, no votes are expected Friday.

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