With 90 Second Summaries, we aim to cover policy items due to receive close attention in the coming weeks and months that are not being properly explained by most of the press corps. As a result, over one third of our episodes cover pieces of legislation that are receiving action or are expected to receive action during this lame duck session of Congress. We did not hit every hot topic on the board, but we got to a good number of them. Without further ado, here's a roundup of the bills we covered that you should know about as the lame duck session unfolds:
Now, suspension bills need a 2/3 vote to pass, so that's a pretty high hurdle -- 290 votes, at least 35 of which would have to come from Republicans. So why bring the bill to the floor that way? Suspension bills aren't subject to amendment, nor to the motion to recommit. So although the hurdle is high, it's a straight-up yes-or-no vote on unemployment benefits extension. Click here for more information on the unemployment insurance extension.
The Dream Act: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced he will bring up the DREAM Act as a standalone bill in the lame duck session. In the past, the Senate has attempted to attach the DREAM Act to larger bills. Click here for information on the DREAM Act. The Expiring Bush Tax Cuts: The deals are still being hammered out on this so the specifics of what legislation will pass are still little fuzzy. By all reasonable expectations, an extension of some sort WILL get passed before the end of the year. Click here for more information about extending the Bush tax cuts. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: This bill has been moving its way through the Senate somewhat quicker than most of us expected. Cloture passed yesterday, 74-25, on the motion to proceed to debate (generally a proxy for cloture on the final bill) and the Senate is expected to pass the bill today or tomorrow. The hot topic has been the Tester Amendment, which provides exemptions for small and local farmers from the new regulations. The Tester Amendment will likely pass, but H.R. 2749, the House version of the Food Safety Bill, was passed without a similar provision. The two bills will have to be merged and whether or not the Tester Amendment will survive that step is unclear. If the Tester Amendment is indeed included in the Senate bill, then it is scheduled to be our next 90 Second Summary (that will be Monday). Click here for more information about the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.