The House and Senate both returned on Monday for a busy workweek. The most noteworthy event of the week will be the hearing where the Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the Obamacare rollout. That will take place on Wednesday. On the same day, the House-Senate conference to work out budget differences will have its first official meeting, which members of the public may attend. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees also have negotiations on a long-delayed farm bill. The negotiations have been particularly contentious because the two Chambers differ on how much money should be cut from the food stamps program.
By far, Secretary Sebelius’ testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be the most interesting hearing of the week. It will probably be a made-for-television event—but that doesn’t mean that has to turn into some spectacle. Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino offers some suggestions on how to keep it substantive.
Aside from the Obamacare hearing, the House-Senate budget conference will also meet for the first time. Last week some lawmakers suggested that it would not make drastic changes to the Federal government’s finances, and this week we are hearing a similar theme.
Last month we wrote, “Today, a handful of Republicans are ready to rebuild the Republican brand in their own image, even if they pull down their party’s House majority in the process.” We’re not the only ones suggesting that; Politico today suggests as much as well.
People often complain about the incivility and dysfunction afflicting Congress these days. We have suggested that the way to reform Congress is that voters must demand it by defeating candidates who refuse to cooperate and act with comity. Joshua DuBois is on the right track in his new column—the voters must require civility. However, he places the onus on “moderates”. Moderates are not the only ones that have a stake in promoting civility: liberals and conservatives do too. (And guess, what: They can even compromise on legislation, too—it’s difficult, but doable.) Nonetheless, a worthwhile read.
And for our latest blog post: What Happens When a Member of Congress Dies?