Washington Week Ahead: Ready to drop off the fiscal cliff?

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, DEC. 2, 2012 - Be ready to grab your parachute, advised Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., during the Missouri Farm Bureau annual meeting today, because we appear to be headed over the fiscal cliff, a scenario when existing tax provisions expire and automatic spending cuts kick in at the end of the year.

Luetkemeyer said he saw no willingness from Democrats to cut entitlements as part of the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations and said Republicans were unwilling to raise top tax rates to generate more revenue - preferring to cap loopholes and deductions in the tax code instead.

However, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was optimistic that Democrats and Republicans - who appear to be at a stalemate in their negotiations over what to cut and how to generate more revenue - was optimistic that a deal could be cut by year end.

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Geithner said the only thing standing in the way of getting a deal done would be a “refusal by Republicans to accept that rates are going to have to go up on the wealthiest Americans. And I don't really see them doing that.

Geithner said the Obama administration offered “detailed comprehensive reforms that add up to 600 billion dollars” and cited farm programs as one example.

“We are proposing to reform farm subsidies where we think we can save a lot of money. It makes a lot of sense. In healthcare, we're proposing to modestly increase premiums for high-income beneficiaries of Medicare. It makes a lot of sense. We're proposing to get the government much smarter of how they buy medicine for people who are under Medicare. Those are just three examples, but there's 600 billion dollars of examples in the president's proposals.

Geithner did not clarify how much the Administration was willing to cut out of farm subsidies or other programs as part of the negotiations, but the White House has previously forwarded proposals that would cut about $30 billion over the next 10 years.

 Together we can feed the Bees

Speaker of the House John Boehner was much less optimistic during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. Asked about the status of the negotiations, the Ohio Republican said, “Well, right now, I would say -- we're nowhere, period.

“The president is asking for $1.6 trillion worth of new revenue over 10 years, twice as much as he has been asking for in public. He has stimulus spending in here that exceeded the amount of new cuts that he was willing to consider,” Boehner said. “It was not a serious offer.”

With less than a month to go before Congress confronts the fiscal cliff, perhaps the only surprising thing is how little urgency there seems to be in addressing these issues. The House will only be in session from Monday through Wednesday, although the Senate will be working throughout the week on the National Defense Reauthorization Act and will consider a United Nations treaty on the rights for the disabled later in the week.

For more on hearings and events this week:


Monday, December 3


12:00 p.m. On Monday, the House will meet for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. No roll call votes are expected in the House, but members will consider H.R.  5817, the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer

2:00 p.m. The U.S. Senate convenes and will resume consideration of S.3254, the DoD Authorization bill.

5:00 pm, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session to consider Executive Calendar #760, the nomination of Paul William Grimm, of MD, to be United States District Judge for the District of Maryland and then resume consideration of S.3254, the DoD Authorization bill and immediately conduct a 2nd roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the bill.


Tuesday, December 4


Secretary Vilsack will address regional innovation and the economic momentum of rural

America at Housing and Urban Development's 2012 Sustainable Communities Grantee Convening in Washington, DC.

10:00 a.m. the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.Res. __ - Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendments to H.R. 2838, with an amendment (Sponsored by Rep. Frank LoBiondo / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

2) H.R. 6582 - To allow for innovations and alternative technologies that meet or exceed desired energy efficiency goals, and to make technical corrections to existing Federal energy efficiency laws to allow American manufacturers to remain competitive, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3) H.R. 6602 - To make revisions in title 36, United States Code, as necessary to keep the title current and make technical corrections and improvements (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee)

4) H.R. 6605 - To eliminate an unnecessary reporting requirement for an unfunded DNA Identification grant program (Sponsored by Rep. John Conyers / Judiciary Committee)

5) H.R. 6620 - To eliminate certain limitations on the length of Secret Service Protection for former Presidents and for the children of former Presidents (Sponsored by Rep. Trey Gowdy / Judiciary Committee)

6) H.R. 6223 - To amend section 1059(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 to clarify that a period of employment abroad by the Chief of Mission or United States Armed Forces as a translator, interpreter, or in an executive level security position is to be counted as a period of residence and physical presence in the United States for purposes of qualifying for naturalization if at least a portion of such period was spent in Iraq or Afghanistan, and for other purposes, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent / Judiciary Committee)

7) S. 3486 - Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy / Judiciary Committee)

8) S. 2367 - 21st Century Language Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Kent Conrad / Judiciary Committee) 


10:00 a.m. 2167 Rayburn, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will review the preparedness, response to and recovery from Hurricane Sandy.


11:00 a.m., 1334 Longworth House Office Building, Host: Committee on Natural Resources | Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, Hearing: Legislative Hearing on S. 3193


2: 30 p.m.  SR. 253. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold hearings to examine the nominations of Mark Doms, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, Polly Ellen Trottenberg, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Mignon L. Clyburn, of South Carolina, to be a Member of the Federal Communications Commission, Joshua D. Wright, of Virginia, to be a Federal Trade Commissioner, and Christopher R. Beall, of Oklahoma, and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, of California, both to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors.


Wednesday, December 5

9:00 a.m. The House meets for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

Secretary Vilsack will speak at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC

10:00 a.m., 2128 Rayburn HOB, Host: Committee on Financial Services | Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, Hearing: Hearing entitled "Assessing the Economic and Market Implications of the Dodd-Frank Derivatives Title"

10: 00 a.m., SD-192, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Dept. of Homeland Security hearing to examine Hurricane Sandy, focusing on response and recovery; progress and challenges.

Farm Journal Forum: The Election's Impact on Modern Agriculture's Ability to Feed the World, at the Washington Marriott


Thursday, December 6

Secretary Vilsack will address attendees at the Farm Journal Media conference in Washington, DC

9:30 a.m., 216 Hart Senate Office Building, Joint Economic Committee, Hearing on “Fiscal Cliff: How to Protect the Middle Class, Sustain Long-Term Economic Growth, and Reduce the Federal Deficit.”

10:30 a.m., Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security; Hearings to examine super storm Sandy, focusing on the devastating impact on the nation's largest transportation systems. SR-253   

Farm Journal Forum: The Election's Impact on Modern Agriculture's Ability to Feed the World, at the Washington Marriott


Friday, December 7


No events currently scheduled.




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