WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 - The U.S. House of Representatives returns from its break on Tuesday to a political environment that’s largely unchanged from December. With the next presidential election just 10 months away, the second session of the 112th Congress promises to provide more high profile fights between Republicans and Democrats, with little room for compromise.


Both sides, of course, are blaming the others. Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said one reason why Congress has a disapproval rating at 66 percent is because he’s had “obstructionism on steroids” and blamed Republicans ------ especially Tea Party members --- for the lack of consensus.


“Legislation's the art of working together, building consensus, compromise, and I hope that the tea party doesn't have the influence in this next year they had in the previous year. That--because it has been really bad for this country. And I understand, I repeat, why the American people feel the way they do,” Reid explained.


But MTP Host David Gregory pointed out that Reid runs the Senate and the upper body hasn’t  put together a budget in a year, while the GOP-run House has been moving bills forward ---only to see them die in the Senate. Reid struggled to explain how the political climate might change in 2012.


In fact, the House plans to take up H.J. Res. 98 this week, a resolution disapproving President Obama’s request to increase the federal debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion. But even if the House approves the resolution, as expected, the Senate would also need to follow suit. And Sen. Reid is not likely to even consider the measure.


U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told the New York Times on Sunday that he’ll be working to get all of his fellow GOP members on the same page this year.


In the new session, Boehner told the Times: “we will have continued, relentless focus on getting our economy moving again and getting the American people back to work.”


“High on the agenda is a bill to remove many regulations on American energy production, with projected new revenues from domestic production to be used to improve infrastructure,” the Times reported.


For more hearings, events and reports this week:

Monday, January 16

Martin Luther King Day

Secretary Vilsack will speak to Rainbow PUSH to highlight USDA advancements on Civil Rights and the Obama administration’s settlement of the Pigford lawsuit in Chicago, IL


Secretary Vilsack will lead a media roundtable on the Obama Administration’s aviation biofuels efforts in Chicago, IL. Business leaders from Boeing, Honeywell and United will also be in attendance   


Tuesday, January 17

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will announce a partnership between USDA, EPA and the state of Minnesota to bolster agricultural conservation efforts in St. Paul, MN

5:00 p.m. Hearing: H.J. Res. 98 - Relating to the disapproval of the President's exercise of authority to increase the debt limit, House Committee on Rules: Full Committee

Wednesday, January 18

9:30 a.m. Hearing: Examining the Impact of the Volcker Rule on Markets,Businesses, Investors and Job Creation, House Committee on Financial Services: Joint Committee Hearing: Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises

10:00 a.m. Markup: Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011, House Committee on Ways and Means: Full Committee

Thursday, January 19

Deputy Secretary Merrigan will speak to the Food Policy Task Force during the Washington, DC, meeting of the US Conference of Mayors. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino chairs the task force


Friday, January 20

Deputy Secretary Merrigan will speak at the National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment in Washington, DC


Saturday, January 21

Deputy Secretary Merrigan will speak at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in Little Rock, AR.




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