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Washington Briefing
   January 25, 2013
House Passes Debt Ceiling Bill

The House on Wednesday passed a bill to allow the federal government to keep borrowing money until the middle of May. The bill passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 285-144.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate will pass the House bill without changes, and the White House has said it will not block the legislation from becoming law.

The House-passed bill would require both the House and Senate to pass a budget, and if either chamber fails to pass a budget by April 15, members of that chamber would not be paid.

Senate Moves to Limit Use of Filibuster

The Senate on Thursday voted on a deal regarding the use of the filibuster - the parliamentary procedure that has become synonymous with gridlock in the upper chamber.

While the Senate voted to keep the chamber's long-standing, 60-vote threshold for halting a filibuster, it agreed to provide two ways to begin to quickly debate legislation.

One would occur if the Senate Majority Leader allowed both Republicans and Democrats to offer two amendments each to legislation. If amendments were not relevant to the bill, they would be subject to a 60-vote threshold.

For non-controversial bills, if both the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders agree, votes to overcome filibusters would happen the day after Reid files a procedural motion - instead of the two-day rule that exists now. When the filibuster is defeated in those situations, the Senate could immediately begin debate, rather than wait the 30 hours now required.

The plan also prevents the blocking of noncontroversial presidential nominations by reducing - from 30 hours to eight hours - the time to debate sub-Cabinet and District Court nominations after a filibuster has been defeated.

The rules change also reduces the number of filibusters from three to one that could be waged to prevent conferences from convening with the House and would limit debate time to two hours.

Most of the provisions sunset at the end of the 113th Congress.

In case you missed it...

Roby to lead Armed Services subcommittee
Al.com (Enoch, 1/22) reports, "The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee named Rep. Martha Roby as chairperson of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Tuesday. 'I'm grateful for the opportunity and responsibility to chair the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations,' Roby said in a press release from her office. 'It is a tremendous honor to chair a subcommittee, particularly one so critical to ensuring our military operates with efficiency and effectiveness.'"

Roby calls on Senate to pass budget following House vote
Al.com (Enoch, 1/23) reports, "U.S. Rep. Martha Roby called on the U.S. Senate to pass a responsible budget, following a House vote Wednesday to temporarily suspend the government's borrowing limit to avoid a default. 'Families do it. State legislatures do it. City councils do it. Even student councils do it. Yet, for four years, the Senate has failed to pass a budget,' said Roby, R-Montgomery, in a prepared statement following the vote. 'It's beyond irresponsible; it's downright reckless, and it ends now.' Roby was among the representatives who voted for the measure in a 285-144 vote Wednesday."

Brooks questions Clinton in House hearing over Benghazi deaths
Al.com (Gattis, 1/23) reports, "U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, took part [Wednesday] in the questioning of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  during a House hearing over the death of four Americans in a Libyan uprising last year. The exchange between Brooks and Clinton was televised live by CNN. Specifically, Brooks asked about testimony U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice gave about the incident. Rice testified that the attack that killed Chris Stevens, ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans was a spontaneous event."


Aderholt supports raising debt ceiling, cites no pay for Congress
The Huntsville Times (Gattis, 1/23) reports, "In casting a vote to temporarily suspend the federal debt ceiling today, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt emphasized a provision that also suspended pay for Congress until a budget is passed. The bill cleared the House with bipartisan support  and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week, The Washington Post reported. Aderholt stressed the part of the bill that pressures Congress to pass a budget rather than the GOP relenting on suspending the debt ceiling."

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