The House forges ahead today with debate on the spending bill to run the government and slice $100 billion from the budget. The House was in session until 1:20 this morning and could go as late today if not later. The plan is to finish this bill Thursday by 3 p.m. But there are some rattlings on the GOP side of the aisle from senior sources who seem very skeptical of that.
Also, to make floor management a little tougher, the Senate approved a different version of the Patriot Act extension last night...meaning this has to come back to the House. So the House will tangle with the Patriot Act for the third time in less than a week and a half soon.
This is a three month extension of the PATRIOT Act. The House has to act on this, because otherwise, key provisions of the Patriot Act would sunset at the end of the month.
I am told by a senior source that we WILL NOT do the Patriot Act today. Probably tomorrow. But they will consider the rule (which governs how they will consider the Patriot Act on the floor) around noonish today.
A couple of things to watch for...
This afternoon around 1ish...the House will have a long series of votes on amendments. We expect the first vote (though not yet confirmed) to be on an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., This is one of the most fascinating and contentious amendments in the mix. Rooney and other supporters of Pratt and Whitney want to strike funding for a backup engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.
They debated the amendment late last night. One of the most ardent supporters of the Pratt and Whitney engine is House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., who has a major Pratt and Whitney plant in his district just outside of Hartford.
Cutting the second engine (which would be built by GE and Rolls Royce) would save $450 million this year and $3 billion over the next decade.
What's interesting is this has put pro-GE lawmakers at odds with fiscal conservatives. Namely House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio,...who has a GE plant about 15 minutes from his house. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., also favors the second engine.
When this came to the floor last year, Boehner and Cantor voted in favor of the GE engine.
At a hearing this morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the House Armed Services Committee that he wanted to cut the program for the second engine.
In addition, President Obama threatened to veto the entire defense bill last year if the second engine was in it. He didn't because it never got to his desk as a standalone measure.
I am told by senior House sources that they are unclear how this amendment could play out today.
Also, we have a presser today with pro-public broadcasting lawmakers. There will be an amendment offered later today to restore funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In tow with the lawmakers will be the muppets. Remember, the Hill hath no fury like a Muppet scorned. See what happened during the fight over public broadcasting in 1995.
Also at some point in the next 24 hours, expect Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., to offer his amendment to peel back funding for the health care law. This is somewhat different than the amendment authored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and should be made in order under this process. The other night, King was asking the Rules Committee for a waiver to give his anti-health care amendment special protection on the floor. The Rules Committee rejected King's efforts.