(LIN) — It was a short week for Congress this week. Both the House and Senate were out on Monday and Tuesday in observance of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. They resumed session on Wednesday, but they have little to show for it.
Here's what you might have missed in the headlines this week.
The big talker: Spending bill stopgap
A six-month stopgap spending bill advanced in the Senate Wednesday, allowing the government to stay open for another six months. The current budget ends Sept. 30, and without the stopgap, the government would be forced to shut down. While this measure doesn't resolve the current federal budget dilemma in Congress, it keeps that discussion away until after Election Day on Nov. 6. Most interesting about this stopgap spending bill advancing is Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) support. The spending bill costs whopping $19 billion higher than the vice-presidential GOP nominee's own budget, and Ryan's hearing quite a bit of criticism from Dems because of this. Ryan didn't deliver any remarks on the House floor on his decision to vote for the bill.
Farm bill stalls … again
Lawmakers could still not come to an agreement on new farm law requirements. The current law, which is set to expire Sept. 30, gives farmers subsidy payments and pays for food stamps, which make up about 80 percent of the law's current budget. In the past four years, the food stamp program has more than doubled in cost because of the number of people enrolled. This is due to both an increase in unemployment and Obama's expanded eligibility requirements. Now, Congress is tasked with cutting costs. The House and Senate can't seem to agree on how much to cut from food stamps, and if the bill expires, some commodities could go back to their 1949 prices for government buyback. Depending on what crops farmers produce, this could be a windfall or devastating loss. Wheat producers could see support of $7.80 a bushel instead of the current rate of $2.75, corn rates would double and dairy would triple. However, no price support would be given at all for sugar or soybeans as they weren't supported in 1949. (For more on commodities impact, follow this link.) Ahead of Election Day, the Farm Bill is affecting the Senate race in Montana and House races in Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado and Illinois.
No action on jobs bill for vets
A plan organized to put 1 million unemployed veterans to work stalled in the Senate Wednesday. The Veteran Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 ( H.R. 2433) was drafted to give states money to help provide education and training to veterans. How much? $1 billion over the next five years. The bill's main sponsor, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), is up for re-election this year. The bill's progress in the Senate came down to two major hiccups: Democrats couldn't quantify, exactly, how many jobs the bill would create, and Republicans could not see past the $1 billion price tag.
Suu Kyi gets Congress' highest honor
Aung San Suu Kyi was hailed as a heroine Wednesday as she was honored during the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony. Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has been a champion for democracy in Myanmmar. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. John McCain, former first lady Laura Bush, Sen. Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were just a few among many there to congratulate her on such a high honor.
Holder cleared, House Republicans not happy
Although the Justice Department's inspector general released a report this week clearing Attorney General Eric Holder of all implications in the Fast and Furious scandal, House Republicans still want to hold Holder accountable. Fast and Furious, the gunwalking operation organized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) came under scrutiny, as guns allowed to be placed in the hands of Mexican cartel members were later found at gruesome crime scenes and the aftermath of shootouts. ATF agents allowed the sale of firearms to illegal buyers initially in hopes to track them to cartel leaders. Of the more than 2,000 guns sold, only about 700 were recovered. House Republicans voted in June 2012 to hold Holder in contempt of Congress after Obama used executive privilege to not release documents related to the gunwalking operation.
Keeping up with Congress just got easier
The Library of Congress released a new search engine this week that will help navigate legislation online. The Library of Congress is merging THOMAS, its current platform, with a resource called the Legislation Information System. Together, anyone can intuitively search for legislation based on common search terms. The new search offers a more user-friendly approach, allowing visitors to search by informal names of legislation rather than having to know the formal letters. To take a test drive of the new system, visit beta.congress.gov.
DC Download is a week-in-review featuring the latest news from Capitol Hill published every Friday. Get the latest political news at onPolitix.com, and join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Right on cue, Thursday’s early winter storm dumped snow and ice on the Wabash Valley but county highway crews were a step ahead of the weather’s arrival pre-treating the 897 miles of pavement in the county.
A fire has engulfed the First Prairie Creek Church in Vigo County.
A four car accident in eastern Vigo County leaves one person dead.
Workers at a new eatery in Terre Haute are preparing to open.
Otter Creek Township is on its way to getting a new fire station.
Knox County Commissioner Don Halter is ahead of the game when it comes to winter weather preparedness. But the man-power may have a hard time running full throttle. The Knox County highway budget took big cuts in 2013.