Thursday, September 22, 2011

Explanation of OOPS

Last night I made one of those errors of reporting that strikes humans every once-in-a-while, I didn’t fully understand what I was reporting about. I briefly amended that post explaining the mistake, but I didn’t go into much in the way of explanation.

HR 2608

On Tuesday evening the House Rules Committee met to write the rule for the floor consideration of HR 2608, the Small Business Program Extension and Reform Act of 2011, that had been amended and then passed in the Senate. There was nothing in the original bill nor the Senate version that would normally attract my attention in the way of chemical or cyber security measures, so I didn’t closely follow those proceedings (you can’t watch everything).

Between the time that the Rules Committee approved the rule for HJ Res 79 last week and the time of their HR 2608 hearings someone apparently discovered an issue with the wording of HJ Res 79. For various parliamentary reasons the appropriate changes could not easily be made to HJ Res 79 so an amendment in the form of a substitute was crafted for HR 2608 that would generally duplicate HJ Res 79 but correct those issues.

An explanation of that amendment explained that the difference between this amendment and HJ Res 79 included: “clarifies that the across-the-board cut should be applied to the amounts provided for discretionary advance appropriations, rather than to the “rate for operations” for advance appropriations to ensure that the Office of Management and Budget apportions the advance appropriations consistent with program requirements”. Legislatively this was a fairly minor issue, but for some agencies it could have meant serious, unintended budget cuts.

The Mistake

I missed all of this in my normal course of reviews of what goes on in that distant city of Washington. I did note in my original post that there was a news report about a vote on the CR, but there was no mention of a bill number in that report. That report raised a flag that did make me pause in making my post. I did check the House Clerk’s web site and the Thomas Library of Congress web site for information to verify the information that I reported, but I failed to check the House Rules Committee site.

I discovered my error when I looked at the Majority Leader’s web site for an advance look at today’s program in the House. Unfortunately, by that time I had already made my post about the death of HJ Res 79.

I briefly considered removing that post, but once something is put on the web it can’t really be removed. So I added a brief prefatory note to the post and left it at that.

Again, I’m sorry for the mistake and any possible confusion. I hope that this explanation sheds a little more light on how Congress works. That is one of the secondary purposes of this blog.

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