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One Month Recess in U.S. House Begins After Marathon Session

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives began a one month hiatus after working all night Friday to wrap-up legislation. Congressional writer Alan Ota discusses some of the contentious legislation debated on before the break.

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    Members of the House of Representatives began their month-long summer vacation this weekend, but only after working all night Friday and early Saturday on some contentious legislation: pension reform; repeal of the estate tax; and a minimum-wage increase.

    Well, the House approved all of it, but whether any of it actually becomes law depends on what the Senate does this week.

    Joining us to help sort all this out is Alan Ota, senior writer at Congressional Quarterly.

    And, Alan, multimillion dollar estates, the minimum wage, and pensions all seem to be pretty separate areas of policymaking. How did they get so intertwined in the House's last week of work?

  • ALAN OTA, Congressional Quarterly:

    I think, probably for your viewers, it might seem obvious that maybe Congress could just put these three things together in one bill and pass it and be done with it, but unfortunately that's just not the way things work up on Capitol Hill.

    And so what has happened is that both parties are very energized about this coming election, as they prepare to go off on the August recess. And I think what you're seeing is that the Republican would like to turn these two bills into tough votes for Democrats, make them maybe vote against something that could be politically popular, such as the minimum wage, which is combined with a reduction in the estate tax.

    And on the other hand, Democrats, I think, are looking at this as a situation where they want to basically try to prevent Republicans from having victories. We've had a very difficult year in Congress where not much has been able to pass. They've been really disagreeing about so many priorities.

    They're going off into the August recess, the Republicans, and they want to — and the House Republicans want to stop an immigration bill, a very risky strategy to prevent that from passing. There's really not much Republicans have been able to accomplish. There is so much that is invested within these two bills, and that seems to be what the stakes are.

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