Capitol Hill (CNN) - Top Republicans and Democrats are spending most of the day criticizing or supporting the President, questioning or applauding the Libya mission and attacking or undermining each other when it comes to a possible government shutdown.
Don't let the heated air distract you from the actual work, the real votes happening in Congress today.
Here are two votes that will hit the House floor Tuesday that many others will miss:
1. To Kill the President's Home Loan Program
The Bill: H.R. 839, The HAMP Termination Act of 2011
Read it: Here.
What it Does: This would end the Obama administration's home loan modification program, aimed at preventing foreclosures. The program is known by its acronym, HAMP. (The government would continue help for those already in HAMP, but no new homeowners could get assistance.)
Length: 8 pages
Sponsor: Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina and 8 cosponsors.
Why You Should Care: This bill and the program it would end focus on one of the central problems in the economy now, and one of the main causes for the Great Recession to begin with: housing. With this vote, Congress is addressing how to deal/how not to deal with the continued housing crisis.
The Politics Here: Conservatives (and some on the left, like Ezra Klein) charge that HAMP has been, at best, a wasted effort. They say it has helped relatively few homeowners stay out of foreclosure and may have hurt thousands of others with temporary modifications that did not last. Its most sharp critics contend HAMP is a scheme to pay off banks to modify loans and massage foreclosure statistics. Supporters of HAMP say it may not have reached as many homeowners as expected but has made a difference for hundreds of thousands of struggling families.
2. To Extend Taxes on Air Travel and Fund Airport Improvements
The Bill: H.R. 1079, Airport and Airway Extension Act
Read it: Here.
What it Does: This bill extends taxes on air travel through May 31st. (The taxes that go into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.) It also authorizes airports to spend some $2.5 bllion on improvements, with the assumption that Congress will appropriate the money later.
Length: 5 pages.
Sponsor: Rep. John Mica, R-Florida, and four cosponsors, two Republicans and two Democrats.
Why You Should Care: A few reasons. The Airport and Airway Trust Fund, or AATF, includes a 7.5 percent tax on commercial passenger tickets (according to the Air Transport Association, which represents the airlines). It also taxes jet fuel and other aspects of flight. At the same time, it funds airport and FAA infrastructure throughout the country. One more reason? This is the latest punt by Congress. Another short-term extension of what seems to be a very long-term infrastructure plan and tax.
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