ABC's Matt Jaffe reports: With only two weeks remaining before the Senate's August recess, the Senate has a lot of odds and ends to tie up, but not a lot of time left to do it. Still on the agenda is a campaign finance reform effort, a small business measure, FAA reauthorization, a final vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and a drastically scaled-back energy bill. But with Wall Street reform, the war supplemental, and unemployment benefits now out of the way and comprehensive climate change efforts put off until later this year, at least the schedule looks more manageable today than it did a week ago. First on the agenda this week will be the campaign finance bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote on Tuesday to proceed to debate on the DISCLOSE Act. However, the bill appears to be going nowhere in the Senate, especially after Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown recently said he would vote against the measure since it does not do “enough to require transparency, accountability, and fair play.” The bill, which passed the House of Representatives on June 24, would make special-interest groups disclose their top donors if they broadcast ads or blast out mass mailings in the months leading up to an election. But House Democrats granted certain exemptions for unions and prominent groups such as the NRA and the Sierra Club.
After that, the Senate appears set to move on to FAA reauthorization and a small business bill that would create a $30 billion lending facility and provide about $12 billion in tax relief. The Treasury-run fund on Thursday overcame a GOP filibuster by a vote of 60-37 when Republican Sens. George LeMieux and George Voinovich backed the measure. A final vote on the bill will likely come this week, although it could get put off to the following week. That leaves Kagan and energy for the first week in August, the last one before the chamber’s late-summer break. Last Thursday, Senate Democrats unveiled a scaled-back energy effort after they were unable to secure any Republican support for a more comprehensive measure. The proposal would revamp offshore oil drilling rules in an attempt to prevent repeat occurrences of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and also increase the liability cap for damage incurred from the spill. It would also invest in the Land & Water Conservation Fund, legislate the Home Star program to boost energy efficient houses and promote natural-gas vehicles in an attempt to reduce dependency on foreign oil. It is a far more limited bill than Democrats had hoped to pass this summer, but any hopes of securing sweeping cap & trade legislation were dashed when months of negotiating ended with no GOP member prepared to back the measure. Kagan’s nomination, meanwhile, passed out of the Judiciary Committee last Thursday by a vote of 13-6, with only one Republican – Sen. Lindsey Graham – supporting her. Since then two other GOP lawmakers – Sens. Dick Lugar and Susan Collins – have also announced they will vote for her, making her confirmation even more of a certainty than it appeared to be before her confirmation hearings.