Energy policy remains the dominant issue as Congress moves to break for August, but other legislation still scurries about, looking for expanded opportunities to litigate.
- The House did pass H.R. 4040, the consumer product safety bill, last evening by a vote of 424-1. (Yes, it was Ron Paul voting no.) Expect Senate action tomorrow.
- Today on the House floor is H.R. 1338, the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation supporters say will overcome gender disparity in wages. The mechanism? Regulation, studies, and lawsuits. The White House's Statement of Administration Policy, which says the President would veto the bill, highlights the bill's removal of caps on punitive damages. It's quite a SAP. Heritage Foundation's James Sherk also examines the bill: " The Act gives a windfall to trial lawyers, exposing employers to unlimited punitive damages for unintentional mistakes. Any financial benefits reaped by trial lawyers, however, will come at the expense of workers, whose wages will fall in order to cover the increased cost of legal liability insurance."
- Anti-arbitration legislation is moving. The House Judiciary Committee yesterday reported out H.R. 6126, the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act, which vitiates pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. Senate Judiciary marks up the Senate companion bill, S. 2838, this morning. (UPDATE -- 10:40 a.m.: Republicans are asking the bill to be held over.)
- News accounts report that the Senate's failure yesterday to invoke cloture on S. 2035, the Free Flow of Information Act, means the media shield bill is probably dead for the session. (San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal.)