Thursday: Online sales tax in the Senate, balloon jokes in the House

In the meantime, amendments to the bill are due by 1 p.m., and senators may begin discussing their amendments today on the floor.

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The House meets at noon to start work on H.R. 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act. The bill is meant to correct what is now seen as an error in a 1996 law that allowed the federal government to sell off its helium stocks at below market prices.

According to the House Natural Resources Committee, that law created a disincentive for private production. Further, government sales are expected to stop later this year — the combination of ending those sales at a time when an underdeveloped private market could create shortages.

The bill would fix this by providing for structured government sales of helium through auctions.

The bill may also bring out the worst in some members of Congress during the debate. Expect a heavy dose of puns about balloons, hot air, possibly even visual aids — could someone inhale helium and then speak in a high voice on the House floor? Sure, why not?

Members will start with the rule for the bill and approve it in the early afternoon. But consideration of amendments and final passage is not expected until Friday.

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Thursday: Lynch, cyber

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