Capitol Hill latest – from FNC Chad Pergram

Urgent: User’s Manual to Benghazi hearings and debt limit bill today

Per Pergram-Capitol Hill

Two big hearings with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today. First before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9 am then the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 2 pm. Lawmakers have wanted to hear from Clinton about Benghazi for months.

She had always been cooperative. But the first hearing in November went on without her as she was on diplatic travel. Another set of hearings for mid-December was postponed after Clinton developed the flu, fell, hit her head, sustained a concussion, developed a blood clot and was hospitalized.

We will stake out the hearings.

Expect the House panel to get right to business. Just opening statements from the chair and ranking member, then opening statement from Clinton and right to questions.

In the Senate, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) will not preside as President Obama has nominated him to succeed Clinton. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will wield the gavel.

On the House GOP’s debt ceiling bill….

This measure raises the debt limit through May 18 with no matching spending cuts. This is a significant departure for the House GOP which always called for requisite spending cuts, sometimes called the Boehner Rule.

Some conservatives don’t like this and will vote no. But you could have anywhere from 40-100 Democratic yeas.

In addition, the bill would suspend the pay of lawmakers….perhaps as long as through the November, 2014 election…unless both houses of Congress have approved a budget.

The 27th Amendment (ironically, engineered to passage in the mid-1990s by House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH), bans a a “varying” of Congressional pay…without an intervening HOUSE election. Some questioning whether escrowing the pay is even Constitutional. But regardless, lawmakers would be paid.

The House begins debate on the “rule” which sets the paramaters for debate shortly after 9 am. They go to general debate in late morning and a final vote in the noon hour or so.

Questions? Please call or email.

Chad Pergram
FOX News
Senior Producer for Capitol Hill