The House and Senate return to work next week, each pursuing its own agenda with no guarantee that their effort will considered in the other chamber.
In other words, it's a new year, but not much has changed.
House Republicans will again work to subdue two areas of the government that occupied so much of its time in 2013 — ObamaCare and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Another bill up next week would require the government to issue weekly reports on how the website is working and how many people have used and have enrolled in a healthcare plan. Republicans in particular have complained that the administration has been keeping these statistics secret since early October.
GOP leaders will also call up legislation requiring the EPA to consult with states before imposing potentially overlapping regulations on solid waste disposal. It would also require the EPA to live up to state-level requirements on hazardous substances.
The Senate has its own plans, and will start work on legislation that would extend the emergency unemployment benefits that expired December 28 through March. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said this would be his first order of business in the new year.
House Republicans have indicated that they oppose an extension of these benefits, which were first put in place in 2008 in the wake of the financial crisis. However, the Senate bill is supported by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.0, and there is some chance that Senate passage of the bill could start a debate in the House on how to pay for an extension.
Over the break, some Democrats expressed a willingness to find offsets, which could make a deal possible. Democrats are expected to prefer tax increases to pay for it, rather than spending cuts, which could make it difficult to find an agreement.
The Congressional Budget Office said earlier this week that the bill would add $6.4 billion to the deficit.
The Senate starts at 2 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m. it will hold two roll call votes. One will be on the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chair of Federal Reserve Board — senators agreed in December to postpone her final confirmation vote until early January, and a simple majority vote gets her the job.
The other vote will be to end debate on a bill extending emergency unemployment through March. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, S. 1845, was proposed by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) in December, and 60 votes are needed to advance the bill.
The House is out.
The House starts at 2 p.m. Tuesday, when it will hold a quorum call to start the second session of the 113th Congress. No legislative votes are expected today.
The Senate is in, and is likely to consider the unemployment bill for the rest of the week, as well as other Executive Branch nominations.
The House starts at 10 a.m. for speeches, and then noon for legislative work on up to three suspension bills. They are:
— H.R. 724, amending the Clean Air Act to eliminate a requirement that dealers of new light-duty vehicles certify to buyers that the vehicles conform to emissions standards,
— H.R. 3527, the Poison Center Network Act, reauthorizing national poison control centers, the national toll-free number, and related state grants, and
— H.R. 3628, the Transportation Reports Elimination Act, which would eliminate and consolidate reporting requirements of the Department of Transportation and other agencies.
The House meets at noon for work on one bill:
— H.R. 2279, the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, which is the EPA-related bill mentioned above. Members will vote on a rule for this bill, then the bill itself.
The House starts at 9 a.m., and will work on two bills:
— H.R. 3362, the Exchange Information Disclosure Act, which would require weekly reports on the implementation of ObamaCare through the operation of the HealthCare.gov website, and
— H.R. XX, the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act, which would require the govenrment to tell people when information they supplied to the HealthCare.gov website has been compromised. As of Friday, this bill had not been assigned a number.