THURSDAY'S BIG STORY:
In the hopper: The Senate on Thursday will start trying to figure out when it will tackle a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill after the House easily passed the measure on Wednesday.
The bill funds the government through September and takes the chance of another shutdown off the table.
The House voted 359-67 to pass the bill, which was opposed by 64 Republicans and three Democrats.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he was surprised by the strong vote.
“I'm almost giddy,” he said. “I think it's a really good demonstration of trying to work across the aisle and across the dome.”
Rogers is hoping that lawmakers can get back on a path to regular order and get spending bills passed before the next fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.
"The December budget agreement and this bill sets us on a path to fulfilling our basic responsibility of the annual spending bills," said ranking Appropriations committee member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
The government has been running on a series of stopgap measures since the 2012 omnibus passed in late 2011.
The Senate has until Saturday to pass the bill before a short-term funding bill expires.
Now it will be up to the leaders to figure out how fast they can move the measure through the Senate with enough votes for passage.
WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING
TPA time: The Senate Finance Committee will begin work Thursday on a bill that provides guidance from Congress to the White House in negotiating trade agreements.
The trade promotion authority (TPA) measure, introduced a week ago, is facing a swarm of Democratic opposition, especially from the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.).
The legislation, backed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and panel ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), is designed to help smooth the passage of trade deals once they reach Capitol Hill.
Levin wants the legislation to provide a specific framework for congressional involvement in the negotiating process. He is arguing the measure doesn't go far enough to ensure Congress wouldn't get left behind in the process and would be left only with a say of what is included in any global agreements toward the end of trade talks.
Still, House Democrats say that the White House is ramping up their discussions on its trade agenda and, so far, those talks have been very constructive.
Economic focus: The Joint Economic Committee on Thursday will keep the focus on the nation's economic situation in what is shaping up as a focus of this year's midterm elections. The panel will chat with economists, including former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, about the nation’s growing income inequality.
Fed role: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose term ends this month, will deliver remarks on Thursday about the lessons learned by the central bank during the recession and the challenges it faces going forward, which will include the continued winding down of its massive stimulus plan.
Financial reform future: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will talk about the U.S. economy, the international agenda and the next steps for financial reform in a speech on Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Push for a renewal: House and Senate Democrats will make another push for Congress to restore federal jobless benefits for those who have been out of work for at least six months. The benefits expired Dec. 28, and Democrats argue that the expiration of the program now affects 1.5 million of those workers.
On Thursday, unemployed workers and advocacy groups from across the country will be delivering petitions collected by groups including the AFL-CIO, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, MoveOn.org and USAction to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling for a renewal of the program when Congress returns from a weeklong break at the end of January.
Initial Claims: The Labor Department will release its weekly claims for first-time jobless benefits.
Consumer Price Index (CPI): The Labor Department releases its December report measuring the prices of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. CPI is the most widely cited inflation indicator and it is used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for government programs.
NAHB Housing Market Index: The National Association of Home Builders will release its January survey that gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Obama fills out his second-term Cabinet with SBA nominee
— Poll: More people report being worse off financially
— Agriculture chairman cites progress on farm bill compromise
— Volcker Rule fight drags on
— Senate passes stopgap bill to prevent shutdown
— CEOs give Washington their 2014 wish list
— Unions pleased with blue-collar pay hike in omnibus
— Camp makes populist case for tax reform
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