The debate on extending surveillance authorities under the Patriot Act has proven controversial in the 112th Congress, as Democrats have resisted Republican calls for an extension until 2017.
The House plans to take up a second national security bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012. The bill provides for $690 billion in funding for the Department of Defense and other national security programs.
This bill has come under criticism for including language affirming that the U.S. is in armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Democrats say passing this language is tantamount to congressional authorization for permanent war against these groups, and are expected to fight to strip it from the bill.
International security issues will be highlighted in particular on Tuesday, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers remarks to a joint meeting of the House and Senate. President Obama’s call for Israel to consider a peace agreement based on the concession of land Israel sees a vital to its security.
Also in the House, Republicans plan to take another crack at defunding a portion of last year's healthcare law. The House will vote on H.R. 1216, which would terminate $200 million in funding over the next decade that is now slated to fund training for graduate-level medical students.
Republicans object to the automatic funding of this program at a time of rising federal debt.
The budget battle is hardly forgotten, but it is still unclear when the Senate will allow a vote on the House budget bill for FY 2012. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants a vote to show the strength of opposition to the bill, but that vote is no longer expected to take place this week.
A closer look at the week ahead follows:
The House convenes at 2 p.m. and will hold votes on five non-controversial bills under a suspension of the rules. These bills are H.R. 1407, making cost-of-living adjustments for veterans; H.R. 1627, relating to the placing of monuments in Arlington National Cemetery; H.R. 1383, to maintain tuition payments for veterans; H.R. 1657, increasing penalties for claiming a company is owned and controlled by veterans; and H.R. 1893, to extend funding for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.
The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. and is expected to hold a cloture vote on a bill, S. 1038, extending Patriot Act surveillance techniques until June 1, 2015.
The House meets at 10 a.m., but recesses immediately and prepares for a joint meeting with the Senate to hear an address from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 11 a.m.
For the remainder of the week, the House will consider up to four bills -- House leaders had not set a specific schedule by Friday, May 20. Details on the four bills follow:
S. 990, to extend provisions of the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act. The Senate approved this bill, extending programs until May 31, 2012, late Thursday night.
H.R. 1216, which would scale back funding for graduate medical education. This bill would end more than $200 million in funding over the next decade.
H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012.
And fourth, an un-numbered bill to extend Patriot Act surveillance techniques. The House bill is expected to be identical to the one being considered in the Senate.
The House meets at 10 a.m. and begins ongoing legislative work at noon. The Senate could vote on the Patriot Act extensions.
The House meets at 9 a.m. for legislative work, and final votes are expected by 3 p.m.
The House is expected to meet in a pro forma session only, and the Senate is out.