House, Senate wrap up first session of 113th Congress

The House and Senate on Friday quickly and quietly ended their work in the first session of the 113th Congress, setting the stage for the second session of what many have branded as a "do-nothing" Congress given the vast and often intractable differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) opened the House today at 11 a.m., but he quickly and with no comment adjourned it until noon. That was the last act of the House in the first session. The Senate also met today at 11:45 a.m. to close out the session, an act over which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) presided.

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At noon, both the House and Senate gaveled in the second session, and then immediately adjourned until next week. The Senate returns Monday, and the House is back Tuesday.

Second sessions of Congress are typically less busy legislatively, as members become preoccupied with the coming election. This year the House will take most of October off, and return about a week after the Nov. 4 election.

Much of the important work of the year will be front-loaded. Republicans and Democrats seem to be on track to passing an omnibus appropriations bill providing for spending for the rest of fiscal year 2014. Congress will have to pass that by mid-January in order to avoid another shutdown.

Congress will also have to figure out what to do with the debt ceiling. The ceiling was suspended until early February, and House Republicans have said they want more spending cuts in exchange for another suspension or increase in the ceiling.

After that, issues like an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, the farm bill, and immigration will occupy members. House Republicans will also continue to push legislation related to ObamaCare. Next week, the GOP will call up a bill that would require the government to disclose security breaches for data entered into HealthCare.gov.

— This story was updated at 12:07 p.m.