A closer look at next week…

But Senate Democrats will push for their own version of tax reform, one that they say will help close the budget deficit. Democrats will hold a vote Monday on a motion to proceed to a bill requiring a 30 percent minimum tax rate on all income earned above $1 million, known shorthand as the "Buffett rule."

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Consideration of these bills will be just the start of what is expected to be a spring and summer filled with tax reform discussion, particularly in the House, where Republicans will be exploring how to secure lower income tax rates and eliminating some tax deductions.

House Republicans will also put new pressure on Democrats to force the approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, by attaching approval to a bill that would extend federal highway programs for another three months.

Congress already extended highway funding through June. But House Republicans will offer an extension through the end of September (the end of the fiscal year), along with a separate title that would require approval of Keystone within 30 days.

Attached to this highway extension is language that would create a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, guaranteeing that 80 percent of the fines against BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are directed toward the Gulf. The House approved similar language back in February, in the form of an amendment to a bill encouraging oil shale development and oil drilling.

Also next week, the House will consider a bill easing rules related to the use of firearms on federal land. The Sportsman's Heritage act is a combination of several GOP bills, including one from Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) that would legalize the importation of polar bear trophies from Canada.

Committees in both the House and Senate will spend a few days holding hearings on wasteful spending at the General Services Administration (GSA), which was exposed by its own Inspector General for spending more than $800,000 on a 2010 conference in Las Vegas. House Republicans have spent the last two weeks slowly leaking news of the various forms of waste they have discovered, and appear ready to pounce on an agency that both parties have criticized.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday

The House returns at 2 p.m. to work on four suspension bills:

H.R. 3001, the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration act,

H.R. 1815, the Lena Horne Recognition act,

H.R. 4040, to give a gold medal to golfer Jack Nicklaus, and

H.R. 2453, the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin act.

The Senate meets at 2 p.m. and will resume debate on S. 2230, the Paying a Fair Share act, known loosely as the Buffett rule bill. Senators are expected to vote on a motion to proceed to the bill at around 5:30 p.m.

Also up for a vote is Stephanie Thacker to be a U.S. circuit court judge for the Fourth Circuit. The Senate is in for the rest of the week but has no definitive schedule beyond Monday.

Tuesday


The House meets at 10 a.m. for speeches and noon for legislative work, which should include consideration of H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen's Heritage act, which would ease the use of firearms on federal land. Members will consider the rule for the bill, then the bill itself.

Wednesday


The House meets again at noon for legislative work, and will take up H.R. 9, the Small Business Tax Cut act. Members will again start with the rule for that bill, then the bill itself and possible amendments.

Work is also expected on the 90-day extension for federal highway programs, along with approval of the Keystone pipeline.

Thursday

The House meets at 9 a.m. for legislative work, and will use this day to finish up any unfinished work from Wednesday. Last votes are expected at 3 p.m.

Friday

No House votes are expected.