But it's unclear how much of Obama's speech will be used by Congress as a guide to future work. The Senate could well try to translate some of Obama's proposals into legislation, but passing a bill in the Senate is still difficult, even with 55 Democrats in the upper chamber for the 113th Congress.

In the House, Republicans are likely to give Obama the cold shoulder. For the last few weeks, the GOP has charged that Obama and the Democrats are still looking to solve the country's fiscal woes with more tax revenues, and continue to dodge spending cuts.

Just this week, Republicans rejected Obama's proposal to agree to a short-term delay in the sequester.

More generally, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio) has flatly said he no longer wants to negotiate with Obama on big issues like the pending sequester and the debt ceiling, and would rather have policy decisions run through the House and Senate. That's a recipe for the House doing what it wants, and then pushing the Senate to offer up its own suggestions.

Next week, the House "doing what it wants" means consideration of a bill that would freeze Obama's proposed pay hike for federal workers. The GOP says it's the wrong time for a pay hike, given the state of the government's finances.

Democrats have already argued that Obama's proposal is a cost-of-living adjustment that is now two years overdue, and that the problem of deficit reduction should not fall only on the backs of federal workers.

The Senate will continue work on a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Last week, the Senate rejected a Republican alternative to the bill that was aimed at reducing waste, fraud and abuse in the program, and addressing GOP complaints that language allowing Indian courts to try non-Indians accused of domestic violence violates the Constitution.

There are six more amendments to be debated, and the Senate could finish work on the bill as early as Tuesday.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:


The Senate starts work at 2 p.m., and will resume work on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, S. 47.

Senators reached an agreement to allow for a vote on Grassley's amendment, and up to six others. They are from:

— Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle McConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Nielsen acknowledges Trump used 'tough language' in immigration meeting MORE (D-Vt.), authorizing spending to broaden efforts to stop human trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act through 2017,

— Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 MORE (R-Ohio), clarifying that child victims of sex trafficking can receive services under the bill,

— Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSessions torched by lawmakers for marijuana move Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy Trump's executive order on minerals will boost national defense MORE (R-Alaska), giving Indian courts the authority to enforce civil restraining orders against abusers, and

— Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnRepublicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks Republicans should know reviving earmarks is a political nightmare Former GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder MORE (R-Okla.), who has three amendments. They would remove language allowing tribal courts to have jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit a domestic violence crime, eliminate duplicative programs in the Department of Justice, and allow for the testing of assailants for sexually transmitted diseases.

The House is out.


The House meets at noon for speeches, then at 2 p.m. to start work on three suspension bills. No votes are expected, and any roll-call votes needed will occur on Wednesday or later. The bills are:

H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, which is meant to ease federal regulations to promote hydropower generation in rivers across the country.

H.R. 316, the Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act, allowing towns in Connecticut to use dams to generate hydropower.

H.R. 235, the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act. This will gives grants to states that streamline the requirements veterans with a medical background must meet to become civilian emergency medical technicians. The House was originally scheduled to take up this bill last week.

The Senate is in, and could finish work on the VAWA reauthorization bill today. Senators are in for the rest of the week but with no definite plans beyond Tuesday.

The House will recess by 5:30 p.m. in order for a security sweep of the chamber to prepare for Obama's State of the Union. Members of the House and Senate will reconvene at about 8:30 p.m., and Obama's speech will start at 9 p.m.


The House meets at 10 a.m. for speeches and at noon for legislative work, and will take up H.R. 273. This bill would block Obama's executive order that will allow a 0.5 percent increase in the pay of federal workers.

Members will also consider one suspension bill, H.R. 592, the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act. This bill would allow churches and other houses of worship to receive disaster aid.


The House is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., and will use the day to finish any unfinished work from the week. Last votes are expected by the middle of the day.