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 BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' 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 LeahyDem senator asks for 'top to bottom' review of Syria policy A guide to the committees: Senate Verizon angling to lower price of Yahoo purchase: report MORE (D-Vt.), authorizing spending to broaden efforts to stop human trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act through 2017,

— Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanConquering Trump returns to conservative summit ­ObamaCare fix hinges on Medicaid clash in Senate A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Ohio), clarifying that child victims of sex trafficking can receive services under the bill,

— Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiGOP governors confront Medicaid divide GOP senator won't vote to defund Planned Parenthood A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Alaska), giving Indian courts the authority to enforce civil restraining orders against abusers, and

— Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways Rethinking taxation 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.