Thursday: House to start work on federal pay freeze

The bill is a Republican response to Obama's December Executive Order, which said the pay hike would go through in late March, after the expiration of the current six-month continuing resolution. Democrats say the increase is a cost-of-living adjustment that federal workers are due after a two-year pay freeze.

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Republicans argue it's the wrong time to increase these salaries given the ongoing debt crisis — it would cost $11 billion over 10 years.

On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee approved a rule for the bill that makes no amendments in order, over the objections of House Democrats. The House is expected to approve the rule for the bill Thursday, and then pass the bill itself on Friday.

The Senate meets at 10 a.m., but may spend the day holding unstructured debate on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to become secretary of Defense.

Senate Republicans said they would not support his nomination until Hagel releases more information about speeches he gave to what some say are radical groups. If they don't relent, the Senate is scheduled to hold a vote to end debate on the nomination on Friday.