A closer look at next week…

If Friday was any signal, it should go a lot easier than the sequester talks went. President Obama and congressional leaders in both parties left their Friday meeting in seeming agreement that the last thing the country needs now is a government shutdown.

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Still, one point of contention could surface, related to how the House deals with the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the GOP would pass a bill that gives those departments more deference in how to spend their money for the rest of the fiscal year, partly to let them start new programs.

That's a privilege other departments won't get. Democrats this week were already arguing that this appears to be a way to make it easier for DOD to handle the spending sequester, which took effect today.

That could be a sign that the Democratic Senate might seek to change the bill, although the Senate reaction won't be known until later in the month.

The Senate has a very light week of floor work, and might only deal with a few judicial nominations and possibly the nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director.

On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote on a resolution outlining Senate committee budgets for the rest of the year.

Off the floor, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a markup of legislation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would reinstate the assault weapons ban. That markup is likely to lead to floor consideration later in the month.

In the House, a subcommittee will hold a hearing that aims to reorient the conversation to the link between gun violence and mental illness. Several Republicans have argued that the focus of Democrats is only on guns, but not mental illness.

One Republican, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), has called for tighter rules on violent TV shows, movies and video games in response to last year's shootings, and said it is too easy for Democrats to only focus on gun makers.

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual policy conference starts on Sunday, and as usual it will feature remarks from key members of the House and Senate.

Cantor and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will speak at the event, as will Vice President Biden, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday

The House meets at noon, and will start legislative work at 2 p.m. The only bill up that day is the Senate-amended H.R. 307, which would reauthorize several federal programs aimed at ensuring the U.S. is prepared for biological, chemical or other disasters or attacks.

This is a suspension bill that will require a two-thirds majority vote, but it should pass easily as the House has already approved a similar version earlier this year.

The Senate meets at 2 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m. is expected to vote on two judicial nominations: Pamela Chen to be a district judge for the Eastern District of New York, and Katherine Failla to be a district judge for the Southern District of New York.

Tuesday

The House starts work at noon, and will take up two suspension bills:

H.R. 668, which would require the president's budget submissions to Congress to estimate the amount of the deficit per taxpayer, and

H.R. 338, which would apply tobacco smuggling rules to the U.S. territories.

The Senate is expected to vote on a resolution, S.Res. 64, which authorizes committee expenditures for the rest of fiscal year 2013.

The Senate is in for the rest of the week, but has no firm plans after Tuesday. The Senate could, however, use one day to consider the Brennan nomination.

Wednesday-Thursday


The House starts at noon Wednesday on the continuing resolution for the rest of 2013. As of Friday, the resolution did not exist, but Republicans had named it the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act.

Friday


The House is not in session.