A closer look at next week: Immigration, NDAA, and a new senator

The bill meets the Democratic objective of putting at least 11 million people on a path toward U.S. citizenship. Democrats say that step is needed to validate the millions of undocumented people already living and working in the country.

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But many Republicans argue that the bill only promises action on their main concern: tougher border enforcement. Even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has worked with the bipartisan group on the bill, seemed to waver last week when he said the bill needs stronger border enforcement provisions before he can support it.

In the House, members are expected to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014. The bill passed out of committee authorizes $552 billion on national defense and $85.8 billion on overseas war operations, $2.7 billion less than last year's authorization.

The bill authorizes a 1.8 percent pay raise for members of the military and includes language aimed at reducing sexual assaults in the military. The Defense Department recently reported that sexual assault is on the rise, which outraged many members of Congress and even led Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to say he would not recommend that women join the military today.

Also, the bill calls on the Defense Department to report to Congress on how last year's attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, has affected its policy and its force posture.

Elsewhere, the Senate is expected to finish work on the $955 billion farm bill. And at some point in the week, the Senate will swear in a new senator: current New Jersey Attorney General Jeff Chiesa (R), who will temporarily fill the seat of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D).

Lautenberg died early Monday morning, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) decided to name a temporary replacement until the October special election.

All these events will take place amid the background noise of revelations about the National Security Agency's collection of phone and Internet records. Word of this operation puts Congress in a tight spot, as President Obama said Congress has been briefed on these activities for years.

Still, public knowledge of the depth of the government's intelligence gathering operations could lead to increased calls for paring back the law.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday

The Senate starts work at 2 p.m., and will continue to debate the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744. At 5 p.m., debate will shift to the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act, S. 954.

At 5:30 p.m., senators will vote on an amendment to the farm bill from Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), which would set up a pilot project for Internet projects in rural areas.

After that, the Senate should be in a position to vote on final passage of the farm bill. The Senate is in for the rest of the week, but with no definitive plans beyond broadly trying to advance the immigration bill.

The House is in at 3 p.m., but only for a pro forma session; no votes and no debate are planned.

Tuesday

The Senate starts at 10 a.m. with more debate on the immigration bill. Immediately after they return from their usual Tuesday lunch, senators will vote to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill — 60 votes will be needed, and this vote will serve as a first test for the bill.

The Senate is in for the rest of the week, much of which will be used on the immigration bill, assuming the bill survives that first procedural vote.

The House is in at noon, and in the afternoon it will start work on up to five suspension bills, all of which deal with land use. Any required votes will happen at 6:30 p.m. The bills are:

H.R. 251, the South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act, directing the Secretary of the Interior to convey federal features of the electric distribution system to the South Utah Valley Electric Service District.

H.R. 993, the Fruit Heights Land Convenyance Act, conveying federal land to Fruit Heights, Utah.

H.R. 1157, the Rattlesnake Mountain Public Access Act, ensuring public access to Rattlesnake Mountain summit.

H.R. 1158, the North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking Act, maintaining fish stocking in various lakes.

H.R. 723, the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act, to study the addition of several rivers to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Wednesday-Thursday

The House starts at 10 a.m. on both days, and will use these days to do most of the work passing H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act.

Another bill that will be considered under a rule is H.R. 1256, the Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act. This bill directs the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to adopt a formal rule on cross-border swaps transactions.

Members will also consider up to four more suspension bills:

H.R. 634, the Business Risk Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act, exempting entities that use financial derivatives products to hedge risk — as opposed to speculators — from margin requirements under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

H.R. 2167, the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act, authorizing the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to set up requirements to boost the safety and soundness of reverse mortgages.

H.R. 742, the Swap Data Repository and Clearing house Indemnification Correction Act, repealing the indemnification requirements for regulatory authorities to obtain access to swap data. We'll know what that means by next week.

H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act, giving utilities the ability to buy energy from other producers, to help keep electricity rates down.

Friday


The House starts at 9 a.m. and is expected to finish up any remaining votes by the early afternoon.