A closer look at next week… Abortion, farm bill, immigration

The bill from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is the first real legislative reaction to the Dr. Kermit Gosnell trial, in which Gosnell was convicted of murder for aborting late-term fetuses and killing one pregnant mother.

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The measure is strongly opposed by Democrats, even though the House Rules Committee altered the language last week to allow for abortions in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is threatened.

After a rocky path, legislation setting U.S. farm policy for the next five years will also be considered on the floor next week. GOP complaints about the cost of the gigantic bill kept it off the floor last year, but comments this week from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in favor of giving the bill a vote will finally allow consideration.

The bill spends $940 billion over 10 years, and makes cuts to the federal food stamp program that Democrats will try to restore during debate. If the bill can pass over GOP complaints that it spends too much and Democratic complaints that it spends too little, the House and Senate will have a chance of finding a middle ground in a conference committee.

The Senate got off to a slow start this week on a bipartisan immigration bill, but will return to work on that legislation this week. So far, the Senate has rejected a Republican amendment aimed at boosting border security, a goal that many Republicans say they need to achieve before they can support the bill.

The language from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) technically didn't even get a vote — senators voted to "table" it, which prompted Grassley to charge that the Senate process is a "farce."

The Senate bill would give more than 11 million illegal U.S. residents a chance at legal status, and supporters insist that it will significantly boost border enforcement. Still, Republicans have said for weeks that the bill would be another amnesty-style mistake, like the one former President Reagan agreed to nearly 30 years ago.

On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee will hear testimony from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on his 2014 budget proposal. The meeting may also get into the pending jump in interest rates on federally backed student loans, from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.

This week, Republicans said they are working with the Obama administration — not the Senate — on a way forward to prevent this increase.

Also on Tuesday, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hear testimony from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on his department's science and technology priorities.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday

The House meets at noon, and will consider six suspension bills with any needed votes at 6:30 p.m. They are:

H.R. 876, the Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act,

H.R. 253, the Y Mountain Access Enhancement Act,

H.Res. __, amending the Senate-amended H.R. 588, the Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgement Act,

H.R. 520, the Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act,

H.R. 674, the Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act, and

H.R. 862, authorizing the conveyance of land in the Coconino National Forest.

The Senate meets at 2 p.m., and at 5 p.m. it will consider two nominations. One is Luis Restrepo to be a U.S. district judge for Pennsylvania, and the other is Ken Gonzalez to be a U.S. district judge for New Mexico.

After that, the Senate will continue to debate S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. Votes are possible throughout the week on various amendments to that bill.

Tuesday

In the afternoon, the House is expected to consider H.R. 1797, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protect Act, which would ban abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy. The House Rules Committee is expected to approve a rule for this bill on Monday, allowing Tuesday consideration.

As early as Tuesday, the House may start considering three other suspension bills. They are:

H.R. 1896
, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act,

H.R. 475, including influenza vaccines in the definition of taxable vaccines, and

H.R. 1151, directing the Secretary of State to develop a plan for Taiwan's observers status at the Civil Aviation Organization meeting.

Wednesday-Thursday

The House will use the bulk of these days to work on H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act. Consideration of amendments could lead to a late Wednesday night, but the House is expected to finish work on the bill by Thursday in the early afternoon.

Friday


The House and Senate are out.

--This report was updated on Saturday at 4:18 p.m.