A closer look at next week: ObamaCare delays, filibusters and the nuclear option

In response, the House will likely pass two bills. The first would formally authorize the delayed enforcement of the employer health insurance and the second would delay the individual health insurance mandate.

The House may also consider the 2014 spending bill for the Defense Department, and a bill reauthorizing federal education programs to give more authority to the states.

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In the upper chamber, senators will hold procedural votes Tuesday on several Obama administration nominations, including some opposed by Senate Republicans, such as nominations to the National Labor Relations Board. Democrats are using these votes as a test of the GOP's willingness to advance Obama's nominations and have warned that GOP filibusters could lead to changes to the Senate's filibuster rules for Cabinet nominations.

Democrats are warning of using the "nuclear option," which would bypass filibuster rules to confirm nominees with just 51 votes instead of the usual two-thirds majority. Despite this threat, Senate Republicans and Democrats will meet Monday night in a rare joint session to discuss arguments for and against changing the rules, which might have the effect of settling things down.

Nominations will also be the subject of Senate committees this week, including the nomination of Samantha Power to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The Senate may use the week to discuss a plan for lowering student loan interest rates, after they doubled to 6.8 percent on July 1. Reid said last week that progress is being made on this issue, and it's possible that the Senate could move quickly if a compromised emerges.

The Senate is also expected to welcome a new member to the body: Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who won a special election to take the seat of Secretary of State John Kerry.

Committees in the House and Senate will hear testimony from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke on the Fed's semiannual report on monetary policy. Bernanke is expected to provide his economic outlook in hearings of the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday

The Senate starts at 2 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m. is expected to vote on a judicial nominee. This vote may be on Derek West, a nominee to be an associate Attorney General, but Senate Democrats had not confirmed this as of Friday.

At 6 p.m., Democratic and Republican senators will meet to discuss the state of Executive Branch nominations in the Senate and possible changes to the Senate filibuster on these nominations.

The House meets at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session only.

Tuesday

The Senate meets to hold a series of votes to end debate on seven nominees. The outcome of these votes may determine whether Senate Democrats announce changes to Senate filibuster rules.

The nominations are: Richard Cordray to be Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection; Richard Griffin, Sharon Block and Mark Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board; Fred Hochberg to be President of the Export-Import Bank; Thomas Perez to be Secretary of Labor; and Gina McCarthy to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The House meets at noon, and later in the afternoon it will consider three suspension bills:

H.R. 2576, amending title 49, United States Code, to modify requirements relating to the availability of pipeline safety regulatory documents,

H.R. 1848, the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, and

— H.R. 2611, naming the Coast Guard headquarters in Washington DC the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building.

Wednesday-Thursday

The House will consider the two bills delaying ObamaCare enforcement for a year. The two bills are:

H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act, authorizing a delay of the employer health insurance mandate, and

H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act, authorizing a delay of the individual health insurance mandate.

The House may also use the week to consider two other bills:

H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, which would reform federal education policy by giving states more flexibility in meeting educational goals, and

H.R. 2397, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2014, which sets a $512.5 billion base defense budget, about $3.4 billion less than 2013 levels.

The Senate is also in for the rest of the week, but with no firm plans past Tuesday. Some further discussion of the student loan issue is possible.

Friday

The House meets at 9 a.m. to finish any uncompleted work.

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