A closer look at next week: Spending bills, energy, student loans

The bill should easily pass, but Republicans as of this week were still searching for a way to limit amendments dealing with Syria, Egypt and the National Security Agency. The GOP is hoping these sensitive issues can be addressed on other bills so the spending bill does not become controversial, but attempts to block amendments on these subjects failed this week in the House Rules Committee.

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Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday that he hopes the Senate can also start work on spending bills, so a final deal on 2014 spending can be sorted out. Next week, the Senate will consider its first bill of the year, on transportation and housing.

The bill spends $54 billion, compared to a House bill that spends $44 billion. That difference is a good example of the gap between House and Senate spending plans that is likely to make any deal on 2014 difficult to reach.

House Republicans may take up two energy bills that once again aim to ease federal regulations and help create jobs in the industry. And, the House may be in a position to pass a final agreement on how to keep federally backed student loan interest rates low, but only if the Senate can pass it first.

This week, a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement to peg loan rates on Treasury borrowing rates, plus 1.8 percent. The draft deal would cap the rate at 8.25 percent for most students, higher than the current 6.8 percent.

The chance that rates might increase above the current rate will likely make some Democrats balk, but others have said they can support the agreement.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday


The House meets at noon and will work on up to six suspension bills:

H.R. 697, the Three Kids Mine Remediation and Reclamation Act,

H.R. 1300, amending the Fish and Wildlife Act to reauthorize wildlife volunteer programs,

H.R. 1411, the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act,

H.R. 2353, amending U.S. law on the operation of vehicles on certain Wisconsin highways,

H.Con.Res. 44, authorizing use of the Capitol Grounds for the Olympic Torch Run, and

H.R. 1542, the WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act.

Also Monday, the House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet and may approve a rule for the Defense Department spending bill, H.R. 2397, and the transportation and housing and urban development spending bill, H.R. 2610.

The Senate is not in session.

Tuesday-Wednesday

The Senate meets at 10 a.m. Tuesday and will start work on S. 1243, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. At noon, senators will vote to end debate on the motion to proceed to the bill, and if cloture is invoked, senators will likely voice vote a motion to proceed to the bill.

The Senate is in for the rest of the week to work on this bill, and possibly work on the student loan bill. However, the Senate had no firm plans past Tuesday.

The House starts at noon each day, and is expected to work on the Department of Defense spending bill during these days. A few late nights are possible here as members work through amendments.

Members may also consider two energy bills:

H.R. 1582, the Energy Consumers Relief Act, preventing EPA from issuing regulations found to hurt the economy and job creation, and

H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, setting up a state-based program for managing coal residuals.

Thursday

The House starts at 9 a.m. and will finish up whatever remaining votes it has.

Friday


The House and Senate are not expected to be in.