Tuesday: Nuclear winter

First of all, it's snowing.

Washington, D.C., could get up to 6 inches of snow by the afternoon, and that prediction has already closed the federal government for the day.

The weather could end up forcing the House and/or Senate to scale back its work schedule today. As of 8:30 a.m., however, nothing had been announced, and both chambers were planning to keep up their regular work.

In the Senate, that means more consideration of Obama administration nominees under the so-called "nuclear option." In less apocalyptic terms, that means advancing and voting on nominees without giving Republicans a chance to block them through a procedural vote that requires a 60-vote majority — Democrats invoked this option last month, despite warnings from Republicans that this choice will do irreparable damage to the Senate.

Today, the Senate plans to use the same procedure to advance the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to be the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. First, senators will consider a motion to proceed to reconsider a prior vote on Watt by which the Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to end debate.

After that, the Senate will vote on the motion to reconsider that cloture vote, and then, the Senate will vote again to end debate on Watt's nomination. Only a simple majority will be needed here, and assuming that majority is there, this vote will trigger up to eight hours of debate on Watt's nomination.

These votes are expected by mid-morning, but the Senate will start shortly after 10 a.m. by holding a vote on the nomination of Patricia Millett to be a D.C. Circuit Court judge. Millett's vote was expected to take place Monday, but Senate Democrats postponed the vote because an ice storm kept many senators from returning to Washington.

Millett's nomination was already advanced through the Democrats' first use of the "nuclear option" just before the Thanksgiving break.

On Monday, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion to end debate on 10 other nominees, many of which will get votes later this week and next week.

The House starts at noon, and in the afternoon it will consider up to three suspension bills. They are:

— H.R. 3521, the Department of Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Lease Authorization Act;

— S. 1471, the Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act;

— H.R. 1402, the VA Expiring Authorities Extension Act