This week: Hobby Lobby, roads grab spotlight

The House this week will consider legislation to replenish the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015, while the Senate will debate a bill to overturn the recent Supreme Court decision exempting some employers from providing insurance coverage for contraception.

The Highway Trust Fund is projected to go bankrupt in August absent congressional action.

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The proposal crafted by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) would be offset with about $6.4 billion in revenue from pension smoothing, another $3.5 billion from customs user fees and a final $1 billion from an account set up to deal with leaking underground storage tanks.

Transportation funding has long been sourced by the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax. But the tax has remained stagnant since 1993 and transportation has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades, and now funding no longer keeps up with current infrastructure expenses.

Both the House and Senate appear to be on track to pass a stopgap measure before adjourning for the August recess.

Hobby Lobby

The Senate is expected to vote on legislation to reverse the Supreme Court decision allowing religious institutions to opt out of providing coverage for birth control.

Democrats have seized on the issue ahead of the midterm elections, hoping that women voters opposed to the court's decision will turn out for their party in November.

But like many other Senate Democratic initiatives this year, the Hobby Lobby bill is expected to fall short of the 60-vote threshold to move forward. Even if it were to pass the upper chamber, it would have no chance in the GOP-controlled House.

Appropriations

The House will take up the fiscal 2015 Financial Services appropriations bill, which provides funding for the Internal Revenue Service, Wall Street enforcement agencies and federal payments for the District of Columbia. It is one of the most contentious of the annual 12 appropriations bills, and will likely attract many amendments.

After it passes, the House will be more than halfway through its consideration of the 12 appropriations bills for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. But the Senate has yet to pass a single one, due to a disagreement over amendments. A stopgap measure to keep the government running through the midterm elections appears likely.

Asked whether the House would consider more appropriations bills after Financial Services, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said only, "We'll see."

Terrorism risk insurance

Both the House and Senate are set to consider legislation to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which covers expenses if cities are attacked.

Terrorism risk insurance was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when the insurance industry was upended by the massive amount of claims made. The current authorization will expire at the end of 2014.

The Senate measure would extend the program for seven years, while the House version would last for five years.

GOP lawsuit

The House Rules Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the House GOP lawsuit against President Obama for his use of executive action.

Four legal experts are scheduled to testify. The lawsuit is centered on Obama's decision to delay the healthcare law's employer mandate, which requires workplaces with 50 or more employees to provide insurance coverage.

—Keith Laing, Ramsey Cox and Peter Schroeder contributed.


Below is a detailed schedule of the week ahead:

Monday

The Senate will convene at 2 p.m. However, no roll-call votes are expected.

The House will convene at 12 p.m. and again at 2 p.m. for legislative business. It will vote at 6:30 p.m. on a series of bills under suspension of the rules. After votes, the House will begin debate of the fiscal 2015 Financial Services appropriations bill.

Tuesday

The Senate will hold its first roll-call votes of the week at 12 p.m. relative to cloture on the nominations of Norman Bay and Cheryl LaFleur to be members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The House will continue debate of the Financial Services bill. Additionally, it will vote on a measure to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.


Wednesday

The Senate may begin consideration of a bill to overturn the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision.

The House is expected to complete consideration of the Financial Services appropriations bill.

Thursday

The Senate will likely take up a bill to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act for seven years. The House may also consider its own version if there is time.

The House will vote on a bill, H.R. 4719, that would permanently extend and expand the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory. 

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