Thursday: House to finish budget work, nominations in Senate

The House will finish consideration of the GOP 2015 budget on Thursday.

The chamber will hold a final vote on the measure, along with votes on two remaining substitute amendments from the Republican Study Committee and House Democratic Caucus.

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The final vote tally on the budget could be close. Democrats are expected to be united in opposition, and GOP leadership can only lose up to 16 Republicans if all members vote. At least 10 Republicans are expected to vote against the budget proposal.

The $3.1 trillion budget alternative to be offered by House Democrats is similar to the president's 2015 budget request. Meanwhile, the $2.8 trillion RSC budget would cut spending even faster than the proposal outlined by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as it claims to balance within four years instead of 10. Conservative group Heritage Action has made the RSC budget a key-vote to urge Republican support.

A mock amendment offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) that mirrored President Obama's 2015 budget proposal was rejected in a 2-413 vote Wednesday evening. House Democrats had urged their members to vote against the proposal, calling it a "political stunt" that did not truly reflect the president's policy priorities.

The House may also take up another measure, H.R. 4357, that would prevent Iran's new United Nations ambassador, Hamid Abutalebi, from entering the U.S. Abutalebi was a member of a militant group that seized the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage.

The Senate passed a companion bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday.

"We must not leave for the Easter recess without sending a clear and unified message that terrorists are not welcome as diplomats in our country," Bill sponsor Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on two of President Obama’s nominees. 

The Senate starts at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and one hour later the first vote will be to end debate on the nomination of Michelle Friedland to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit. Under the rules, if the Senate invokes cloture on Friedland’s nomination Thursday, there will be up to 30 hours of debate. 

Reid said he hopes to reach agreement with Republicans to expedite that process so the Senate can move on to final confirmation and then the nomination of David Weil to be administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division before leaving for a two-week Easter recess. Weil’s nomination requires up to eight hours of debate after cloture is invoked. Democrats can yield back their half of those mandatory debate times, meaning work could be completed by Friday evening if Republican refuse to budge.

Last year, Senate Democrats unilaterally voted to change the Senate rules allowing a simple majority to advance most nominations instead of the previously required 60-votes. Republicans have complained this rule change greatly undermined minority party rights in the Senate.