Wednesday: House starts approps, Senate considers minimum wage

 

The House will take up its first fiscal 2015 appropriations bill of the year on Wednesday.

First on the docket will be the $71.5 billion Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill, which is traditionally one of the easiest to pass. It will be considered under an open rule, meaning members can offer any germane amendments and expect a long night. House Republicans have touted this process as a "return to regular order."

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Likely issues to be tacked on as amendments include addressing the VA benefits backlog and the use of funds regarding the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Debate is expected to last late into the evening.

This year marks the earliest start to the appropriations process since 1974, according to House GOP leaders. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has said his goal is to pass all 12 annual spending bills before the August recess. But the more likely outcome is that the House will pass a handful of the bills and then pass a temporary spending measure to avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1.

The Senate will hold its first procedural vote at noon on legislation that raises the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour after two years.

Democrats will need at least five Republicans to join them in voting to end debate on whether to proceed to S. 2223, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, in order to meet the 60-vote threshold.

But Republicans have argued that Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) bill would harm job growth, citing a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that says the bill would cost the economy nearly 1 million jobs.

Later Wednesday, the Senate will complete work on six judicial nominations. On Tuesday, cloture was invoked on all six and final confirmation is expected for all of them.

A list of the nominations follows:

- Sheryl Lipman to be a U.S. District Judge for Western Tennessee

- Allen Bastian to be a U.S. District Judge for Eastern Washington

- Manish Shah to be a U.S. District Judge for Northern Illinois

- Daniel Crabtree to be a U.S. District Judge for Kansas

- Cynthia Bashant to be a U.S. District Judge for Southern California

- Jon Levy to be a U.S. District Judge for Maine