Next week: Nominations, possible VA fix

The Senate will spend the majority of next week confirming President Obama’s executive and judicial nominees, including Sylvia Burwell to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Before leaving for a weeklong recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on six nominees, including Burwell who will replace outgoing Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in overseeing the implementation of ObamaCare among other things.

ADVERTISEMENT
Republicans are forcing Democrats to vote to end debate before final confirmation as a protest to changing filibuster rules. Last year, Senate Democrats used the “nuclear option” to unilaterally change the rules so that a simple majority can advance most nominations instead of the previously needed 60 votes.

Since Democrats have 55 votes in the Senate confirmation on all six nominees is nearly certain.

When the Senate completes its work on nominations, it is expected to take up legislation to address the medical claims backlog scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which caused VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign Friday.

Lawmakers will likely use a on a two-pronged legislative response to hold the VA accountable for mismanagement and to improve healthcare for veterans.

Senate Democrats have also said that addressing student loan debt is a priority during this upcoming four-week work period.

The House will not be in session next week.

Monday

The Senate starts at 2 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. will vote to end debate on the nomination of Keith Harper to be a U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Tuesday-Thursday

The Senate is expected to vote on the final confirmation of Harper. The Senate will also recess from 12:30 to 2:15 p.m. for their weekly caucus luncheons. The rest of the week will be spent considering the following nominations in this order:

- Sharon Bowen to be a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

- Mark Mastroianni to be a U.S. district judge for Massachusetts. 

- Bruce Hendricks to be a U.S. circuit judge for South Carolina.

- Tanya Chutkan to be a U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia.

- Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.