Wednesday: School is out but Congress considers student loans, lunches

The House will consider the $20.9 billion Agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal 2015. It includes funding for nutrition assistance programs and waives school lunch nutrition standards backed by first lady Michelle Obama.

The White House issued its first veto threat against the measure — its first on a 2015 appropriations bill.

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The legislation will be considered under an open rule, meaning members can offer an unlimited number of amendments. Debate is expected to go late into the night, as it did earlier this week when the House considered the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill.

The Senate starts at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday and at 10 a.m. it will take the first procedural vote to advance a student loan refinancing bill.

It is unlikely that enough Republicans will join Democrats to advance the measure, which is paid for by raising taxes on millionaires. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) called the bill a “partisan political stunt” that includes a “class warfare tax.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) authored S. 2432, the Bank of Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow more than 25 million people to refinance their student loans to today’s lower interest rates of less than 4 percent. She paid for the bill with the “Buffet Rule” — a minimum 30-percent income tax payment from people who earn between $1 million and $2 million.

The Senate could also begin work on a bipartisan bill that aims to fix dysfunctions within the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system by holding officials accountable and providing veterans with more choices. 

That deal was introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he wants to "expeditiously" work on the bill this week.

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