Friday: FISA, Sandy in the Senate; House not in session

Friday morning, the Senate will consider a final amendment from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would require the government to estimate the extent to which U.S.-based communications are being intercepted by FISA activities related to the monitoring of overseas terrorist suspects. After that vote, the Senate will vote on final passage of the FISA bill.

Then, the Senate is expected to start considering amendments to H.R. 1, which is the vehicle for the Democratic proposal to spend $60 billion on Hurricane Sandy relief. Senate Republicans have argued for days now that the bill is too expensive and deals mostly with non-emergency items, and have offered several proposals to trim back the cost of the bill.

Among the amendments to be considered are items that would cut millions from unrelated forest restoration programs, and one that would cut funding for fisheries outside areas affected by Sandy. Most of the amendments are being offered by Republicans.

Specifically, the Senate will take up five amendments from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), two from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and one from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). The Senate breaks for caucus lunches at 12:30 p.m., and will consider more amendments afterwards, followed by a vote on final passage.

The House is not in, but Friday afternoon, House and Senate leaders will meet with President Obama at the White House to discuss ways to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of looming tax hikes and automatic spending cuts.

Democrats blasted Republicans for holding a brief pro forma session on Thursday instead of working on the fiscal cliff. Whether in response to that criticism or because of a belief that a deal might be coming, House leaders said the House would reconvene Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for legislative work, and could remain in session through Jan. 2.