A closer look at next week…

The House bill is different from a version the Senate passed in the last Congress. For example, it does not include language in the Senate bill offering aid to regions outside the region where Sandy struck.

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But the bill is still expected to pass easily because it helps meet President Obama's goal of a $60 billion package for Sandy. Congress has already approved a nearly $10 billion bill allowing the National Flood Insurance Program to pay claims related to the storm.

The Senate may also use next week to consider a House bill suspending the debt ceiling for three months. The No Budget, No Pay Act is so named because it would also require the pay of House or Senate members to be withheld if their respective chamber fails to pass a budget by April 15.

Republicans want to use the three month delay to work out a long-term debt ceiling agreement that includes significant cuts. Many House Democrats called this a "gimmick." But Senate Democrats and the White House have welcomed the bill because it does not extract any immediate spending cuts as a price for temporarily avoiding a debt-ceiling crisis.

Additionally, the Senate should be able to confirm the nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be Secretary of State. A vote is expected Tuesday.

Off the floor, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine gun violence, and the Armed Services Committee will meet Thursday on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of Defense.

The House is out all week.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday

The Senate meets at 2 p.m., and at 4:30 p.m. will start debate on H.R. 152, the $50 billion Disaster Relief Appropriations Act.

After an hour of debate, the Senate will hold two votes. One will be on an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), which would offset the cost of the bill by imposing a 0.49 percent cut to discretionary programs. That proposal should fail, as 60 votes are needed for passage.

After that, the Senate will vote on the bill itself — 60 votes are needed, but the measure is expected to pass easily.

Tuesday-Friday

Senate leaders are hoping to hold a vote on the nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be secretary of State as early as Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said this week that he was working with Republicans on an agreement to hold this vote — Kerry faces no significant opposition and will be confirmed.

The Senate is in for the rest of the week but with no firm plans beyond Tuesday, although some debate and a vote on the debt-ceiling bill is also possible.