Wednesday: Student loans in the Senate, finishing DOD in the House

The final Senate compromise that will get a vote today isn't all that different — it would base the loan rate on the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.05 percent, and set an 8.25 percent cap on loan rates for most students.

The House-passed bill puts the rate at the 10-year note plus 2.5 percent, and has an 8.5 percent cap. But the House version proposed a variable rate for loans, while the Senate bill would set fixed rates.

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The Senate is expected to vote on the compromise plan worked out by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). It is also expected to vote on a Democratic amendment setting a 6.8 percent cap on rates, which would be paid for by increasing taxes on millionaires.

And, it will vote on language from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would sunset the bill after two years.

The final bill as amended will need 60 votes to pass.

The Senate is also expected to hold a morning vote on an amendment to the 2014 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development spending bill, S. 1243. The amendment is from Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and it would prioritize certain infrastructure projects under the bill. Further work on that bill is expected throughout the week.

Members of the House will resume work in the afternoon on the 2014 Defense Department spending bill, H.R. 2397. The House worked through dozens of amendments Tuesday night, and has about 20 left to consider before it disposes of all 100 that were made in order.

Among other things, the House voted to prohibit civilian Defense Department furloughs due to the sequester, cut funding from Afghanistan infrastructure and security forces programs, and prohibit the Defense Department from hiring non-religious chaplains.

The big amendment votes will be on two that would restrain National Security Agency spying on U.S. citizens, and one each limiting U.S. military spending in Syria and Egypt. House Republicans had resisted any consideration of amendments on these topics, but caved in after facing stiff opposition from both Republicans and Democrats.

The House will also pass a rule allowing consideration of two energy bills that will likely be discussed Thursday and Friday.

The first is H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, which would let states set rules for handling coal ash runoff.

The second is H.R. 1582, the Energy Consumers Relief Act, which would prevent the EPA from issuing regulations that hurt the economy and job creation.

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee approved a rule for both bills that allows three amendments to be considered for H.R. 2218, and six amendments for H.R. 1582.