Week Ahead: Crunch time for Congress

This could be the last week Congress meets until next year, and they have a lot of end-of-the-year deadlines to meet.

Funding for the government runs out on Friday. House and Senate conferees are working on an omnibus compromise package, which could be introduced as soon as Monday, setting up a House vote for Thursday, followed by a Senate vote.

Also on the agenda is the Republican proposal on the payroll tax-cut extension. The payroll tax expires at the end of the year and both sides agree on extending it but disagree on the details.

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The Democratic plan was voted down in the Senate last week. Republicans unveiled their plan Friday and it could get a vote in the lower chamber as early as Tuesday. President Obama, however, has vowed to veto the measure because of a provision that forces the administration to fast-track a permit decision on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline — a decision the administration has delayed until after the 2012 election.

This week also marks Congress’s last chance to prevent a scheduled 27.4 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians.

Meanwhile, Obama will meet with the Iraqi prime minister this week and visit with troops returning from that country. Jon Corzine returns to testify before Congress and Thursday marks another GOP presidential debate.


Monday, Dec. 12

President Obama meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House.

Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman hold a Lincoln-Douglas style debate at St. Anselm's College in Manchester, N.H., at 4 p.m.

Jon Corzine testifies before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee about the bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 216 Hart.

First lady Michelle Obama visits the Children's National Medical Center at 2 p.m.

Jill Biden hosts elementary students from White Oaks Elementary School in Burke, Va., at the vice president's residence.


Tuesday, Dec. 13

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce holds a luncheon for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at 11:30 a.m.

President Obama will give interviews to several local news anchors from around the country.

Vice President Biden holds a Cabinet meeting to discuss the latest efforts to cut waste, fraud and abuse as part of the administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee holds an oversight hearing of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It begins at 10 a.m. in 538 Dirksen.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates gives the keynote address at an Atlantic Council gala in honor of Brent Scowcroft. Former National Security Advisers Henry Kissinger and Stephen Hadley will also speak at the event, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.


Wednesday, Dec. 14

President Obama and the first lady will visit troops at Fort Bragg, N.C.

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. in 226 Dirksen.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins The Aspen Institute, PBS's "NewsHour" and Intel to hold a discussion on "Innovation and the Global Marketplace: A Discussion on American Innovation, Trade and the Next 10 Million Jobs." It begins at 8:45 a.m. at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark up a bill that would crack down on potential insider trading by members of Congress. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 342 Dirksen.


Thursday, Dec. 15

Corzine testifies before the House Financial Services Committee at 1 p.m. in HVC-210.

The GOP presidential candidates meet in Sioux City, Iowa, for a debate sponsored by Fox News. It begins at 9 p.m. ET.

The Bidens will attend a holiday reception for the Diplomatic Corps at Blair House.


Friday, Dec. 16

President Obama will deliver remarks at the Biennial Convention of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Michelle Obama delivers toys and gifts donated by Executive Office staff to the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots Campaign at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling at 2 p.m.

—Peter Schroeder and Julian Pecquet contributed.