By Peter Schroeder - 04/07/14 05:46 AM EDT
Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget hits the House floor this week as Republicans look to unify around a fiscal message for the midterm elections.
GOP lawmakers moved the House Budget Committee chairman’s fiscal plan out of his committee in a strict party-line vote, and now the full Republican conference will have a chance to give it their seal of approval.
House Republican leaders are confident the budget will pass even with no expected Democratic support. Some conservatives have grumbled the plan does not go far enough, as this year’s version had to adhere to spending levels Ryan previously hammered out with his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
But there does not appear to be a groundswell of opposition from the party’s right flank, so Ryan’s plan seems set for passage later in the week.
But the full House vote should be the end of the line for the budget; Democrats have slammed the plan and surely won’t take it up in the Senate.
Instead, the upper chamber is set to approve a bill Monday that would resume unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. The bill cleared a crucial procedural hurdle Thursday, and its final passage could put pressure on the House to act on the measure or something like it.
The saga surrounding former IRS official Lois Lerner enters a new stage Thursday, when the House Oversight Committee will vote on holding her in contempt. Lerner has been at the center of the political targeting controversy at the agency and twice has refused to answer questions from the panel, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But Republicans argue she waived the right and needs to provide answers.
Thursday’s vote will be along partisan lines, and the GOP hopes to continue digging in on the IRS.
Meanwhile, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will be hitting Capitol Hill. On Monday, he will appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee to defend his agency’s budget request, and will appear Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee.
At the Senate panel, Koskinen will discuss agency efforts to better regulate paid tax preparers.
Koskinen’s appearance before appropriators Monday kicks off another busy week for lawmakers who control the congressional purse. Appropriators in the House have a number of hearings lined up and will be hearing from top officials at the Department of Education, Commerce Department, and the Office of Management and Budget.
On Tuesday, the House tax writing committee will be at work. The Ways and Means panel will be discussing the benefits of adopting tax policy that lasts for the long term, rather than the frequent fits and starts that often characterize particular tax breaks.
That same day, the Senate Banking Committee will vet the nomination of Nani Coloretti, who the president has picked to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will likely advance a trio of nominees to join the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Tuesday. Among those nominees is Tim Massad, who the president picked to lead the Wall Street watchdog.
The House Financial Services Committee has two hearings on tap next week. On Tuesday, the full committee will discuss how government regulations could be hampering consumer choice and the economy. And on Wednesday, a subcommittee will discuss a legislative proposal to make it easier for small companies to raise capital. That bill is a spiritual successor to the JOBS Act, one of the few bipartisan bills to become law in the last Congress.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its last policy meeting. The central bank decided in that March meeting to continue shrinking the size of its bond purchases as it winds down its economic stimulus.
Wendy Cutler, acting deputy U.S. trade representative, heads to Tokyo on Monday to continue discussions about market access issues on the Trans-Pacific Partnership with top Japanese officials.