Next week: Time to pass a spending bill (or two)
The House and Senate will each be in session to pass two spending bills for 2014, before funding for the government runs out next week.
The first of these will be a short-term spending bill that keeps the government operating through Jan. 18, instead of Jan. 15. If everything works as planned, that extension will give Congress time to digest and approve the second bill — a huge, $1 trillion omnibus bill that will keep the government operating for the rest of 2014.
The full funding bill was only expected to be introduced Sunday or Monday, too late for both the House and Senate to act on it before funding runs out Wednesday.
Passage of the short-term measure should be easy — the House plans to pass it as a non-controversial bill early this week, a move the Senate will follow. The bigger bill will get some debate, as members will get to consider it for just a few days before being asked to approve it.
Consideration of the long-awaited omnibus spending bill will force the two parties to work together in a week that will otherwise be filled with the usual partisan fighting over issues like unemployment insurance and ObamaCare.
The Senate will return to continue what has turned into a tense debate over how to pay for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits. Last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) clashed with Republicans when he said he wouldn’t allow any amendments that introduce GOP proposals for paying for the extension.
By Friday, however, Reid relented and said he would consider some germane amendments to the bill. He didn’t say which ones or how many, but the decision could help defuse last week’s tensions and allow a bill to pass.
In the House, members will consider the second of two ObamaCare bills that they’ve prepared over the last week. The bill on the floor would require weekly updates about the implementation of the healthcare law, including everything from detailed enrollment data to any ongoing problems with the HealthCare.gov website.
This week, the House passed a bill requiring the administration to report when personal data entered into any ObamaCare site has been stolen or inappropriately accessed.
The Obama administration has said it opposes both healthcare bills because it would add paperwork requirements to the implementation of the law. But last week, 67 Democrats disagreed, and voted with Republicans to require reports on data breaches.
Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:
The Senate starts at 2 p.m., and will resume consideration of S. 1845, the bill extending emergency unemployment insurance.
Democrats have set an afternoon deadline for filing amendments to the bill. But as of Friday, Democrats had not said which ones might be looked at, or when that process might start.
At 5 p.m., the Senate will consider the nomination of Robert Wilkins to be a Circuit Court judge in Washington, D.C. A vote on his nomination will happen at 5:30 p.m.
The House starts at noon for speeches, then meets at 2 p.m. for legislative work on three suspension bills. Any needed recorded votes would happen at 6:30 p.m. on the three bills:
— H.R. 1513, expanding the boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park,
— S. 230, allowing the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation to establish a commemorative work in Washington, D.C., and
— H.R. 841, amending the Grand Ronde Reservation Act, which set up a Native American reservation, to make technical corrections.
The House starts at 10 a.m., and at noon it will work on five suspension bills. One of these is the three-day extension of the continuing resolution. Others are:
— H.R. 801, the Holding Company Registration Threshold Equalization Act, making the shareholder threshold for registration of savings and loan holding companies the same as for bank holding companies,
— H.R. 2274, the Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act, providing for a registration exemption for merger and acquisition brokers,
— H.R. 2860, the OPM IG Act, expanding access to program funds for the Inspector General of the Office of Personnel Management, and
— H.R. 1233, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments, amending the Presidential Records Act to set up procedures for the consideration of requests for documents.
The Senate is in, and could be in a position by the end of the day to pass the short-term continuing resolution, possibly by unanimous consent.
Additional work on the unemployment bill might also take place Tuesday.
The House will use these days to consider and pass the omnibus spending bill (as of Friday, no text was available).
Members will also consider an ObamaCare bill, H.R. 3362, the Exchange Information Disclosure Act. This legislation would require weekly reports on the implementation of the healthcare law and related websites.
The House is out, although the Senate could still be in to finish work on the omnibus bill.