Next week: Trying again on unemployment insurance

After failing in January, the Senate is hoping it can have better luck in February passing a bill to extend emergency unemployment benefits that expired at the end of 2013.

Senate Democrats initially resisted the idea of paying for the cost of the $6.5 billion extension. Then they proposed paying for it with promised cuts in 2024, something Republicans rejected.

{mosads}This time around, Democrats are proposing a change to the way companies fund their pensions, which will result in more taxable income and more government revenues. That change seems to get them closer to the 60 votes needed to advance the bill and get it to a final vote.

But even if the votes are there, it’s not clear House Republicans will be willing to consider the bill. GOP leaders have said Congress should be focusing on ways to increase employment, rather than making unemployment more comfortable.

Unemployment will again be a focus in the middle of the week, when the Congressional Budget Office provides its annual outlook on the budget and the economy. And by the end of the week, the government’s jobs report will January will be released.

The Senate is also expected to pass a huge farm bill, which would reauthorize the federal food stamp program that millions of the nation’s unemployed are using. The bill would cut $8 billion from food stamps over 10 years, a cut that forced most Democrats to oppose it when it passed the House last week.

Still, the bill is expected to pass, as it reflects a bipartisan House-Senate agreement to finally finish what has been a three-year process of reauthorizing commodity and nutrition programs.

The House will return after a short week that allowed Republicans to meet and agree on a series of immigration principles, and discuss the idea of using the upcoming debt ceiling fight to block a federal bailout of insurance companies under ObamaCare.

But those are fights for another day. Next week, the House will take up several unrelated bills that reflect longstanding GOP priorities.

One House bill is meant to help alleviate California farms and residences that are suffering from drought conditions in California. The GOP says the Obama administration has cut off water to California’s Central Valley since 2009, a move that protected fish but is harming families and businesses.

The GOP bill would restore the flow of water under a compromise agreement from the 1990s. The next trick will be Senate passage — the Senate ignored a similar House bill in the last Congress.

Another bill is aimed at ensuring sport shooters have access to federal land. And another would require colleges to give veterans in-state tuition rates, regardless of whether they reside in the same state.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:


The Senate starts at 2 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m., senators will vote on a motion to end debate on the House-Senate farm bill agreement, which is H.R. 2642.

Assuming the 60 votes are there to end debate, the Senate will vote to pass the $956 billion bill on Tuesday afternoon.

The House will start in the afternoon, and will consider two suspension bills:

H.R. 1791, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act. This bill authorizes the use of homeland security funding for medical preparedness efforts, including creating a stockpiles of pharmaceuticals and medical kits.

H.R. 357, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, requiring colleges to give veterans in-state tuition rates.


The House will work on two bills today:

H.R. 3590, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, which eases access to sport shooters on federal land, among other things.

H.R. 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, which is meant to restore water access for thousands of farms and residents in California.

The Senate will pass the farm bill on Tuesday afternoon, and then is in for the rest of the week. Sentators are then expected to use the week to advance the latest Democratic proposal to extend emergency unemployment benefits.


The House starts at 9 a.m., and will work on:

H.R. 2954, authorizing Escambia County, Florida, to convey property to Santa Rosa County.


The House and Senate are out.

Tags Unemployment insurance
See all Hill.TV See all Video