Next week: Undoing military pension cuts

The Senate will spend a big chunk of next week wrestling with legislation to undo a $6 billion cut to military pensions.

Both the House and Senate agreed to that cut just weeks ago, in a budget bill and then an appropriations bill for fiscal 2014. But several members immediately criticized the move, and vowed to reconsider it early in the year.

{mosads}Starting Monday, senators will consider a bill from Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to claw back those cuts. In its current form, the bill doesn’t offset the $6 billion spending increase with any spending cuts or tax increases. The plan is to advance the bill with a procedural vote Monday, and then see if senators can find a “pay-for” proposal that most can support.

This could be a bumpy ride — the Senate is notorious these days for struggling to come up with agreements on amendments.

In the House, members will focus on few bills dealing with financial regulation. One of them would restructure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an entity designed to protect consumers through the regulation of financial entities, but one that has been heavily criticized by Republicans.

The GOP bill up next week would turn the bureau into a five-person commission, a move Republicans see as a way to moderate its views. The CFPB  is currently run by one person, Richard Cordray, who has drawn sharp opposition from Republicans since he was nominated, and particularly after he was recess-appointed by President Obama.

Elsewhere, Republican leaders say it’s possible that they’ll call up legislation related to extending the debt ceiling. But that bill is likely to come up later in the month, as the Treasury Department has said it can use extraordinary measures to avoid hitting the debt ceiling until Feb. 27.

Another reason the debt ceiling issue could be pushed to later in the month is that the House will only work half of the week, in order to allow House Democrats to hold their annual policy retreat. Members are expected to finish up around noon on Wednesday.

In committees, both the House and Senate will hear testimony from newly sworn in Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen. She will testify on the Fed’s monetary policy course and the economy, which will give members of the committee their first chance to ask about her views on the Fed’s bond-buying program that most agree helped lift stocks last year.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:


The Senate starts at 2 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m. it will hold a procedural vote on S. 1963, which would repeal the $6 billion cut to military pensions. The vote is on a motion to end debate on the motion to proceed to the bill.

If it passes this hurdle, the Senate is likely to stay on this bill for much of the week, as senators might need to debate various proposals to pay for the change.

The House starts at noon, and in the afternoon it will take up two suspension bills:

H.R. 2431, the National Integrated Drought Information Systems Reauthorization Act. This bill would reauthorize a federal program aimed at assessing the impacts of and responding to droughts.

H.Res. 447, a resolution supporting the democratic goals of the people of Ukraine.


The House will consider H.R. 3193, the Consumer Financial Protection and Soundness Improvement Act, which is meant to restructure the CFPB. A final vote on this bill could come Wednesday, and the House Rules Committee meets Monday to decide whether any amendments will be considered on the floor.

The House will also take up two other suspension bills:

H.R. 3578, requiring any federal rules on the testing of air traffic controllers for sleep disorders are issued under a formal rulemaking process.

H.R. 3448, the Small Cap Liquidity Reform Act, aimed at helping small companies raise money in the equity markets.

The Senate will be in both days, likely still working on the military pension bill.


The House will be out to accommodate the House Democratic issues retreat, and the Senate is expected to be in through Thursday. 

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