Lawmakers back in town, but not for long

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The top order of business for the House and Senate this month is passing a short-term funding bill to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

Lawmakers may only be in Washington for as few as two weeks despite a long to-do list after returning from the August recess.

{mosads}House Republican leadership wants to move a stopgap funding bill, also known as a continuing resolution, that lasts through early December as soon as this week. The Senate is expected to follow shortly afterward. 

Reaching an agreement on spending for the rest of the new fiscal year ending in September 2015 will be work for the lame-duck session of Congress in November.

Action on ISIS?

Two House committees, Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs, will hold hearings Wednesday on the threat of Sunni militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Calls for a vote on authorizing the use of military force against the terrorist group began to heat up last week following the release of a video showing the beheading of the second American journalist in recent weeks.

It is unlikely that the House or Senate will vote on allowing military action against ISIS in the brief September session so close to the November elections. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told his members to expect briefings from administration officials, but did not indicate if there will be a vote. No Senate hearings or briefings on ISIS have yet been announced.

Bergdahl resolution

The House is expected to vote this week on a resolution condemning the Obama administration for not giving Congress advance notice of the exchange of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees.

Administrations are required by law to give Congress at least 30 days notice before transferring prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. President Obama later said that giving lawmakers a heads up could have jeopardized the sensitive negotiations with the Taliban. But many members of Congress argued that the president should have kept them informed. The Government Accountability Office reported last month that the Pentagon violated the law in its handling of the Bergdahl prisoner swap.

The House resolution expresses “grave concern” that the exchange posed national security risks and “burdened” the administration’s working relationship with Congress.

Campaign Finance Constitutional Amendment

The Senate will vote on a measure that would amend the Constitution so that Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign spending. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is sure to use the opportunity less than two months from the midterm elections to further blast the Koch brothers for donating millions of dollars to GOP candidates.

The measure is unlikely to pass due to opposition from Senate Republicans. Even if it were to pass both chambers with the necessary two-thirds majority, a Constitutional amendment further requires ratification from three-fourths of state legislatures.

Below is a day-to-day schedule of the week ahead:


The Senate will convene at 2 p.m. for leadership remarks. At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will vote on the following nominations: 

– Jill Pryor to be a U.S. circuit judge for the eleventh circuit.
– Henry J. Aaron to be a member of the Social Security Advisory Board for a term expiring on Sept. 30, 2014.  

Voice votes are expected afterward on the following nominations:

– Henry J. Aaron to be a member of the Social Security Advisory Board for a term expiring on Sept. 30, 2020.
– Alan L. Cohen to be a member of the Social Security Advisory Board.
– Lanhee J. Chen to be a member of the Social Security Advisory Board.

Following disposition of the nominations, the Senate will vote on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to a measure that would amend the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. 

The House will vote at 6:30 p.m. on several suspension bills, including post office namings, approval of the location of a memorial to commemorate the slaves and free blacks who fought in the American Revolution, a measure to enhance prosecutions of tax return identity theft, legislation to direct the Energy Department to develop high-end computer systems, and a measure to authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s tsunami detection program through 2017. 


The House will vote on a series of suspension bills, including H.R. 3670, which would expand prohibitions of caller ID spoofing, and H.R. 4290, which would extend the authorization of the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program.

The House may also vote on a bill, H.R. 5078, that would prevent implementation of a proposed rule to set definitions for bodies of water to be subject to federal regulations. A resolution condemning the Obama administration for not giving advance notice of the exchange of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners may also come up for a vote.

If the measure to amend the Constitution and overturn the Citizens United decision moves forward Monday evening, the Senate may continue debate. Otherwise, the Senate may consider more nominations or move to another Democratic messaging bill, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) measure to refinance student loans. Warren’s bill previously failed to advance in June.


The House may consider H.R. 3522, which would allow people to keep their insurance plans under the healthcare law. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is running to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in a race that could decide control of the Senate next year, is the measure’s sponsor.

The Senate may still be considering nominations or a messaging bill.


The House may take up a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded through early December and avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1.

The Senate schedule will depend upon what it has completed in the preceding days.  

Tags Appropriations Bill Cassidy Bowe Bergdahl Citizens United Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ObamaCare
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