After returning to Washington after the Thanksgiving recess, Congress has just ten days to find a way to avoid a government shutdown - unless lawmakers extend a deadline they set last month.

Republicans have yet to reach consensus on how to respond to President Obama's executive action to delay deportations of up to five million undocumented immigrants. 


Many conservatives want to defund the executive action through the new spending bill to keep the government open past Dec. 11. But it's not clear the executive action can be blocked through such a measure given that the agency responsible for issuing work permits, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is funded through fees and not subject to the congressional appropriations process. In any case, Senate Democrats and President Obama would oppose such a proposal.

Any decision on the way forward won't be decided until after what could be a pivotal House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning.

Two House committees, Homeland Security and Judiciary, will hold hearings on Tuesday about the executive action. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee.

Nazi bill, Disability expenses

The House will vote on a bill, H.R. 5739, that would terminate Social Security benefits for people the government has found to be associated with Nazis. Bipartisan outrage followed after the Associated Press reported that dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals pressured by the Justice Department to leave the U.S. had collected millions of dollars in federal benefits. It will be considered under suspension of the rules, indicating that it will pass easily.

The House may also vote on a bill known as the ABLE Act, H.R. 647, that would create tax-exempt savings accounts for people with disabilities to pay for qualified expenses. Those expenses would include education costs, housing, transportation, medical needs and costs for gaining employment. Passage of the measure is expected to be overwhelmingly bipartisan.

Politically connected ambassadors

The Senate will vote this week on two ambassador nominees that are not career diplomats, but are top Obama campaign contributors who each raised more than $500,000. While it's not unusual for administrations to appoint donors to ambassadorial positions, the two nominees, Colleen Bell and Noah Mamet, came under criticism after showing minimal knowledge of the countries they would represent during the Senate confirmation process.

Bell, the nominee for ambassador to Hungary, had difficulty answering a question about the U.S. strategic interests there. And Mamet acknowledged he'd never been to Argentina despite his  nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to the country.

Defense and tax credits

Several items remain on the lame-duck session's plate that lawmakers want to finish within the next few weeks. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.) said before the Thanksgiving recess that he hoped the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act conference report could be on the floor as soon as this week.

Tax policy writers are also still working on a package to restore more than 50 expired tax credits. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE (D-Nev.) came close to a deal last week, but it was torpedoed by a White House veto threat.

In addition, negotiations are still ongoing for a renewal of terrorism risk insurance, which provides a government financial backstop to cities in the event of a terror attack.

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


The Senate will convene at 2 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will vote to invoke cloture on Noah Mamet to be ambassador to Argentina and Colleen Bell to be ambassador to Hungary.

The House will convene at 2 p.m. for legislative business. At 6:30 p.m., the House will vote on a series of noncontroversial bills considered under suspension of the rules. Those measures include H.R. 3410, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to include the threat of electromagnetic pulse events in national planning scenarios and conduct a campaign to educate the public about the threat, and H.R. 5629, which would require the director for Domestic Nuclear Detection to provide support for training to federal, state and local entities in nuclear detection capabilities.


If cloture is invoked on the ambassadorial nominations Monday evening, the Senate will vote Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. to confirm Mamet and Bell. Upon completion of the Mamet and Bell nominations, the Senate will move to the nomination of Nani A. Coloretti to be a deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on domestic violence in professional sports at 2:30 p.m. in light of the scandals involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Across the Capitol, the House will vote on more bills under suspension of the rules, including a measure, H.R. 5739, to terminate Social Security benefits for suspected Nazi war criminals. Another measure, H. Res. 758, would condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime for its "policy of aggression against neighboring countries."

Two House committees will hold hearings about President Obama's immigration executive action. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee at 9 a.m., while the House Judiciary Committee will meet at 1 p.m.

House Republicans will hold a conference meeting in the morning to discuss their response to President Obama's executive action.


Upon completion of the Coloretti nomination, the Senate will then move to the nomination of Robert Adler to be a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Following votes on the Adler nomination, the Senate will consider the nominations of Charlotte Burrows to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and P. David Lopez to be general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The House may continue consideration of more bills under suspension of the rules. It may also take up legislation, H.R. 647, to create tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities.


The Senate will likely complete work on the above nominations before departing Washington for the week.

The House may consider the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act conference report. It may additionally consider a package to renew expired tax credits.

Ramsey Cox contributed.