This week: Immigration, Keystone top agenda

Congress will officially send a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to President Obama’s desk this week while trying to find a way forward to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded.

The House will clear the Senate-passed Keystone measure on Wednesday despite a veto threat from President Obama.

{mosads}A Keystone bill first passed in the House during the first week of the new Congress. But the Senate spent a month on its version and added various amendments, including a statement that climate change is real and an energy efficiency measure.

Neither chamber achieved veto-proof two-thirds majorities to override President Obama’s rejection.

That doesn’t mean this will be the end of the Keystone debate. Republicans in the House and Senate could still try to pass more bills throughout this Congress to authorize the pipeline spanning from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

DHS funding

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will expire in just a few weeks on Feb. 27, but Republicans are still flummoxed over how to proceed.

The Senate failed to advance the measure not just once, or twice, but three times last week due to united Democratic opposition to language that defunds President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Conservatives, meanwhile, want to aggressively challenge the president against what they believe was an unconstitutional move.

Both chambers still plan to recess all of next week for the Presidents Day holiday. Funding for DHS would expire just a few days after they return, meaning a strategy will have to emerge soon to avoid a departmental shutdown. Border patrol and transportation security agents would remain on the job if funding ran out, but wouldn’t get paid in the meantime.

Tax extenders

The House will consider two packages on Thursday and Friday to permanently extend tax credits for charitable giving and small businesses.

The first, H.R. 644, would permanently renew tax credits for charitable giving, including contributions of food inventory and allowing tax-free distributions from individual retirement accounts for charitable purposes. The other, H.R. 636, would extend tax breaks for small businesses, like the Section 179 credit that allows businesses to write off certain expenses.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and then-House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) nearly struck a deal after the November elections to renew some credits permanently. But the deal blew up, so the credits that expired at the end of 2013 were only renewed until the end of 2014.

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


The House will not be in town, apart from a pro forma session at 1 p.m.

The Senate will meet at 3 p.m. for leadership remarks. At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will vote to confirm Michael P. Botticelli to be director of the National Drug Control Policy after up to 30 minutes of debate.


The House will convene at noon for morning hour and 2 p.m. for legislative business. Votes on four noncontroversial bills, including a NASA program authorization, considered under suspension of the rules will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. 

It remains unclear what the Senate will do for the remainder of the week. Senators remain stuck on how to proceed with the DHS funding bill. In any case, the Senate is expected to recess from 12:30 to 2:15 p.m. for the weekly party caucus luncheons.


The House will meet at 10 a.m. for morning hour debate and noon for legislative business. Members will vote to clear the Senate-passed bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition, the House will vote on a measure to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the “foot soldiers” who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday or the final March 1965 voting rights march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery.

The Senate may be considering the DHS funding bill.


As with Wednesday, the House will met at 10 a.m. for morning hour debate and noon for legislative business. On tap will be a package of legislation to permanently renew tax credits for charitable giving.

The Senate might be still debating the DHS funding bill, or it may have turned to other legislative matters.


The House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes of the week to extend tax credits for small businesses are expected around noon.

The Senate may or may not be in session. But if the past five weeks are any indication, the Senate will not schedule any votes because most members will have left town. 

Tags Department of Homeland Security Harry Reid Keystone XL pipeline Tax extenders

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