Congress has just a few days to figure out how to avoid causing a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at the end of this week.

The Senate returns Monday evening to vote for a fourth time to try to proceed to the House-passed DHS funding bill that includes language to revoke President Obama's unilateral actions to shield certain illegal immigrants from deportation.


Like the other three previous failed votes this month, Monday's vote at 5:30 p.m. is expected to fall short of the necessary support from 60 senators to advance.

Meanwhile, House members won't be returning from the weeklong Presidents' Day recess until Tuesday evening. That leaves just three full legislative days for both chambers to find a way out of the conundrum — or else simply wait out the clock for a shutdown Friday at midnight.

Nearly 90 percent of DHS employees are considered "essential," meaning that most workers would still be on the job, though without getting paid. 

House Republicans are expected to gather Wednesday morning for their weekly conference meeting. Any new strategy — or continued adherence to urge Senate Democrats to drop their filibuster — could emerge out of the meeting just two days before the deadline.

Education reform

Amid the DHS funding debate, the House will consider legislation to overhaul the K-12 education system and replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.

The bill, authored by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John  Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), would reduce the federal government's role in education and give states and local school districts more discretion over academic standards and testing.

In addition, the legislation would prohibit the Department of Education from forcing states and school districts to adopt Common Core standards, which establishes English and math knowledge standards for all grade levels.

College savings plans

As another part of its education-themed week, the House will vote on a bill to expand college savings accounts known as 529 plans.

House Republicans are using the bill offered by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) to hit the Obama administration for initially planning to include eliminating tax breaks for the college savings accounts in the White House 2016 budget plan.

The White House eventually withdrew the proposal a few days before budget's release earlier this month after Democrats lobbied the president against it.

Jenkins's measure would expand the types of qualified expenses and allow the re-depositing of funds without penalties if a student withdraws from a college. Under current law, a refund from the college after a withdrawal would be subject to taxes and fees. 

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


The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senate GOP opposition grows to objecting to Electoral College results Man charged with criminal mischief for allegedly vandalizing senator's office with ax MORE (R-N.D.) will then engage in an annual Senate tradition and deliver George Washington's farewell address. The chamber will adjourn until 4:30 p.m. once Hoeven finishes.

At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will vote for the fourth time to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the House-passed DHS funding bill. It is expected to fail like the other three votes this month.

Meanwhile, the House will not be in session.


The Senate will likely still be trying to move the DHS funding bill. In any case, the chamber is expected to recess from 12:30 to 2:15 p.m. for the weekly party caucus luncheons.

The House will convene at noon for morning hour debate and 2 p.m. for legislative business. At 6:30 p.m., the House will vote on noncontroversial bills considered under suspension of the rules. Those bills will include H.R. 212, to direct the development of testing requirements of algal toxins in drinking water; H.R. 734, to consolidate Federal Communications Commission reporting requirements; and H.R. 1020, to include computer science in the definition of STEM education.


The Senate may still be working on DHS funding.

The House may consider H.R. 5, which would replace the No Child Left Behind education policy overhaul.


The Senate will likely still be consumed with the DHS funding debate.

The House may vote on legislation, H.R. 529, to enhance the 529 college savings accounts.


Both the House and Senate will work to address the DHS funding deadline at midnight. If they cannot reach an agreement in time, the department will shut down.