Republicans in the House and Senate will both focus on passing their respective budget plans this week in what's expected to be a long and protracted debate.

The House will start by adding an amendment in the Rules Committee Monday evening to increase spending for overseas contingency operations (OCO), a Pentagon war fund, to $96 billion and eliminate a need for offsets. GOP leaders' hope is that the amendment will ease concerns from defense hawks.


It's unclear if House Republicans keep both fiscal and defense hawks on board. No Democrats are expected to vote for the budget resolution, meaning that Republicans will have to pass it on their own. A stumble in the House Budget Committee could be a sign of more trouble to come.

House members will also vote on alternative budget resolutions from the Republican Study Committee, House Democrats and Congressional Progressive Caucus. Last year, House Republicans also mockingly offered President Obama's budget plan as an alternative to show it couldn't pass the House.

A final House vote on the budget, which would balance in nine years, is likely Wednesday or Thursday.

The Senate, meanwhile, is expected to conduct a "vote-a-rama," during which senators can offer an unlimited number of amendments to the budget. The back-to-back votes on amendments are likely to go all night, possibly Thursday.

Senate Democrats have pledged to block any attempt to increase defense spending without also increasing spending for non-defense programs. 

They said their amendments will focus on boosting infrastructure, making college more affordable, moving toward equal pay and blocking cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

The heavy lifting won't be over once each chamber passes its respective budget. The Senate GOP budget would balance a year later than the House GOP's, meaning further negotiations will likely be necessary before finally settling upon an outline for the new fiscal year.

'Doc fix'

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Trump adviser expected to leave White House, join Juul The Hill's 12:30 Report: McGahn inflames Dem divisions on impeachment MORE (R-Ohio) will try to usher another major item through this week: a permanent means of preventing cuts in Medicare physician payments.

Congress has made an annual practice of voting to prevent the cuts, in what's become known as the "doc fix."

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Trump adviser expected to leave White House, join Juul The Hill's 12:30 Report: McGahn inflames Dem divisions on impeachment MORE negotiated a deal from the get-go with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that ends the automatic payment cuts. 

The overall package is expected to cost $210 billion with only $70 billion offset. But the gap in offsets will likely lead to defections from GOP fiscal conservatives.  

If Congress doesn't move the measure, doctors will face a 21 percent cuts to reimbursements from Medicare on April 1 under an 18-year-old formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

Congress is scheduled to depart for a two-week recess at the end of this week for the Easter holiday. That leaves limited time to address both the doc fix and budget.

Human trafficking, Lynch nomination

Senators are expected to go back to a bill to combat human trafficking after they finish the budget. But since the budget will consume the entire week, the issue may not return until mid-April.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which would bolster resources for law enforcement and victims, has been stalled for two weeks because of a fight over abortion. 

Democrats say the legislation would expand the Hyde Amendment, which restricts funds for abortions. If the legislation passed with the abortion provision intact, a victims' fund that gets its money from criminal fines would be subjected to the abortion provision. 

How, and if, the Senate will overcome the legislative standstill is unclear, but Republicans are threatening to delay a vote on Loretta Lynch's nomination for attorney general until after they pass the anti-trafficking vote. 

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bipartisan House bill calls for strategy to protect 5G networks from foreign threats Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' MORE (R-Texas) said Republicans are feeling "zero" pressure to bring Loretta Lynch's attorney general nomination up for a vote. 

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

The House will convene at noon for morning hour debate and 2 p.m. for legislative business. Members will consider several bills under suspension of the rules, including a resolution calling on the president to supply Ukraine with military assistance. Roll call votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

The Senate will convene at noon and begin consideration of the budget resolution. The Senate will conduct at least one roll call vote at 5:30 p.m. on an amendment to the budget.


The House will begin debate on the GOP's budget resolution.

The Senate will continue consideration of the budget, as it plans to do for the rest of the week. But the chamber is expected to recess on Tuesday from 12:30 to 2:15 p.m. for the weekly party caucus luncheons.

Wednesday and the rest of the week

Both chambers will focus on their respective budgets. At some point, likely by Thursday, the House and Senate are expected to vote on the permanent "doc fix" measure ahead of the April 1 deadline before they leave Washington for the recess.

In addition, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani will address a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

- Peter Sullivan contributed.