This week: Medicare, Iran top agenda

The House and Senate are back to work on Monday after a two-week spring recess.

House Republicans will consider a series of bills this week aimed at the Internal Revenue Service amid the deadline for Americans to file their tax returns on April 15. The Senate, meanwhile, will take up the House-passed bill to repeal automatic cuts to Medicare doctor reimbursements. 

This week will also be the first time lawmakers are in Washington since the announcement of an international framework for a nuclear deal with Iran. 

{mosads}The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans a markup on Tuesday of a bill to delay the implementation of a deal with Iran for 60 days to allow Congress to review it.

A handful of Democrats may support the bill in committee despite objections from the White House, which opposes any bill passed before international negotiators produce a final deal by June 30, over concerns it could jeopardize the process.

Some Democrats have indicated that they want to amend the legislation, such as removing language requiring the administration to certify that Iran no longer supports terrorism and authorizing the president to roll back sanctions without having to wait for Congress to approve the deal. 

Tax Day

The slate of bills on the House schedule to mark Tax Day is designed to avoid a repeat of the IRS scrutiny of conservative nonprofits for tax-exempt status. They include legislation to prohibit IRS employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business; allowing groups to file an administrative appeal if the IRS rejects their applications for tax-exempt status; and banning individuals who are delinquent on their taxes from serving in the federal government.

Consideration of the IRS-themed bills comes weeks after the Justice Department declined to bring contempt of Congress charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, who became the face of the targeting scandal. The House voted last year to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups.

Separately, the House plans to close the week with a vote on a bill to repeal the estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” which is applied to the transfer of a deceased person’s assets. Only estates valued at $5.4 million or more in 2015 are subject to the tax, meaning that it doesn’t apply to the vast majority of estates.

‘Doc fix’

The Senate will have to quickly approve the House-passed deal to avoid Medicare doctors getting their reimbursement rates cut, also known as the “doc fix.” Technically the deadline was March 31, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told him it could handle the two-week gap.

The House overwhelmingly passed the legislation by a vote of 392-37 before heading out on recess, but McConnell said that senators would instead take it up immediately after the break. President Obama has said he’ll sign it into law.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said before senators left town that he hoped McConnell would allow a “very limited number of amendments” to the proposal. 

Human trafficking, Lynch nomination

Senators are expected to restart work on legislation aimed at curbing human trafficking, after it stalled for two weeks in the Senate because of a fight over abortion. 

Democrats object to the measure because they say it would be an expansion of the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of federal funds on abortions. If the provision stays in the bill, a victims fund that will get its money from criminal fines would be subject to the abortion restrictions. 

Democrats will also press for McConnell to bring up Loretta Lynch’s attorney general nomination for a vote. But the Kentucky Republican has pledged to delay that vote until after the Senate passes the anti-trafficking bill. 

Below is a day-by-day breakdown of the week’s floor schedule:


The House will convene at noon for morning-hour debate and 2 p.m. for legislative business. Votes on bills regarding financial services policy will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. 

The Senate will convene at 2 p.m. for leadership remarks. At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will vote on the nomination of Alfred Bennett to be a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Texas. 


The House may vote on bills to modify regulations governing loans for mobile homes and require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to amend rules for qualified mortgages. 

The Senate is expected to begin consideration of the Medicare bill. The chamber will also likely recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for the weekly party caucus luncheons.


The Senate will likely still be working on the Medicare bill. If senators clear the measure to the president’s desk before Thursday, they may turn again to the human-trafficking legislation.

The House is slated to consider a bill, possibly Wednesday, that would create three groups to provide counsel for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about credit unions, community banks and small businesses. 

Wednesday, the deadline for filing tax returns, will likely also feature consideration of the House bills aimed at the IRS.

Before departing for the week on Thursday, the House will vote on legislation to repeal the estate tax and a bill to permanently renew a provision of the tax code allowing people to deduct state and local sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes. 

Tags doc fix Harry Reid Internal Revenue Service Iran Medicare Mitch McConnell tax day
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