After their first full week in the 114th Congress, members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate return on Monday for a second week of legislative business focused on energy, the economy, and an appropriations measure that will focus debate on immigration issues, especially the President’s executive action of last year to benefit those in the country illegally.
The Senate will convene on Monday and resume consideration of S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act. At 5:30 p.m., senators will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S.1. If the motion is agreed to, the Senate is expected to spend the balance of the week debating this bill and a number of amendments are expected to be offered. Last Friday, the House of Representatives voted 266-153 to approve its bill to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline despite the threat of a presidential veto.
The House will convene on Monday to consider two bills under suspension of the rules (these are typically non-controversial bills requiring a two-thirds majority for passage). Its real legislative work begins Tuesday.
On Monday afternoon the Rules Committee will determine the rules for House consideration of the bills that will consume the balance of the week: H.R. 37, Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act, a bill that was defeated under a suspension vote last week and will return under a rule, meaning it will only require a simple majority for passage rather than a two-thirds majority; and H.R. 185, Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, a bill that would make the first significant amendments to the Administrative Procedure Act since its enactment in 1946; the House has passed this bill in each of the last two Congresses, but the Democratic Senate never considered it, so the fact that it is coming up so early in the new Congress is an early sign of the possible impact of the new Republican control of the Senate.
Once these bills are disposed of, the House is expected to consider the 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which was unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee on Friday afternoon. Due to President Obama’s November 2014 executive action on immigration, which expanded the Administration’s deferred action policy for persons in the country illegally, the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for handling immigration issues (it oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Customs and Border Protection) was the only agency that did not receive funding for the entire fiscal year in the omnibus appropriations bill approved in December by Congress and signed by the President. Under that bill, funding for DHS expires on February 27. The bill will fund DHS through the end of the fiscal year. Floor debate on this bill is expected to become highly contentious, as Republicans plan to offer an amendment challenging the President’s executive action on immigration. The issue is likely to create a difficult and twisted path forward for the bill.
In addition to these expected agendas in each chamber, a schedule of key hearings in both chambers this week is listed below (note that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will be testifying at each of the two Senate hearings):
Tuesday January 13, 2015
House Ways and Means
U.S. Economic Activity, Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center
Senate Foreign Relations
U.S. Leadership and Global Security, Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.
Kaitlyn McClure, Covington & Burling LLP Policy Advisor, co-authored this post.