TUESDAY’S BIG STORY:
Not heading for a shutdown: The House is expected to get the show on the road Tuesday when it comes to wrapping up spending decisions for the final six months of the fiscal year.
The lower chamber will work up a rule on Tuesday that will allow for debate and likely passage of a $982 billion continuing resolution, probably on Thursday, that will take over for the current stopgap measure when it expires on March 27.
The bill sets spending for the Defense and Veterans and Military Construction projects.
President Obama and congressional leaders have agreed that they want to avoid any threat of a government shutdown, especially while the economic recovery remains sluggish.
The House Appropriations Committee introduced the spending bill on Monday, which assumes the $85 billion sequester stays in place but tries to ensure a soft landing for some of those cuts at the Pentagon and other agencies.
The measure calls for a shift of $10.4 billion into the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance account to provide more flexibility to readiness and training programs.
While the bill is expected to attract the support of House conservatives, who won’t get their wish of including policy riders that would defund the healthcare law, some House Democrats aren’t particularly excited about it.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said she would like to see the bill include an agreement on the automatic spending cuts that went into effect on Friday.
So far, Democrats and Republicans have failed to put together a package that can get through Congress to replace the sequester.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are planning to discuss a way forward for government funding on Tuesday.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is pushing for a bill that funds the entire government instead of just Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Congress heads out of town for a two-week recess on March 22, giving them the better part of three weeks to push through a spending bill for the rest of this year and avert a shutdown while they start crafting their budgets for next year.
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR
Budget balance: The Senate Budget Committee meets on Tuesday to discuss how lawmakers can tackle the deficit by eliminating wasteful spending in the tax code.
As a fiscal 2014 budget evolves in the Senate, the hearing will give Democrats another chance to push for increased revenue from the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers to address the national debt.
Republicans are sticking to their belief that deficit reduction should be achieved through spending cuts and that President Obama got the only tax increases they’ll give on Jan. 1.
Getting budgeting: A handful of House Appropriations subcommittees will hold a slew of hearings weighing in on the budget of several departments — Treasury, Energy and Commerce — along with funding levels for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol.
WHAT’S ON TAP THIS WEEK
— Here’s a roundup of the what’s happening on Capitol Hill this week.
ISM Services: The Institute for Supply Management will release its February report for the non-manufacturing sector, which accounts for about 90 percent of the economy and covers industries ranging from utilities and retailing to healthcare and finance.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Spending bill adds $2 billion for embassy protection in the wake of Benghazi attack
— Baucus makes US-EU trade deal a top priority
— Credit rating agencies shrug off sequester, say more cuts needed
— Administration says international trade and travel harmed by sequester cuts
— Fed governor: Regulators show promise in ending ‘too big to fail’
— Heller calls for audit of Senate operations to find spending cuts
— Down payment rule could torpedo housing industry, groups warn
— Report: IRS approach to nonprofit journalism needs to be modernized
— Obama taps Burwell for budget chief
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