Federal Relations

This Week in Congress

The Senate resumes its gun control debate this week, beginning today with the most substantive and contentious issue: a bipartisan proposal to require background checks of gun purchasers in commercial and Internet sales. It’s the start of deliberations that could keep that chamber busy until the Memorial Day recess. We also expect to see an immigration reform legislation unveiled this week in the Senate.

The House will consider four minor bills under suspension today, including measures that would bar federal employees and contractors who owe back taxes from being employed or awarded contracts worth more than $150,000. The House will focus on cybersecurity legislation for the remainder of the week.

In addition to floor action, both chambers plan more than 40 congressional hearings this week to review President Obama’s FY14 budget as lawmakers weigh the potential for a grand bargain on deficit reduction (to replace the sequester). The $3.77 billion budget request assumes that sequestration has been turned off, and therefore the FY 2014 top-line spending number does not include cuts required by sequestration. Conveniently, the budget request also makes comparisons with the FY 2012 enacted spending levels, which do not take into account the sequester. The White House was able to do this because technically they have 30 days from the time the final FY13 continuing resolution was passed (March 22nd) to calculate the final spending numbers, including cuts from the sequester. The budget also assumes that Congress will consider increased tax revenue and entitlement reform, both very sticky political subjects.