Boehner signals support for immigration reform
While still opposed to a comprehensive immigration reform package like the one passed in the Senate last year, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has signaled that he is willing to work on the issue on a piecemeal basis this year.
Boehner recently hired Rebecca Tallent, a longtime immigration advisor to Senator John McCain (R-AZ). The hire, coupled with Boehner's recent willingness to criticize Tea Party groups, has given immigration reform advocates hope that the House will tackle the issue this year in a meaningful way despite opposition from his conservative colleagues.
Supporters of immigration reform are up against the clock this year: 2014 is an election year, and because of the divisive nature of the issue, any legislation would need to be passed before the summer.
Appropriators work through the holidays
While most of the members and staff left Washington over the holiday break, senior leadership and staff for the Appropriations Committees in both chambers remained hard at work.
Appropriators in both chambers are working on spending bills in the wake of the Murray-Ryan budget deal reached earlier in December. Leadership in both parties says they are committed to passing something before the Jan. 15 deadline.
While remaining tight lipped about the details, appropriators are said to be working on an omnibus bill - one that would take the place of 12 separate spending bills - with leadership in both parties and both chambers working hard to minimize the number of potentially contentious policy riders.
House GOP to open 2014 with Obamacare Security Breach Bill
House Republicans will start 2014 with legislation aimed at security requirements for the health insurance exchanges that launched as part of the Affordable Care Act.
The House next week will consider legislation that would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to notify consumers whenever a security breach occurs, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Thursday in a memo to Republicans.
The question of data security on the exchanges is hotly contested. Republicans argue the administration is downplaying concerns to protect the law's standing and encourage enrollment, while Democrats argue the GOP is overstating the problems and crafting legislation to bring more attention to them.
Some 2.1 million Americans signed up for private health insurance on the exchanges in time for Jan. 1 coverage, as long as they paid their premiums. The Obama administration has repeatedly said in Congressional hearings that it does not believe consumer data to be at risk because the data hub used by HealthCare.gov to verify identity and income does not store personal information.
Senate will vote on extending unemployment benefits
When the Senate returns next week, they will consider a bill that will temporarily extend federal benefits for the long-term unemployed. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is confident that a bipartisan bill extending benefits will pass in the Senate as early as Monday.
The Murray-Ryan two-year budget deal that was reached earlier in December failed to include an extension of jobless benefits for those who have been out of work for more than six months. It is estimated that as many as 1.3 million Americans lost benefits when they expired this week.
While Reid is confident a bill will pass in the Senate, odds remain much slimmer that the Republican controlled House will take up such a measure.
Social conservatives meet to plan 2014
Virginia 10th Congressional District Special: Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL) announced he would not seek the Republican nomination to replace retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).
Alaska: Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) launched a radio ad this week touting his work to expand drilling and mining in the Arctic. Begich is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senators up in 2014.
Louisiana: State Rep. Paul Hollis (R-LA) will formally announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate in mid-January. Hollis is seeking the Republican nomination to face incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
Montana: Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D-MT) said he will seek an appointment to the seat currently held by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), once Baucus resigns after his confirmation to serve as the next Ambassador to China.
South Dakota: Former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) announced he will seek to return to the Senate - this time as an independent.
Washington by the numbers
49 - According to a new CNN poll, Republicans lead on the generic ballot question 49 to 44 percent. This is up from a two-point lead in November
They said what?
"I'm sticking to my record, and talk is cheap. You're going to see action like you've never seen before." - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announcing he is running for re-election despite admitting to smoking crack.
"President Obama has named a top former Microsoft executive to run and fix the Obamacare website. Hey, how about fixing Windows first?" –Jay Leno
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