The Senate will vote on the expanded Finance Committee version of the economic stimulus bill. If the cloture vote fails, consideration will move to the narrower House-passed stimulus plan. Each of the three major Senate add-on provisions to the House package will be offered as amendments: an extension of unemployment benefits, food stamps, and additional programs; an expansion of the LIHEAP heating assistance program; and additional rebate amounts for senior citizens and disabled veterans.
The Senate will resume consideration of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act intelligence program overhaul, beginning debate on 15 amendments to the bill on Monday afternoon. The most controversial amendments deal with telecom immunity and executive authority to conduct surveillance and will require a 60-vote threshold to pass. The Senate is expected to finish debate on FISA by Tuesday in order to give them enough time to negotiate an agreement with the House before the temporary extension expires on February 15.
The House considers the College Opportunity and Affordability Act (H.R. 4137), which renews the Higher Education Act, set to expire March 31. The bill will increase from $5,800 to $9,000 the maximum Pell Grant award and allow the grants to be used year-round; allow the federal government to penalize states that substantially decrease their contributions to public colleges and universities; and increase the amount of information lenders and schools must provide students about loan rates and school costs.
The president unveiled his $3.1 trillion budget for fiscal year 2009 this morning. The House and Senate will hold a number of hearings in the coming weeks on the budget. Many executive branch officials will testify before Congress to justify the budget, including OMB Director Jim Nussle; Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen; Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman; Transportation Secretary Mary Peters; Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt; and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.