Outlook: Union Rules, Budget Endgame, and the Slow March to Fast-Track

While the House enjoys recess, the Senate will focus on Iran and a few other items.

The scaffolded US Capitol is seen at sunset on October 28, 2014 in Washington, DC with a compass marker in the walkway looking West. The US Capitol dome will undergo its first comprehensive repairs in more than half a century this autumn, installing a donut-shaped canopy to protect visitors to the historic structure. The two-year, USD 60 million project is aimed at repairing nearly 1,300 cracks that have emerged in the nine-million-pound (4.1-million-kilogram) cast iron dome, according to the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) office. Construction on the dome began in 1855. Work symbolically continued through the US Civil War and the structure was eventually completed in 1866. (National Journal)

While the Iran debate will continue to make the biggest waves, the Senate will kick off the week on Monday with a vote to override a presidential veto of a law concerning union elections. Congress passed the law disapproving of a National Labor Relations Board rule change shortening the length of union elections in March on a 53-47 vote. Given that 67 votes will be needed to override, the Monday evening vote is expected to fail.

Also possible this week are votes in the Senate on the conference budget resolution, which passed the House last week, and Trade Promotion Authority. With Iran dominating the calendar, the budget resolution could be brought up as a privileged motion sometime this week. But if the ire of some Republican members over the Iran bill continues to slow the measure, consideration of TPA could be pushed into next week.


The House is in apparent agreement over a National Security Agency reform package that easily cleared the Judiciary Committee last week and appears to have Speaker John Boehner's blessings. But while the lower chamber will vote on the USA Freedom Act next week after it returns from recess, questions remain over whether the Senate has any appetite for reining in the spy agency's domestic-phone-records dragnet. With time running out before the June 1 sunset of a key Patriot Act surveillance provision, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and members of the Intelligence Committee need to act soon if they want to avoid a standoff with their House colleagues, many of whom say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's push for a clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act has no chance in their chamber.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee will also hold a hearing on the newly introduced Patent Act, which would reform several aspects of the patent-litigation landscape in a bid to reduce so-called patent trolling. Chairman Grassley has said he hopes a markup of the bill can take place before the Memorial Day recess.


Ahead of wildfire season, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine the federal government's role in fighting wildfires and potential improvements to fire operations.

Senate Republicans will put the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations to curb carbon pollution from power plants under the microscope on Tuesday during a hearing of the Environment and Public Works Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will testify at the hearing, which will focus on the legal implications of the rule.

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The Senate will vote on the budget agreement next week, which includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and leaves the use of reconciliation in the hands of the committees with jurisdiction over Obamacare.

The Senate Heath, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the promise of precision medicine. Outside of Congress, the Council on Foreign Relations will hold a discussion on the future of the Affordable Care Act and its implications for the U.S.'s competitiveness.


President Obama starts his week in New York City Monday, and wraps it up with a visit to his 50th and final state on Friday.

The president goes to Lehman College in the Bronx Monday to announce the creation of the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit designed to promote Obama's initiative to mentor young minority men. Monday afternoon, he will tape an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. He'll wrap up his New York visit with fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee.

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Obama hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House on Tuesday evening, and on Thursday morning will honor the Air Force Academy's football team at the White House for winning the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, presented to the best team among the service academies. He then flies to Portland, Ore., for a DNC fundraiser there.

On Friday morning, Obama will visit Nike headquarters outside Portland as part of his push for legislation that would give him fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals. The president hopes getting that bill through Congress will make it easier to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement among a dozen Pacific Rim countries.

Obama ends his week with a commencement address at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D. Obama has pushed the idea of making community colleges tuition-free for students all over the country, and the Watertown school was chosen because it has among the nation's highest community college graduation rates in the nation, the White House says.

With his travel to South Dakota, Obama will have visited all 50 states as president.

Clare Foran, Dustin Volz, and Caitlin Owens contributed to this article