Senate returns to a full plate

June 25th, 2015 8:59 am

First Posted: 4/7/2013

WASHINGTON — Congress returns Monday from a two-week spring recess with gun control and immigration high on the Senate’s agenda.

Senators could start debating Democratic-written gun legislation before week’s end. But leaders also might decide to give negotiators more time to seek a deal on expanding background checks for firearms buyers.

Passing the expanded background checks would be viewed as a victory for gun-control advocates after Democratic leaders made it clear that supporters were nowhere close to getting a majority of votes in favor of reinstituting an assault weapons ban.

Both measures have been a priority for President Barack Obama since the Dec. 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. On Monday Obama travels to Connecticut to again make the case for gun legislation, with a speech at the University of Hartford.

“He’s been working with both sides to try to get the strongest bill we can that has enforceable background checks,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

The National Rifle Association opposes both the assault weapons ban and the expanded background checks.

Also high on Congress’ agenda is immigration, where a decisive moment is approaching.

Bipartisan groups in the House and Senate are expected to present legislation as early as this week aimed at securing the U.S. border, fixing legal immigration and granting legal status to millions who are in the United States without authorization. That will open months of debate on the politically combustible issue, with votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee expected later this month.

The House is looking at a busy, if more low-profile agenda in the coming weeks.

In its first week back, the House will consider a bill that would prevent the National Labor Relations Board from issuing rules until a dispute over administration appointees is resolved.

Among the bills that could see action in later weeks is a measure requiring the Treasury to pay principle and interest on debt held by the public if the nation’s borrowing limit is reached but not extended.