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Senate Has Long List of Bills Lining Up for Action

The Senate will return to work next week with a laundry list of priorities that kicks off with a procedural vote Tuesday on an unemployment benefits extension bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will continue negotiations on a health care measure that he hopes to bring to the floor in the coming weeks. Depending on the time frame, Reid could cancel the Veterans Day recess scheduled for Nov. 11-13 to move on the health care bill that will likely be on the floor until December. “At this point, it’s scheduled,— Reid spokeswoman Regan LaChapelle said of the mid-November recess. “But obviously we’re going to do what we need to do to complete our work.— The House is scheduled to recess over the same period. The unemployment measure, which would extend expiring benefits an additional 14 weeks, plus six more weeks for the hardest hit states, has been slow to move through the Senate despite bipartisan support. Tuesday’s vote will be on limiting debate on a motion to proceed to the bill.Republicans want to attach an amendment that would extend the popular homebuyers’ tax credit, but with no way to pay for the $16.7 billion cost, Democrats have been cool to take up the issue. If both sides do not reach an agreement on amendments, which also include GOP measures on immigration and the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the unemployment measure could take up the bulk of floor time next week. Aides to Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said both sides continue negotiating to reach a deal on amendments. The House and Senate next week must also pass another stopgap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, to prevent a government shutdown. The measure is necessary because Congress’ fiscal 2010 appropriation bills are overdue. The current CR expires Oct. 31st. The House is expected to pass a monthlong CR first, with the Senate to immediately follow. Reid hopes to clear the Commerce, Justice and science appropriations bill, which has also been tripped up over amendments, namely a measure sponsored by GOP Sens. Bob Bennett (Utah) and David Vitter (La.) that would require the census to include a question on immigration status. Without an agreement on that amendment, widely unpopular among Democrats, Reid will likely have to file a procedural motion to advance the Commerce, Justice and science appropriations bill. Also awaiting consideration is the military construction and Veteran Affairs spending bill, which passed the House in July. Congress has approved four of the 12 spending bills that fund the government.