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House Waits for Senate’s Next Steps

It’ll be déjà vu on Capitol Hill this week as House Members wait to see if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can round up enough votes to pass unemployment insurance and financial regulatory reforms.

The House and Senate broke for the July Fourth recess without passing either measure after Reid was unable to muster enough GOP support to break a filibuster of both bills.

Although Democratic aides said they think they are within striking distance of passing both bills, Reid will kick off the July work period by continuing debate on a small-business jobs bill that will easily pass.

Once Reid has the 60 votes needed to pass one or both measures, he’s expected to quickly shift gears to move them out of the chamber before any potential deal collapses. But at this point it remains unclear when, or if, he’ll be able to put together the 60 votes needed.

House Members, meanwhile, will be largely biding their time next week awaiting cues from the Senate.

A Democratic leadership aide said House leaders were “ready and waiting for Senate action” on a House-passed bill extending unemployment benefits for five months as well as on the emergency war supplemental that the House sent back to the Senate on July 1 after adding $16 billion in domestic items, including $10 billion to stem teacher layoffs. Complicating matters is a White House threat to veto the bill over an $800 million cut to education reform programs that House Democrats included to help pay for the added domestic spending.

With the supplemental and unemployment balls back in the Senate’s court, the House will in the meantime consider a bill to make it easier for federal workers to telecommute as well as legislation overhauling the National Flood Insurance Program. The telecommuting bill in May failed to garner the two-thirds vote needed to pass under an expedited procedure that bars amendments and limits floor debate.

The House will not reconvene until Tuesday, when votes will be postponed until 6 p.m.

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