Members of the House and Senate don’t return to Washington until next week. But when lawmakers do get back to the Capitol, they'll have a full agenda awaiting them. Washington, D.C. reporter Geoff Bennett has the story.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A divided Congress ended 2013 with a major compromise: The first budget agreement in nearly four years. That momentum will serve lawmakers well next week when they pick up where they left off on a host of agenda items, including the Farm Bill. That legislation covers agricultural and food policy. But a partisan fight over funding for the food stamp program derailed the bill.
North Carolina Democrat Mike McIntyre is one of the negotiators who hashed out a new agreement. Just before the winter recess, he said he was optimistic about the long overdue legislation.
"We’ve got it in a situation where it will be in position to pass as soon as we come back in January," McIntyre said.
Democrats and Republicans could try again for comprehensive immigration reform, but it's a hot button issue that may not play well in a midterm election year.
And topping the Senate's to do list is renewing federal benefits for the long-term unemployed. Congress let the benefits expire last month, effectively cutting off unemployment checks for over one million Americans out of work longer than six months.
"Failing to extend federal unemployment benefits really represents yet another self-inflicted wound on the U.S. economy. This is because unemployment benefits have actually been shown to spur economic growth because you're putting money into the pockets of people who will spend it," said Sarah Ayres, Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says his chamber will vote early next week on extending long term jobless benefits for another three months, even if there's no promise of action in the Republican-led House.