The House and Senate are back in session this week. Today the Senate will consider its first judicial nomination since Republicans took over the majority in January. Later this week the Senate is expected to consider H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act, which passed the House before the April recess and contains a permanent “doc fix” to replace the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. The bill would also extend CHIP funding for two years as well as extend a number of health programs that expired on March 31. The House is scheduled to consider several bills addressing tax issues, including H.R. 622, which would permanently allow taxpayers to deduct state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes, and H.R. 1105, which repeals the federal estate tax and reduces top marginal rates for the gift tax.

The first two spending bills are scheduled for markup this week in the House, with the Energy and Water Subcommittee and Military Construction – Veterans Affairs Subcommittee scheduled to meet on Wednesday. The House and Senate are also moving forward on a concurrent budget resolution (for H Con Res 27 and S Con Res 11 respectively), with conferees possibly convening as early as this week. Two challenges identified for the conferencing process include agreeing on defense spending language in the budget resolution and deciding how broadly to use the reconciliation process to repeal and replace the federal health care law. Lawmakers are not expected to complete work on the concurrent budget resolution by the statutory deadline of April 15, but leaders seem confident that a deal can be reached shortly thereafter.