Election-year politics are set to take center stage on a limited congressional agenda as lawmakers return to work on Monday after the winter recess, the Associated Press reports.
While Republicans plan to focus on President Barack Obama’s beleaguered health care law, Democrats will put their energies on restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and raising the minimum wage, the AP says.
Republicans see a gold mine in the problem-plagued rollout of Obamacare, as the GOP seeks to hold onto its House majority and wrest control of the Democratic-led Senate. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) plans to propose legislation to address the security of personal data, part of his party's effort "to protect the American people from the harmful effects of Obamacare," the AP reports. Further, the AP reports that Republicans also promise closer scrutiny of the administration's tally of enrollment numbers in the program.
For their part, Democrats will push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour and extend unemployment benefits, attempting to underscore the party’s concern for the less fortunate and highlight its efforts to deal with income inequality. The concerns register with liberals, the core Democratic voters critical in low-turnout midterm elections, the AP says.
An extension of federal benefits for an estimated 1.3 million Americans who saw their payments stopped on Dec. 28 is more than an economic issue, said U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House.
"It's about real people, people with families struggling to put food on the table, to make ends meet, including … 200,000 military veterans who are among these folks who are losing their benefits," he told reporters Friday, the AP reports.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a vote on bipartisan legislation by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to extend jobless benefits for three months. The president is slated to argue his case for the extension the following day and has scheduled a White House event with some of those whose benefits expired at the end of December. Republicans have hinted that they would go along with the extension if they could extract cuts to pay for them from elsewhere.
Read more at the Associated Press.