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Can Congress Get Back to Governing?

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Budget conferees will meet next week in public to kick off the conference committee.

And Senate Democrats hope to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. They’re inching closer to having the 60 votes needed to beat back a filibuster on the gay rights measure.

A bipartisan energy efficiency bill was left hanging on the Senate floor when the government shutdown standoff began. Of course, any bill coming to the floor is likely to invite another effort by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to offer his amendment to end the employer contribution to health insurance for members and staff.

Over the next week, the House is expected to run through some outstanding items on the suspension calendar.

There is also at least a theoretical chance that House Republican leadership could bring something immigration-related to the floor amid a renewed push by President Barack Obama, although they have yet to figure out a way to do so that keeps the bulk of their conference on board without losing Democratic votes.

October was originally thought to be the pivotal month for the immigration debate, but time got eaten away with September’s focus on a possible military strike in Syria, followed by the weekslong struggle to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Republican leaders have been privately mulling whether it’s politically necessary for them to move forward on immigration at all.

But some recent developments suggest that House floor votes on immigration bills before the year’s end remain a possibility. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla, and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are separately pursuing legislation that would deal with certain aspects of the citizenship question.

And Doug Heye, spokesman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., confirmed that his boss is still working with the Judiciary Committee on the “Kids Act,” which would address the status of the “DREAMers,” undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally by their parents.

“I still think that immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Wednesday. “I’m hopeful.”

“We hope to move something before the year’s end,” Heye told CQ Roll Call on Friday, “but there’s no specific timetable right now.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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