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Congress returns to work after a weeklong recess and begins the arduous task of passing annual spending bills to fund all federal agencies in 2013.

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This week in Congress: Hill grapples over Keystone XL pipeline

Congress returns to work after a weeklong recess and begins the arduous task of passing annual spending bills to fund all federal agencies in 2013.

Congress returns to work after a weeklong recess and begins the arduous task of passing annual spending bills to fund all federal agencies in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Senate will focus on legislation to stop rate hikes on subsidized Stafford loans for college students, which are scheduled to double on July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

The Senate will also vote on the nominations of Jacqueline Nguyen to be circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit; Kristine Gerhard Baker to be district judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas; and John Lee to be district judge for the Northern District of Illinois.

Conferees from the House and Senate will hold their first meeting Tuesday to begin hammering out the differences in the highway funding bill before the June deadline – but the sticking point will certainly be language in the House version that bypasses the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.

The Hill reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has already made it very clear Senate Democratic conferees will not agree to include that provision in the final measure.

“Personally, I’m not — I’m not one of the conferees — but personally I think Keystone is a program that we’re not going, that I am not going to help in any way I can,” Reid said. “The president feels that way. I do, too.”

Whether the Keystone language makes it will likely come down to final negotiations between Reid and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Hearings of note scheduled this week include a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee event titled “A Review of Solutions to Reform, Reorganize, or Retire the General Services Administration (GSA).”

A Science, Space and Technology subcommittee hearing will also examine spending at the National Science Foundation.

Written By

Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative journalist whose enterprise reporting has sparked numerous congressional investigations that led to laws signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She won the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in 2009 for her report on dangerous drug experiments by the federal government on war veterans, which prompted internal investigations and needed reforms within the Veterans Affairs Department. The report also captured first place for investigative reporting by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Awards for news and politics. Her breaking stories have been picked up and followed by major news publications and periodicals, including Readers Digest, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard, as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Washington Post. With nearly 20 years of experience in Washington as a newspaper reporter and as a Capitol Hill staffer for Western lawmakers, she will now lead Human Events‚?? coverage of energy and environmental issues. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades -- on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court. Audrey‚??s email is AHudson@EaglePub.Co

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