As we just heard, jobless benefits are a top priority for Congress when lawmakers get back to work tomorrow. But of course, there are more big issues to resolve. And joining us to run through the rest of the 2014 congressional agenda is NPR's political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.
In November, 222,000 Californians opened their mailboxes to find a warning: Unemployment benefits were scheduled to end in December.
While Congress was inching closer to passing a budget, Emergency Unemployment Compensation was not part of the deal. That's the long-term jobless benefits: extra federal money that allows unemployed workers to collect payments for months longer than they could in better economic times.
Sure enough, on Dec. 18, Congress passed that budget and packed up for Christmas recess, leaving those extended benefits to expire just 10 days later.
Former first lady Barbara Bush is home after more than five days of treatment at a Houston hospital. She had pneumonia.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath says the 88-year-old wife of one president and mother of another had a couple "truly great days" in which she responded well to treatment.
When Congress returns next week, House Republicans will welcome their Democratic colleagues with a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't vote.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has let it be known that the House will vote on legislation ostensibly meant to protect Americans from HealthCare.gov data breaches. Several Republicans have introduced HealthCare.gov-related security bills, so Cantor has plenty of material to work with.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Congress returns to work next Monday and both chambers will have a little more than a week to pass an appropriations bill to keep the government open. A bipartisan budget agreement in December helped reduce the chance of a shutdown, but as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, there's still plenty left to bicker about.
Federal agencies are proposing new rules for handling gun buyers' background checks, in changes the Obama administration says will "keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands." The changes include a clarification of rules barring firearm possession due to mental health problems.
With November midterm elections looming, 2014 promises much more political catnip than 2013.
It's a year with a full roster of House, Senate and gubernatorial races, but 2014 is also likely to prove to be another critical period for the Affordable Care Act as an important deadline comes early and the Supreme Court takes up another aspect of the health law.
Here are some of the most important dates to watch:
The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court not to extend a temporary injunction given to a group of Colorado nuns who want to be exempt from some rules in the new health care law. The rules relate to the requirement that most employers provide health insurance that includes coverage of birth control costs.