The Senate has several key policy and political issues to resolve in the final hours of this Congress -- including votes on two dozen pending presidential nominations and on extending tax breaks and so-called terrorism risk insurance.
The upper chamber finished its big task over the weekend, passing a $1.1 trillion budget that funds the federal government, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, through September 2015.
However, senators still must vote on 13 judicial and 11 administrative-post nominations, among them such controversial nominees as Carolyn Colvin to run the Social Security Administration and Vivek Murthy as surgeon general.
Murthy could be confirmed as early as Monday evening. But Senate Democrats canceled a procedural vote on Murthy’s nomination after the GOP protested his nomination, which puts his confirmation in some doubt.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed he'd keep the chamber open as long as needed to plow through the nomination process, even if that means another weekend lame duck session.
A nominee needs only 51 votes to be confirmed, compared to 60 before Reid changed the rule, a move known as the “nuclear option.”
The Senate also must reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which helps insurance companies cover Americans in the event of terrorist attacks, and extend a package of roughly 50 tax breaks, which expired in 2013 and have since been renewed.
The Republican-controlled House has already passed the insurance and tax-extender legislation.