Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Congress Returns Amid Intensified Focus on Terror Threats After Paris Attacks

As lawmakers mull the aftermath of the Paris attacks, they’ll keep working on a highway bill and a handful of other measures.

Fri­day’s ter­ror at­tacks in Par­is will weigh heav­ily on the minds of law­makers as Con­gress re­turns to Wash­ing­ton to hold a quick one-week ses­sion be­fore an­oth­er break for Thanks­giv­ing.

On Wed­nes­day, the House com­mit­tees on Home­land Se­cur­ity and For­eign Af­fairs will hold a joint hear­ing on “The Rise of Rad­ic­al­ism: Grow­ing Ter­ror­ist Sanc­tu­ar­ies and the Threat to the U.S. Home­land”—a sub­ject of even great­er im­port­ance in the wake of Par­is. Bey­ond that, it’s un­clear what, if any­thing, Con­gress may do to dir­ectly ad­dress the at­tacks and their af­ter­math. On Thursday, a House Ju­di­ciary sub­com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing on the Syr­i­an refugee crisis and its im­plic­a­tions for U.S. se­cur­ity.

On the floor, mean­while, the House is ex­pec­ted to take up a hand­ful of fin­an­cial ser­vices bills. And both cham­bers may have to pass an­oth­er short-term high­way bill if they are un­able to quickly agree on a six-year bill to fund the coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects.

Here’s what else is on tap:


Re­pub­lic­ans on Cap­it­ol Hill are tak­ing aim at White House ef­forts to help craft an in­ter­na­tion­al ac­cord on glob­al warm­ing, at­tacks that come ahead of high-stakes United Na­tions cli­mate change talks in Par­is that—des­pite heightened se­cur­ity con­cerns after Fri­day’s ter­ror at­tacks— are still sched­uled to be­gin in two weeks.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing the Sen­ate En­vir­on­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee—which is led by James In­hofe, who calls glob­al warm­ing a “hoax”—will hold a hear­ing on the up­com­ing U.N. sum­mit. The House Sci­ence Com­mit­tee will hold its own hear­ing that af­ter­noon titled “The Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Empty Prom­ises for the In­ter­na­tion­al Cli­mate Treaty.”

The hear­ings are part of a wider GOP as­sault on Pres­id­ent Obama’s second-term cli­mate-change agenda. A spokes­man for Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell said the Sen­ate will vote “soon” on res­ol­u­tions to over­turn EPA’s car­bon emis­sions rules for power plants, but he did not of­fer a spe­cif­ic timeline.


The House Fin­an­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing Wed­nes­day morn­ing, ex­amin­ing the agenda of the Se­cur­it­ies and Ex­change Com­mis­sion. Chair­wo­man Mary Jo White will testi­fy. On Tues­day, the Ways and Means Hu­man Re­sources Sub­com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing on les­sons from oth­er coun­tries’ wel­fare re­form ex­per­i­ences.


Re­con­cili­ation is sure to be a buzzword around Cap­it­ol Hill this week, after, ac­cord­ing to the New York Times, the Sen­ate par­lia­ment­ari­an ruled that some ele­ments of the House-passed bill can’t be ex­ped­ited, and Demo­crats say that the up­per cham­ber would need 60 votes to re­peal both the in­di­vidu­al and em­ploy­er man­dates. But Re­pub­lic­ans say that’s not ex­actly the case.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the nom­in­a­tion of Dr. Robert Cal­iff to serve as the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mis­sion­er is un­der­way with a Sen­ate Health, Edu­ca­tion, Labor, and Pen­sions Com­mit­tee hear­ing Tues­day. Later that day, the Sen­ate Fin­ance Com­mit­tee will have a hear­ing titled “Phys­i­cian Owned Dis­trib­ut­ors: Are They Harm­ful to Pa­tients and Pay­ers?”

Also on Tues­day, the House En­ergy and Com­merce Health Sub­com­mit­tee will hear from FDA and Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices about their roles in the reg­u­la­tion of dia­gnost­ic tests. And as the weath­er chills—and flu sea­son be­gins—the En­ergy and Com­merce Over­sight and In­vest­ig­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee will ex­am­ine on Thursday how agen­cies have pre­pared for the in­flu­enza after last year’s vac­cine wasn’t an ex­act match for a com­mon flu strain, caus­ing many to fall ill.


All five mem­bers of the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion will ap­pear be­fore the House Com­mu­nic­a­tions and Tech­no­logy Sub­com­mit­tee on Tues­day morn­ing for an over­sight hear­ing. Re­pub­lic­ans have been furi­ous with the FCC since it en­acted ex­pans­ive net neut­ral­ity reg­u­la­tions earli­er this year that they claim will stifle in­vest­ment in the broad­band in­dustry. The agency is also pre­par­ing for a com­plex auc­tion of TV air­waves to cel­lu­lar car­ri­ers next year and is ex­amin­ing its reg­u­la­tions of the TV in­dustry. 

The Sen­ate Com­merce, Sci­ence, and Trans­port­a­tion Com­mit­tee will hold a mark-up of nine bills on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, in­clud­ing one that would en­cour­age fed­er­al agen­cies to sell their air­waves to the private sec­tor, and an­oth­er that would bar com­pan­ies from us­ing con­tracts to pre­vent their cus­tom­ers from cri­ti­ciz­ing them. 

The House Com­merce, Man­u­fac­tur­ing, and Trade Sub­com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing on Thursday morn­ing on the po­ten­tial eco­nom­ic im­pact of com­mer­cial drones. Al­though oth­er con­gres­sion­al pan­els have ex­amined the Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to au­thor­ize and reg­u­late com­mer­cial drones, the trade sub­com­mit­tee has jur­is­dic­tion over pri­vacy and con­sumer safety is­sues. 


With the Par­is at­tacks oc­cupy­ing the at­ten­tion of lead­ers around the world, Pres­id­ent Obama is hop­ping from sum­mit to sum­mit this week as he spends the week over­seas. On Monday, he starts the day in An­t­a­lya, Tur­key, wrap­ping up the G-20 sum­mit he began on Sunday. Then it’s off to Ma­nila in the Phil­ip­pines, where he will at­tend the Asia Pa­cific Eco­nom­ic Co­oper­a­tion for­um on Wed­nes­day and Thursday. On Fri­day, he goes to Ku­ala Lum­pur, Malay­sia, for two sum­mits – the As­so­ci­ation of South­east Asi­an Na­tions and then the East Asia Sum­mit, two or­gan­iz­a­tions that in­clude 17 coun­tries im­port­ant to Obama’s vaunted “pivot to Asia.”

Caitlin OwensGeorge E. Condon Jr.Eric GarciaBrendan Sasso and Ben Geman contributed to this article.