WASHINGTON-House Republicans are kicking off February with a hearing to slam President Joe Biden's border policies - the first of multiple investigations GOP opponents have planned this month to hold the administration accountable and appeal to their conservative base.
The month also begins with a White House meeting between Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy as they begin difficult conversations about federal spending and the debt limit.
And next Tuesday Biden is set to deliver the State of the Union against a backdrop of mounting tension with a narrow Republican majority that has vowed to use its subpoena power to investigate Biden over everything from pandemic spending to his family business ties.
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What's happening in the House?
The 118th Congress came in like a lion and ended January like a lamb, with the Senate still getting organized and House Republicans just starting committee work after 15 rounds of voting to name a speaker - the first time in 100 years the usually proforma vote took more than one ballot.
Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Ind., sees February as a "return to normal" - a pre-COVID normal. In Congress, the lawmakers in the whip positions are responsible for corralling - or "whipping" - votes in their caucuses.
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Emmer sees himself as the conduit between the 222 Republicans from different areas, with different geographies and constituencies, and leadership.
As majority whip, he will be "direct about what we can and can't do," he told USA TODAY.
After the C-SPAN-covered first days of January featuring speaker votes that went into the night, in February Republicans will be back to more regular practice, moving bills through committees to the floor.
Where are Democrats and Republicans on the debt ceiling fight?
A looming debt ceiling deadline is still months away in June, but Biden and McCarthy are starting the conversation that could determine whether global markets go into a tailspin.
Republicans are reluctant to raise the limit, though leadership has said they won't allow the U.S. to default. In return, Republicans want to cut spending.
Democrats say Republicans want to cut benefits like Social Security and Medicare. McCarthy has said those programs won't be touched, but Democrats remain concerned.
"These aren't just programs, they're promises," Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., told USA TODAY.
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From his perspective as chairperson of the Special Senate Committee on Aging, millions of older Americans could face "the crushing effects of poverty and poor health" without Social Security and Medicare.
"I do think in the end, when seniors threatened, folks in both parties will band together," he said.
When are the Biden hearings?
House GOP-led committees will begin the month by investigating their party's top opponent: President Biden. They have several inquiries planned to investigate the president and his administration, and they will add more to the schedule later this month:
Feb. 1: House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on transportation and supply chain challenges
Feb. 1: House Judiciary hearing on "The Biden Border Crisis: Part I"
Feb. 1: House Oversight on pandemic spending
Feb. 7: House Oversight on the border crisis
Feb. 8: House Oversight on Twitter's decision-making about stories on Hunter Biden's laptop and Biden family business ties
Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden hearings in February begin with House GOP border investigation