A statue of an old man representing the "Old World" decorates the Christopher Columbus Memorial fountain in front of Union Station and in view of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Mary Calvert/Reuters)

With negotiators still working Sunday on a last-ditch plan to avert the “fiscal cliff,” House and Senate lawmakers will turn their attention to other issues in the afternoon in anticipation of an eventual vote on the marquee legislative issue of the year.

The Senate reconvenes at 1 p.m. to confirm two Obama administration appointees: William Joseph Baer to serve as an assistant attorney general, and Carol J. Galante, to serve as an assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Confirmation votes are expected before 3 p.m., when the two party caucuses plan to meet separately to discuss the status of negotiations.

Over in the House, lawmakers reconvene at 2 p.m. to consider at least 13 pieces of non-fiscal legislation, including bills related to education benefits and burial rights for military veterans, changes in the nation's drywall standards, and bills related to foreign trade, foreign aid and how to establish a commission to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Though the bills permit Congress to put the finishing touches on a few unresolved, if modest, issues of concern, House and Senate leaders will use the time to discuss the contours of a deal with lawmakers whose support might be wavering. In the House, the Republican Whip team will use the afternoon to gauge the feelings of more conservative members before the conference meets around 6:30 p.m. Same goes on the Democratic side, where leaders will need to determine whether they'll be able to vote in unison for a final agreement -- if a deal is struck in the Senate.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost


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