Once again this week, both Houses of Congress are in session, and they’re starting to get a little busier. This week, they’re actually working on issues that we care about. Over in the Senate, they are expected to take up the America COMPETES Act (S.761) sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM). The House leadership takes up its “innovation” agenda, which will include some of the same elements — beefing up federal research dollars and encouraging math and science education. These are all good for manufacturers, as we are at the leading edge of innovation and it begins there.
Here’s a link to the House plans for the week and here’s a link to the list of hearings over in the Senate this week. Some highlights:
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing on Supreme Court’s recent decision on EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Here’s a little background on this latest imbroglio between Coyote enviros and the Roadrunner EPA.
Also on Tuesday, the House Education & Labor Committee is having a hearing on “Ensuring Equal Pay for Women.” For the record, we’re in favor — who’s not? And, it happens to be the law. But this is a political issue that’s been dusted off from labor’s old playbook. You’re seeing a lot of that around here these days.
On Tuesday (you can see Tuesday’s kinda a busy day), the House Education and Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee — is having a hearing entitled, “Have OSHA Standards Kept Up With Workplace Hazards?” Considering there’s an OSHA “general duty clause” that requires all employers to provide a safe workplace, we’d say “yes,” but no doubt the new owners of that committee, organized labor, will have a different view. They of course want a regulation for every substance. The title of the hearing sound like they’ll probably drift into the new bogeyman, nanotechnology, so small that only the labor skates can see the danger. It’s a lot of voodoo, but since it’s new, they just hate it.
On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee is having a hearing on clean coal technology. Remember that US coal reserves exceed in BTU’s the world’s oil reserves. Whatever will bring down the cost of energy to manufacturers and all consumers, let’s get on with it.
Also this week, more first Quarter earnings reports are due out, from Apple, Boeing, ConocoPhilips, General Dynamics, Microsoft and Ford, among others.
On the political front, you may have seen that Barack Obama rolled out his energy plan on Friday of last week. Not to be outdone, John McCain will unveil his energy plan at noon today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in DC.
Over in the White House today, President Bush holds a 10:15 am ET Oval Office meeting the Peruvian President Alan Garcia, then participates in a 1:25 pm meeting on Medicare. He meets with the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts at 3:15.
Last but certainly not least, the World Health Care Congress convenes in Washington this week. The “Who’s Who” of the health care world will be there. We are proud to say that NAM President John Engler will be part of the kickoff, speaking and chairing a panel this morning.
Finally, keep the good folks down at Virginia Tech in your prayers this week as they start back to class and try to regain some sense of normalcy in a context that defies it. Their ability to pull together has been really inspirational. It’s amazing to read the stories of those who went home after the tragedy who are eager to return to be part of the close-knit community that is Virginia Tech. They will be there for one another, a shining example of the triumph of the human spirit over unimaginable horror. They look like mere students, but these kids are very, very brave. Like we said, keep ’em in your prayers.