The Week Ahead: The Week of March 3

By March 3, 2008General

A big week for politics with presidential primaries in Rhode Island and Vermont…and Ohio and Texas (caucuses, actually, in the latter). In Congress, sparring over foreign intelligence surveillance continues, while the CPSC debate in the Senate will disedify.

The House meets in pro forma session Monday, names and proclaims stuff on Tuesday, and on Wednesday turns to Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007, i.e., excessively broad mental health parity legislation. (News story.) It appears there may be a vote or votes on surveillance authority, including telecom immunity, as House leadership yields on the politically charged issue. The House floor schedule for the week is here.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. and will debate a motion to proceed to S. 2263, expanding the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s authority — a bill with many well-intended but jobs-killing provisions. Committee hearings for the week, here.

Senate hearings: The Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds an oversight hearing Tuesday, “EIA’s Revised Energy Outlook.” On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee considers “The Administration’s 2008 Trade Agenda,” with U.S. Trade Rep Susan Schwab testifying. (Details.) Also Thursday, the HELP Committee convenes for, “Unemployment in a Volatile Economy: How to Secure Families and Build Opportunity.”

House hearings:The Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services holds two hearings of interest Wednesday, “Expanding Health Care Access” at 10 a.m. and “Health Issues and Opportunities” at 2 p.m. (Details) The Ag subcommittee considers food safety Wednesday, too. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday holds a hearing, “Climate Change and Developing Countries,” with testimony from Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric Power and Jim Slattery of NuCorp Steel. (Details) Also Wednesday, a House Financial Services subcommittee reviews “Foreign Government Investment in the U.S. Economy and Financial Sector,” with focus on sovereign wealth funds. (Details.) A House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee reviews the investment in the pipeline industry at a hearing Wednesday. (Details.)

White House and Executive Branch: Usually we grab a few Presidential schedule items from Friday’s White House press gaggle, but it ended early because of a fire alarm. Today the President posthumously awards Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble the Medal of Honor for heroic actions in the Korean War. Secretary Rice travels to Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Brussels.

Economic reports being released include January factory orders on Wednesday and February’s employment figures on Friday. Fed Chairman Bernanke speaks to bankers in Florida Tuesday morning. (CNBC roundup here.) OPEC meets in Vienna, Austria.

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