Congress is back in session, ready for a stimulating couple of weeks of legislating (or not) and politicking and politicking before going back out on the campaign trail.
Energy issues will predominate, but also high on the month’s agenda is a Democratic-supported second stimulus bill to counter economic downslows (Washington Post story) and loan programs for the auto manufacturers (AP story). Expect congressional reaction to the fallshort in the Highway Trust Fund, and the federal conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie.
On Wednesday, numerous activities on the hill mark “Trade Day,” encouraging passage of the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
This afternoon, House Republicans hold a “major news conference” on the Capitol steps to promote energy development. A bipartisan group of Senators sponsors an “energy summit” on Friday; the Detroit Free Press reports that GM Chairman Rick Wagoner will promote the auto company financial aid then.
This week also marks the seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks that murdered nearly 3,000 Americans for being Americans. President Bush will participate in the dedication of the Pentagon 9/11 memorial. The presidential candidates will appear together at Ground Zero in NYC.
The Senate convenes today at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of a motion to proceed to S. 3001, the defense authorization bill, with a cloture vote this evening.
The House convenes at 2 p.m. today, with five bills on the suspension calendar, including S. 2450, amending federal rules of evidence regarding inadvertent disclosures. Expect action this week on H.R. 3036, the No Child Left Inside Act, expanding federal involvement in environmental education. The Majority Leader’s schedule for the week is here.
Senate hearings: Senate Finance on Tuesday holds a hearing, “Improving Health Care Quality: An Integral Step Toward Health Reform.” Also Tuesday, a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee dives into a hearing, “Quality and Environmental Impacts of Bottled Water.” The full EPW also considers “Improving the Federal Bridge Program: Including an Assessment of S. 3338 and H.R. 3999.”
House hearings: The House Budget Committee holds a hearing Tuesday, “A Weakened Economy: How to Respond.” House Judiciary meets on “Competition in the Package Delivery Industry” On Thursday, Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property is scheduled to consider the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” (details, Library Journal article.) On Wednesday, a House Science and Technology subcommittee reviews basic energy research in the DOE Office of Science. Also Wednesday, the House Energy Independence/Global Warming Committee holds a hearing, “Investing in the Future: R&D needs to meet America’s Energy and Climate Challenges.”
Executive Branch: Commerce Secretary Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Rep Schwab participate in a Capitol Hill rally Wednesday on Trade Day, advocating passage of the pending FTAs. That evening both are at the National Foreign Trade Council’s Annual World Trade Dinner and Award Ceremony.
Judicial Branch: Oral arguments are scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Friday, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in NAM v. Taylor, the NAM’s challenge to the “affiliated organizations” provision of Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, i.e., the suit against the free-speech chilling lobbying disclosure act. For a full history of the litigation and the supporting documents, please go to the NAM’s Legal Beagle search engine entries.
And in Wilmington, N.C., the first test switchover to digital TV launches today.
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