Dispatch from the Front: The Week of March 9

By March 9, 2009General

The recession, economy, President’s budget and omnibus SPENDING bill dominate the Congressional debate this week, while a Senate committee considers the (disastrous) economic impact of the Employee Free Choice Act.

President Obama today signs an order allowing federal funding for experimentation on stem cells derived from fetuses. On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with President Obama at the White House. Also Tuesday, the White House announces its plan to expand high-speed Internet.

Key hearing to watch is the Senate HELP session Tuesday, “Rebuilding Economic Security: Empowering Workers to Restore the Middle Class.” Organized labor uses the “restoring the middle class” rhetoric to promote the Employee Free Choice Act, and we expect the anti-jobs bill to be a major focus of discussion.

The Senate convenes today at 2 p.m. and moves into consideration of H.R. 1105, the FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Votes on amendments are to start at 5:30 p.m. For the full list of Senate hearings, go here.

The House convenes at 12:30 p.m. and for business at 2 p.m. today. Big action for the week will be consideration of the omnibus appropriations bill if the Senate passes it with amendments. Other major floor action planned is H.R. 1262, Water Quality Investment Act, and possibly, H.R. 157, District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act, if supporters can unarm opponents. For the week’s floor agenda, see the Majority Leader’s report.

For a full list of hearings, see the Daily Digest.

Senate Hearings: Senate HELP Committee on Monday, “Preventing Worker Exploitation: Protecting Individuals With Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations.” Senate Banking on Tuesday, a hearing on investor protections and securities regulation. Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday, a hearing on the impact of energy development and production on the nation’s water resources. (Details.) Senate Finance on Tuesday, “President’s FY2010 Health Care Proposals”; on Thursday the committee considers, “Workforce Issues in Health Care Reform.” Senate Judiciary on Tuesday, “Patent Reform in the 111th Congress: Legislation and Recent Court Decisions.” A Senate Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday holds a hearing on aviation operations, the FAA and the NextGen modernization. And a busy week for the Senate Budget Committee reviewing the President’s budget: OMB Director Orzag testifies Tuesday; Energy Secretary Chu on Wednesday; and Treasury Secretary Geithner on Thursday, focusing on revenues. Senate Commerce on Thursday, on climate science, “empowering our response to climate change.” Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday will consider legislation about the siting of transmission lines.

House Hearings: Treasury Secretary Geithner testifies Tuesday at an Appropriations subcommittee explaining the department’s actions relating to the financial crisis. House Ed & Labor on Tuesday, “Strengthening Employer-Based Health Care.” An Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Tuesday, “The Future of Coal under Climate Legislation.” A separate subcommittee holds a hearing, “Making Healthcare Work for American Families: Designing a High Performing Healthcare System.” Back on coal, the Science and Technology Committee subcommittee hearing Wednesday, “FutureGen and the Department of Energy’s Advanced Coal Programs.” A full Ways & Means committee hearing Wednesday, “Health Reform in the 21st Century: Expanding Coverage, Improving Quality and Controlling Costs.” AWays & Means subcommittee hearing Thursday, “Protecting Lower-Income Families While Fighting Global Warming.” A suggestion: Don’t raise the cost of energy. And a House Small Business subcommittee hearing, “Ensuring Stimulus Contracts for Small and Veteran-owned Businesses.”

Executive Branch: Secretary of Transportation LaHood speaks to the American Public Transportation Association’s 2009 Legislative Conference today. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack addresses the National Farmers Union this morning and Speaker Pelosi speaks this afternoon; NFU will elect a new president this week.

Economic Reports:

  • Tuesday: January wholesale trade
  • Wednesday: February Treasury budget levels
  • Thursday: January business inventories; February retail sales
  • Friday: January international trade; February import prices

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