Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 11

By May 11, 2009General

No overwhelming theme to the week politically or in Congress that we spot, other than the distribution of “We survived the pandemic” T-shirts. As the saying goes, when pigs had wings, swine flew.

A White House event on health care coincides with an announcement from health care industry leaders expected to announce plans to cut costs in the process of reform, expanding insurance coverage as well. Also expect an Administration announcement on new anti-trust rules.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. today pro formally, returns at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Beyond suspensions, there’s H.R. 2187, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act. And the major business of the week is the supplemental appropriations bill related to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and pandemic flu. (More from the Majority Leader.)

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today and on the agenda is H.R. 627, the Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights. (The historical Bill of Rights: Speech, religion, press, assembly, and toll-free phone numbers on each periodic statement of account.)

More on the Congressional week ahead here. For a full list of the committee hearings, see the latest Daily Digest.

The Council on Competitiveness is having a daylong event today in Washington, “Game Changers in the Supply Chain Infrastructure: Are We Ready to Play?” Transportation Secretary LaHood, Commerce Secretary Locke, and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell are among the many speakers. Representatives from Deloitte, Cisco, Caterpillar, Coca Cola and other businesses participate.

Senate Hearings: The Senate Banking Committee, subcommittee on economic policy, will examine manufacturing and the credit crisis at a Wednesday hearing. Also Wednesday, a Commerce subcommittee considers the FAA’s reauthorizaton, hearing from aviation stakeholders. Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday examines S. 967, the  Strategic Petroleum Reserve Modernization Act. On Thursday, the full committee considers S. 1013, the Department of Energy Carbon Capture and Sequestration Program Amendments Act. (Details.) Senate Finance on Tuesday holds a “round-table discussion” on financing health care reform. (That’s what cap and trade is for, right?) On Tuesday, Foreign Relations talks about energy security, in an historical context, i.e., Jimmy Carter will testify. Tony Blair testifies on the Middle East on Thursday. The HELP Committee on Tuesday dives right into a new bill, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. On Thursday, HELP reviews innovative health care delivery models. On Tuesday, it’s the confirmation hearing by the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Cass Sunstein to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. (Details.)

House Hearings: The Committee on Education and Labor holds a hearing Tuesday on America’s Competitiveness through High School Reform. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday holds a hearing on the Consumer Credit Protection Improvement Act and H.R. 2190, Mercury Pollution Reduction Act. The Health subcommittee on Tuesday holds a hearing on H.R. 1346, the Medical Device Safety Act, which will subject FDA-approved medical devices to litigation in state courts; this anti-preemption bill is a top priority for trial lawyers at the American Association for Justice. Another lawsuit-encouraging bill is H.R. 1507, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, subject a House Oversight Committee hearing on Thurday. A Science and Technology Subcommittee on Wednesday marks up the National Climate Service Act, and on Thursday the full committee holds a hearing on the federal R&D budget. The Small Business Committee on Wednesday holds a hearing, “The Role of Small Business Suppliers and Manufacturers in the Domestic Auto Industry.” On Thursday, a long-awaited hearing in the Small Business oversight subcommittee on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  Also Thursday, a Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee reviews the DOT’s Hazardous Materials Safety Program.  Ways & Means subcommittee on trade holds a hearing on U.S. bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements. (Details.)

Executive Branch: President Obama gives a commencement speech on Wednesday at Arizona State Univerity and on Thursday holds a townhall meeting in Albuquerque. The President also gives a commencement speech at Notre Dame on Sunday, an appearance that has drawn much criticism from Catholic groups.

Economic Reports: From Reuters, “Besides Wednesday’s data on April retail sales and March business inventories, other key indicators will be readings on March international trade on Tuesday; weekly jobless claims and the April Producer Price Index on Thursday, followed by Friday’s May consumer sentiment data and April reports on industrial production and the Consumer Price Index.” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks Monday in Georgia on the economy.

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