Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 25

By May 25, 2009General

Today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday to honor those who died in military service to the nation.

Congress is on recess, with the Senate returning at noon Monday, June 1, and the House at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 2. The quiet period encourages speculation about President Obama announcing his empathetic nominee for Supreme Court justice, perhaps as early as Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Reid has scheduled no pro forma sessions, and there’s also speculation that President Obama might make a recess appointment of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. CQ Politics calls her an “embattled nominee” which is the next stage of political trouble after “controversial” and “beleaguered.” If defeated, the term is “embittered.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and other members are in China this week, battling emissions. Several House committees will take up the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation upon Congress’ return, moving speedily, Majority Leader Hoyer says. (More on other CODELS.)

President Obama today participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. He departs on Tuesday for Vegas where he attends a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at Caesar’s Palace. (Bette Midler! Sheryl Crow!) On Wednesday the President holds an economic event in Las Vegas and then travels to Los Angeles for a DNC fundraiser. On Thursday the President returns to Washington and meets with Palestinian President Abbas that afternoon.

Senate Hearings: North Dakota’s two Senators are busy with field hearings but at opposite ends of the state, so it’s OK. Wednesday at the Fargodome, Sen. Byron Dorgan’s Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing on Red River Valley flooding. Governors Pawlenty of Minnesota and Hoeven of North Dakota testify. (Details.) On Thursday, Sen. Kent Conrad holds Budget Committee hearings in Dickinson and Williston on infrastructure’s role in the energy and agriculture economy. And a Commerce subcommittee holds a field hearing on the tourism industry in Duluth on Wednesday.

House Hearings: On Wednesday in Tucson, a House Natural Resources subcommittee holds a hearing on water quality issues and the Lower Colorado River. On Friday in Henderson, Nev., an Ed & Labor subcommittee meets on “New Innovations and Best Practices under the Workforce Investment Act.”

Executive Branch: Energy Secretary Chu is in Rome today for the G8 Energy Ministers confab and then travels to London to the St. James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium on “sustainable leadership.”  (Details.) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is in Delft, Holland (not Fargo?) Thursday to study flood control. On Friday, she participates in an OECD conclave on development and the environment in Paris.

The biggest cabinet event of the week is Tuesday when the Middle Class Task Force palavers at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, “Building a Strong Middle Class through a Green Economy.” Chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, the sharing also features Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, U.S. Trade Rep Ron Kirk, and Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. (Details.)

Economic Reports: The Seattle Times reports two housing reports out Wednesday: “The National Association of Realtors’ April existing home-sales data, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s March and first-quarter home-price index. On Thursday, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, and the Commerce Department reports durable-goods orders for April. And Friday, the Commerce Department releases first-quarter gross domestic product data.”

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