Dispatch from the Front: The Week of June 20

By July 20, 2009General

Health care and the economy should dominate the news this week, again, with the President and Congressional leadership demanding swift action, again. On Wednesday, President Obama speaks at a prime time news conference to promote some legislation, any legislation, and on Thursday he travels to Cleveland. Fed Chairman Bernanke presents his semi-annual monetary report on Capitol Hill on Tuesday (House Financial Services) and Wednesday (Senate Banking).

The Manufacturing Council holds an introductory meeting with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke starting at 10:30 a.m. today to discuss the U.S. manufacturing sector.

The Senate convenes at 1 p.m. today and considers S. 1390, the defense authorization bill, with some hate crime and concealed-carry amendments thrown in. Senate Judiciary votes on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The House convenes at 12:30 p.m. today and after sundry suspensions says “stop me before I spend again!” and then spends again, with the floor schedule featuring H.R. 2920, Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act; the DOT and HUD appropriations; and the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations. For more, see the Majority Leader’s weekly report.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks Saturday at the opening plenary of the summer convention of the American Association for Justice (i.e., the trial lawyers) in San Francisco. We look forward to the extensive news coverage of her speech, especially the health-care angle.

Senate Hearings: The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday marks up a highway bill extension, and S. 1451, the Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. (Details.) EPW on Tuesday, a hearing on state and local views of “clean-energy jobs,” with Govs. Ritter, Gregoire, Hoeven and Corzine testifying. Foreign Relations on Tuesday, “Climate Change and Global Security.” Homeland Security and Governmental Affair, an update on stimulus spending. The Investigations subcommittee holds a hearing on “excessive speculation in the wheat market.” The Senate Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee on Tuesday reviews the employment verification system. On Wednesday, Senate Agriculture holds a hearing on agriculture and forestry’s role in global warming legislation; USDA Secretary Vilsack and EPA Administrator Jackson testify along with heads of farm groups. A Commerce subcommittee considers advertising trends and consumer protection. Senate Judiciary on Wednesday, “Promoting Job Creation and Foreign Investment in the United States: An Assessment of the EB-5 Regional Center Program.” Judiciary subcommittee on crime and drugs, hearing on Wednesday, “Metal Theft: Public Hazard, Law Enforcement Challenge.” Representatives of the Scrap Recycling Institute and Edison Electric Institute testify. Senate Banking on Thursday, a hearing on systemic risk regulation.

House Hearings: House Energy and Commerce spends the week marking up H.R. 3200, the health care bill, starting today. A subcommittee also finds time to hold a hearing Thursday on H.R.2868, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act, and the Drinking Water System Security Act. A Homeland Security subcommittee examines the security of the electrical grid, including the threat of an EMP attack. A House Judiciary subcommittee continues to review the auto industry bankruptcies on Tuesday and Wednesday. A Natural Resources subcommittee considers H.R. 644, putting one million acres near the Grand Canyon off limits to uranium mining. A House Science subcommittee Tuesday encourages female students in STEM fields. Also Tuesday, a Science subcommittee marks up H.R.3246, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act; H.R.3165, promoting wind R&D; H.R.3029, R&D for gas turbines; and H.R. 3247, to establish a social and behavioral sciences research program at the Department of Energy. (The DOE Department of Sociology?) Ways and Means’ trade subcommittee holds a hearing Tuesday on trade advisory committees. On Wednesday and Friday, Financial Services considers the Administration’s financial regulatory proposals. A House Oversight subcommittee eschews balance on Wednesday with, “Arbitration or ‘Arbitrary’: The Misuse of Arbitration to Collect Consumer Debts.” An Energy and Commerce subcommittee commits oversight of the FCC on Thursday. A House Science subcommittee on Thursday talks about the Smart Grid. (Must have studied at DOE’s Department of Sociology.) House Ways & Means, the revenue subcommittee, examines legislation for long-term financing of the Highway Trust Fund. Friday, the House Budget Committee holds a hearing, “The Recovery Act: Strengthening Our Economy” with Secretaries LaHood and Vilsack testifying.

Executive Branch: Today in St. John Parish, La., the Administration’s rural tour brings VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, AG Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Solis, and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to town for an event on rural health. President Obama meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki at the White House on Wednesday. Vice President Biden travels to Ukraine and Georgia. Secretary of State Clinton is in India to talk about climate change, nuclear weapons, etc.

Economic Reports: The home-price index is released Wednesday and the National Association of Realtors figures on existing-home sales come out Thursday. More from Seattle Times.

Finally, here is NASA’s website, including scores features marking the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong stepping upon the moon.

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