Dispatch from the Front: The Week of September 7

By September 7, 2009General

Congress finally escapes contentious town hall meetings by returning to the sweetness and light of Washington, President Obama makes his case for manufacturing, education and health care as good things, and today is Labor Day.

President Obama travels to Cincinnati today to participate in an AFL-CIO picnic/rally and talk about health care. At the Coney Island picnic, he will introduce Ron Bloom as his senior counselor for manufacturing (AP story). At Treasury, Bloom has been head of the Administration’ automotive planning and financial aid programs; he previously was a senior executive for the United Steel Workers and an investment banker. Question: Why are all these Administration posts described as czars? Answer: Shorter headlines. (Here’s a quick WSJ profile.)

The President’s big event of the week is his speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday on health care, but first, on Tuesday, he exhorts students in a speech from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday and moves to debate on S. 1023, the Travel Promotion Act, to create a government-sponsored enterprise to tax foreign visitors to promote tourism. This week should also see a vote on cloture  and confirmation of Cass Sunstein to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday, and the week’s floor schedule features 26 bills on suspension. Included in the list are H.R. 3165, Wind Energy Research and Development Act, and H.R. 445, Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act.

NAM President John Engler speaks Wednesday in Detroit at a Commerce Department event, Trade North America. Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute, participates in a Rockwell Automation briefing on manufacturing policy Wednesday at the National Press Club.

House Hearings: A House Natural Resource Committee subcommittee on Wednesday considers H.R. 2227, The American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act, a bipartisan, broad pro-energy bill. (Hearing details.) A Financial Services subcommittee, also Wednesday, on affordable home programs. The Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee on Thursday plots the “Roadmap to Copenhagen – Driving towards Success,” on UN climate negotiations. (This roadmap? Or this?) A House Science and Technology subcommittee on Thursday eyes “The Risk of Financial Modeling: VaR (value-at-risk) and the Economic Meltdown.” The full House Transportation Committee on Thursday reviews hazardous materials safety and the PHMSA. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday conducts oversight of broadband in the stimulus bill. And the full Committee on Friday holds a hearing on H.R.3258, the Drinking Water System Security Act, and H.R.2868, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act.

Notably, belatedly, there’s a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act more than a year after the CPSIA’s enactment. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum is the sole witness at Thursday’s hearing.

Senate Hearings: Senate Agriculture on Wednesday holds a hearing, “Global Warming Legislation:  Carbon Markets and Producer Groups.” The defense subcommittee of Senate Appropriations marks up the DOD spending bill on Wednesday. On Thursday, Homeland Security and Government Affairs gets an “Update on Stimulus Spending, Transparency, and Fraud Prevention.” And now that Justice Sotomayor has been confirmed, Senate Judiciary on Thursday may finally get to its much-delayed markup of S.448 and H.R. 985, the Free Flow of Information Act, i.e., federal media shield; and S.369, the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics, among other bills.

Executive Branch: Ag Secretary Vilsack and FDA Commissioner Hamburg speak Tuesday at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington; HHS Secretary Sibelius speaks Wednesday.

Economic Reports: A light week. The Fed’s Beige Book comes out on Wednesday. Commerce releases July trade figures on Thursday. On Friday, Treasury releases the federal budget for August. More from The Washington Post, which describes the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, released Wednesday.

Amid all these political developments, let us not forget culture: On Wednesday, the world welcomes the release of the Beatles’ remastered Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the most overproduced record in the history of rock. Enjoy!

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