Dispatch from the Front: The Week of November 16

By November 16, 2009General

The Senate debates health care legislation, probably perhaps procedurally, the House considers a big-ticket repackaging of Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, and the President remains peripatetic in Asia.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. and moves to H.R.3082, the Military Construction and VA appropriations bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated plans to start debate on the bill to expand government control over the U.S. health care system (and raise taxes), but the timing and actual measure brought to floor remain uncertain.  For more on the week, see the Senate Calendar.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. and deals with suspensions. The major debate of the week is over H.R. 3961, Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act, also known as the $210 billion “Doctor Fix.” The House may also consider the conference report on H.R. 2847, the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations. For the full schedule, see the House Majority Leader’s report.

President Obama is in Beijing where he meets with President Hu Jintao and visits the Great Wall. On the agenda are trade, currency and global government controls over carbon dioxide. (Although China’s Foreign Ministry seemed mostly concerned about the Dalai Lama.) The final leg of the President’s Asian journey take him to Seoul to meet with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and deliver a speech to U.S. troops at Osan Air Base. The White House is blogging the trip.

The Environmental Protection Agency holds two daylong public hearings on its policymaking “tailoring rule” to regulate carbon dioxide from industrial emitters. On Wednesday, it’s Crystal City, VA., and on Thursday, it’s Rosemont, Ill. The NAM has a website devoted to the jobs-killing proposal, www.nam.org/epa.

House Hearings: A House Transportation subcommittee meets in Baltimore today for a hearing on DOT’s Hazardous Materials Safety Program. House Financial Services this week marks up a flock of financial regulatory bills starting Tuesday (HR. 2609, H.R. 3996, H.R. 3904). House Ed&Labor on Tuesday holds a hearing on H1N1 and sick leave policies, including Chairman George Miller’s bill, a stalking horse for more expansive paid leave mandates like the Healthy Families Act. Ways & Means, the trade subcommittee, on Tuesday holds a hearing on U.S. preference programs. House Agriculture on Tuesday reviews the Financial Stability Improvement Act discussion draft. A Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday, “Too Big to Fail – The Role for Bankruptcy and Antitrust Law in Financial Regulation Reform, Part II.” Two Energy and Commerce subcommittees hold a joint hearing Wednesday, “H1N1 Preparedness: An Overview of Vaccine Production and Distribution.” The Transportation and Infrastructure’s water subcommittee on Wednesday considers proposals for a new Water Resources Development Act. A Science and Technology subcommittee on Thursday looks at DOT R&D. Also Thursday, an Ag subcommittee looks at rural broadband programs funded by the stimulus.

Senate Hearings: Senate Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday holds a hearing on the international aspects of global climate change.  A Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday considers cyberterrorism and privacy. Treasury Secretary Geithner testifies Tuesday at a Foreign Relations hearing, “The U.S. and the G-20: Remaking the International Economic Architecture.” Into Bauhaus or Brutalism? Senate Homeland Security on Tuesday, “H1N1 Flu: Getting the Vaccine to Where It Is Most Needed.” Senate Agriculture holds a hearing Wednesday on reforming financial market regulation. The HELP Committee on Wednesday marks up S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and the nomination of David Michaels to head OSHA. No hearing on Michaels, just a vote. An Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on Wednesday discusses forest management in response to climate change. Homeland Security on Wednesday holds a hearing on S. 526, on the jurisdiction for civil lawsuits against military contractors overseas. Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday reviews environmental stewardship related to offshore energy production. The HELP Committee holds a hearing Thursday on the nomination of Georgetown Law prof Chai Feldblum to be EEOC commissioner.

Economic Reports: Commerce today reports October retail sales, while Fed Chairman Bernanke speaks at the Economic Club of New York this noon. On Tuesday, the Fed releases industrial production figures for October and the producer price index comes out. On Wednesday, it’s new housing starts. The Washington Post has the week’s schedule of economic news, as does CNNMoney.com.

Leave a Reply