Dispatch from the Front: The Week of November 30

By November 30, 2009General

Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess to act on health care and the death tax, and the economy dominates the week with concern about jobs, jobs and jobs. And Dubai debt. And jobs. And Afghanistan. And jobs.

President Obama meets with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today, with troop commitments in Afghanistan on the agenda. The war is the topic of the President’s primetime speech at West Point Tuesday evening. On Thursday, the President holds a White House forum to talk about jobs, and then he heads to Allentown and Lehigh Carbon Community College for the first stop of a “listening tour.” Did someone say carbon? The week also sees the President and Cabinet secretaries prepare to fly to Copenhagen for climate-and-economy-control talks next week.

The Seventh Session of the WTO Ministerial get under way in Geneva today. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk’s statement.

The U.S. Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today and at 3 p.m. turns to the health care bill, H.R. 3590, starting with amendments. For Senate hearings, go here.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Among the 17 bills on suspension are two with R&D implications: H.R. 3029, establishing a demonstration program for gas turbines in combined cycle power generation, and H.R. 3598, the Energy and Water Research Integration Act. The major bill of the week is H.R. 4154, the Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Businesses Act — establishing a 45 percent rate with a $3.5 million exemption.

House Hearings: House Financial Services on Wednesday marks up H.R.2609, the Federal Insurance Office Act, and H.R. 3996, the Financial Stability Improvement Act. (Details.) House Transportation’s aviation subcommittee holds a hearing Wednesday on commercial space transportation. A House Science subcommittee separately considers the safety of human space flight. A House Agriculture subcommittee eyes the potential economic impacts of climate change on the farm sector. The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming holds a hearing, “The State of Climate Science.” Financial Services on Wednesday considers the FHA’s 2009 actual report. A House Ed & Labor subcommittee, a hearing, Examining the Delphi Bankruptcy’s Impact on Workers and Retirees.” An Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday considers the impact of H.R.3795, the Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets Act, on energy markets. (Details.)

Senate Hearings: Senate Agriculture holds a hearing on OTC derivatives on Wednesday, with Treasury Secretary Geithner testifying. Also Wednesday, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reviews policy options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Details.) The committee on Thursday considers H.R. 3276, the American Medical Isotopes Production Act. The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday holds a hearing, “Has the Supreme Court Limited Americans’ Access to Courts?” Those who answer yes want to ease pleadings standards in federal civil litigation, that is, to allow the filing of civil suits by just making a claim, reversing Supreme Court rulings in Iqbal and Twombly. On Thursday, Judiciary holds a business meeting on S. 448, the federal media shield, and the nomination of the controversial, liability-expanding Louis Butler to be a U.S. District Court judge in Wisconsin. Senate Environment and Public Works on Wednesday holds an oversight hearing on the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act, expected to be a big issue in 2010. Senate Banking on Thursday holds a confirmation interrogation of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Executive Branch: Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks this evening in D.C. at the opening of “The Innovation Economy Conference” sponsored by Intel and the Aspen Institute. Last week Duncan outlined the Obama Administration’s program for improving science and math education.

Economic Reports: The world watches Wall Street this week, rooting against the sentiment, “Dubai? Do sell!” AFP further reports: “Investors will have a full economic calendar to digest, including the ISM manufacturing index and construction spending on Tuesday, and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book on the economic outlook on Wednesday. The key monthly unemployment rate and payrolls data caps the week Friday.” See also Washington Post’s week ahead.

And! CNBC at 8 p.m. Wednesday broadcasts an hour-long special from Pittsburgh about the manufacturing economy, “Meeting of the Minds: Rebuilding America.” Panelists are: Bill Ford of Ford, Dan DiMicco of Nucor, Leo Gerard of United Steelworkers; Jeff Immelt of General Electric; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and the NAM’s John Engler. More from CNBC.

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