Dispatch from the Front: The Week of February 22

Congress returns from recess with a heavy week of hearings, the Senate turns to a “jobs bill,” and the White House today reveals its latest health care proposal in anticipation of the Blair House media event on Thursday.

Exciting developments at the National Association of Manufacturers, where we today unveil our new logo, website and branding, reflecting the modern face of manufacturing. Please visit www.nam.org.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today with the traditional reading of Washington’s Farewell Address, followed by debate on H.R.2847, the Jobs for Main Street Act. A cloture vote is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. For developments during the week, check the Senate Democrats’ calendar.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. today. Following the usual slumgullion of suspensions, the major items on the floor this week are: H.R. 2314, Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, aka the Akaka Act; the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, to eliminate the anti-trust exemption for health insurers; and H.R. 2701, the Intelligence Authorization Act. For more, see the Weekly Leader.

The President’s latest health care framework of principles of conceptual reforms will be posted at the White House website, www.whitehouse.gov, at 10 a.m. Media this morning are playing up his proposal to further regulate insurance companies. The Blair House meeting Thursday is sure to achieve consensus, comity, or at least cameras.

Senate Hearings: The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday holds a hearing, “Trade and Tax Issues Relating to Small Business Job Creation.” Judiciary on Tuesday reviews libel tourism. A Commerce subcommittee, “Improving Energy Efficiency Through Technology and Communications Innovation.” Senate EPW reviews the EPA budget on Tuesday, with Administrator Jackson testifying. The full Commerce Committee holds a hearing on cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. (Details.) The Budget Comittee digs into the DOT’s budget, with Secretary LaHood speaking. The HELP Committee holds a hearing Wednesday, “A Stronger Workforce Investment System for a Stronger Economy.” A Commerce subcommittee Wednesday, NASA’s budget. Senate Banking on Thursday hears Fed Chairman Bernanke give the semiannual monetary report, i.e., his Humphrey-Hawkins testimony. An Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee Thursday ponders the Asian carp’s threat to the Great Lakes.

House Hearings: House Ed & Labor on Tuesday, a hearing, “Reducing the Growing Backlog of Contested Mine Safety Cases.” The Ed & Labor Committee last week announced a bipartisan push for federal education reform; the first committee hearing on the effort is Wednesday, examing charter schools. A year after the stimulus bill, the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday wonders whether we did right by infrastructure. EPA Administrator Jackson testifies, along with Corps of Engineers, Amtrak and Coast Guard execs. The first high-profile hearing into Toyota’s recalls is the Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee inquiry Tuesday, also looking into NHTSA’s response.  A Science subcommittee on Tuesday, “The State of Research Infrastructure at U.S. Universities.” House Financial Services on Tuesday asks whether the federal government should undertake “additional stimulus” to encourage employment growth. An Appropriations Committee reviews NIST’s budget, with Director Gallagher testifying.

On Wednesday, the full Science and Technology Committee looks at the Administration’s R&D budget proposals. House Oversight holds its own Toyota hearing Wednesday, “Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public At Risk?” The House Budget Committee on Wednesday hears from Secretary Geithner on Treasury’s budget. Financial Services gets its semiannual economic review from Bernanke on Wednesday. The House Appropriation’s ag subcommittee hears from Ag Secretary Vilsack on the USDA’s budget Wednesday. Two Energy and Commerce subcommittees on Wednesday hold a joint hearing, “The Collection and Use of Location Information for Commercial Purpose.” A Science and Technology subcommittee hearing Wednesday, “Advanced Computing for Energy Applications“; another subcommittee considers NIST’s support of biomedical research. A House Natural Resources subcommittee holds a hearing on H.R. 3709, the Geothermal Production Expansion Act. The appropriate appropriations subcommittee considers EPA’s budget, with Administrator Lisa Jackson on location. House Armed Services’ Defense Acquisition Committee on Thursday hears from experts on defense acquistion, including Norm Augustine. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday, a hearing, “Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Drinking Water: Risks to Human Health and the Environment,” with attacks predicted against BPA. NASA’s budget is considered by the full Science Committee on Thursday.  A House Transportation subcommittee reviews the Economic Development Administration on Thursday, with a tie to the stimulus bill.

Judicial Branch: The U.S. Supreme Court begins two weeks of oral arguments this morning, previewed by The Washington Post here. The Post’s Robert Barnes also reports that today’s hearing on Lewis v. City of Chicago reprises some of the statute of limitations issues raised in the Lilly Ledbetter case.

Executive Branch: President Obama today meets with governors; the National Governors Association’s winter meeting concludes Tuesday. On Wednesday, he addresses the Business Roundtable at the St. Regis here in D.C. Energy Secretary Chu is traveling to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar this week; Reuters reports, “Saudi Arabia hosts U.S. energy czar Chu but woos China.” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is in Las Vegas today, talking census and attending the annual Reservation Economic Summit.

Economic Reports: The Schiller/Case Index report on home prices comes out Tuesday; Wednesday Commerce releases new home sales; durable goods are reported Thursday; and Friday we get the revised fourth quarter GDP figures. See Neil Irwin, Washington Post, and Bloomberg for more.


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