Dispatch from the Front: The Week of February 8

By February 8, 2010General

Federal offices in the Washington, D.C., area are closed today because of the snow and iced-in streets. In keeping with National Association of Manufacturers policy, the NAM is also closed. Another storm is supposed to hit Tuesday afternoon so consider the times below subject to change.

The Senate will convene briefly today in a pro snowa session to juggle schedules, as leadership has postponed major legislative action 24 hours. That means a Tuesday debate on the nominations of Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr. to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Third Circuit, and Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, with cloture votes set for 5 p.m. (Washington Post coverage.) The NAM and hundreds of manufacturers are urging a no vote on Becker’s nomination. Senate Democrats may also try to move a “jobs bill” this week, The New York Times indicates.

The House convenes at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, with votes delayed until 6:30 p.m. Major legislation of the week is H.R. 2701, the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, and the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, to eliminate the federal anti-trust exemption for health insurers.

For the full list of committee hearings for the week, see Congressional Record page D95.

Senate Hearings: Senate Committee on Armed Services examines President’s FY11 U.S. Air Force budget. A Banking subcommittee on Wednesday, a hearing on monitoring systemic risk. The Budget Committee on Tuesday reviews the economic outlook and on Wednesday postulates “fiscal sustainability.” If neologisms are the goal, how about “fiscal smart growth?” The Commerce Committee Tuesday examines the DOT budget proposal. Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday scrutinizes financial transmission rights and electricity market mechanism, with FERC Chairman Wellinghoff and CFTC Chairman Gensler testifying. On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Salazar testifies on the agency budget;  on Thursday, it’s the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program. EPW on Tuesday holds a confirmation hearing on NRC nominees. On Thursday, EPW’s topic is global warming impacts, including U.S. public health. Senate HELP Committee on Thursday, a hearing, “A Stronger Workforce Investment System for a Stronger Economy.” Strong. Senate Judiciary on Wednesday holds a hearing on cybercrime and identity theft.

House Hearings: It’s a busy week for House Appropriations (schedule). The relevant subcommittee considers FDA’s budget request on Wednesday. The Subcommittee on Interior and Environment reviews its bailiwick’s budgets Thursday, with Interior Secretary Salazar testifying. An Armed Services subcommittee Wednesday gets private sector perspectives on DOD information technology and cyber-security activities. The Budget Committee on Wednesday reviews Treasury’s budget request, with Secretary Geithner testifying; on Thursday, it’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on his budget. On Wednesday, Secretary Duncan testifies before House Ed & Labor on education issues, including ESEA reauthorization.  An Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday holds an oversight hearing on FERC. On Thursday, the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection holds a hearing, “Domestic and International Actions on Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals.” Financial Services on Wednesday considers the unwinding of emergency federal liquidity programs. Foreign Affairs on Wednesday reviews the “Google predicament,” China, cyber-policy and trade. Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, a hearing, “Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public at Risk?” Secretary LaHood testifies. Science and Technology on Wednesday reviews the Administration’s R&D budget proposals. Also Wednesday, the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee holds a hearing on Rare Earth Minerals and 21st Century Industry. We can only hope Bolivian lithium is on the agenda. On Thursday, the full committee holds a hearing on Energy’s R&D budget proposal. Small Business, Wednesday, reviews SBA’s budget request. A Transportation subcommittee on Tuesday ponders the electrifying issue of Asian Carp and the Great Lakes. The full committee on Wednesday hears a one-year progress report on transportation and infrastructure investments. Thursday, a subcommittee hearing on the Surface Transportation Board. Ways & Means on Thursday, a hearing on HHS’s FY11 budget proposal, with Secretary Sebelius testifying. The Global Warming Committee on Thursday peers at black carbon pollution.

Executive Branch: President Obama hosts Congressional leadership on Tuesday to discuss health care, jobs legislation, and how everyone handled the snow. From RealClearPolitics: “Also on tap this week: the president hosts another White House concert, this one in honor of Black History Month. Also on Wednesday, Vice President Biden will give a broad speech on nuclear threats facing the nation.”

Economic Reports: On Thursday, we get a read on January retail sales. Neil Irwin at The Washington Post also directs our attention to a new index being released Wednesday, the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index: “Ceridian has partnered with UCLA’s Anderson School of Management to use data from that business to create an index of how much fuel consumption is occurring at the truck stops of America. It is, effectively, a near real-time measure of how many trucks are on the road and how far they’re driving. Trucks account for so much of U.S. commerce that the index correlates closely with overall industrial production.” For more, see Daniel Fisher at Forbes.com, “The Fed Should Have Listened To The Truckers.”

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