Dispatch from the Front: The Week of March 8

The President wants a health care bill before Congress breaks for the Easter Recess starting March 29, so this week the White House and Congressional leaders will reconnoiter for reconciliation. Recon for recon, so to speak.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today and continues debate on H.R. 4213, the tax extenders bill, with votes beginning on Tuesday. (See Senate program.) The Senate will also try to finish up a “jobs bill” that passed the House with changes last week.

The House convenes at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. The week’s floor schedule includes votes on H.Con.Res. 248, the Afghanistan War Powers Resolution, and a resolution of impeachment against U.S. District Judge Porteous of Louisiana. Jobs bill discussions are also listed.

President Obama campaigns for his health care legislation today in the Philadelphia area (Arcadia University), then returns to the White House to meet with the Alabama Crimson Tide football team and El Salvador President Fune. Those are separate meetings.  On Tuesday, the President meets with the prime minister of Greece, Papandreou. On Wednesday, he meets with President Preval of Haiti and then travels to St. Louis to campaign for health care legislation. The President on Thursday addresses the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference, an always-good event featuring many manufacturers. On Friday, the President meets with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The Daily Digest has the week’s full schedule of hearings.

Senate Hearings: The relevant Senate Appropriation subcommittee holds a hearing on the Department of Interior’s budget on Tuesday, with Secretary Salazar testifying. See Appropriations’ list for the week, which also cites a Tuesday  subcommittee review of the FDA budget, with Commissioner Hamburg on hand. Energy and Natural Resources examines financial transmission rights and electricity marketing, with the chairmen of FERC and CFTC testifying. A Senate EPW subcommittee holds another TSCA-related hearing for business perspectives on U.S. chemical safety laws; witnesses come from refiners, chemical manufacturers, Dow and DuPont. Senate Finance considers U.S. preference programs. Senate HELP on Tuesday looks at the Elementary and Secondary Act, focusing on “K-12 education for economic success.” On Wednesday, it’s Energy and Natural Resources considering S. 1696, requiring a study of video game console energy efficiency, and S. 2908 on covered water heaters. Senate Judiciary on Wednesday bemoans corporate campaign spending in the wake of Citizens United v. FEC. Senate Commerce on Wednesday holds a hearing on American innovation and competitiveness. On Thursday, an Appropriations subcommittee considers the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation budgets. Armed Services Committee holds hearings on the DOD authorization and Joint Strike Fighter.  Energy and Natural Resources on Wednesday examines legislation on energy efficiency jobs and building retrofits. Senate EPW looks at government partnerships to “accelerate transportation benefits.” Vroom! The HELP Committee on Thursday ponders additional federal regulation of employers to, a hearing called, “A Fair Share for All: Pay Equity in the New American Workplace.”

House Hearings: The myriad subcommittees of House Appropriations have a full week of hearings on agency budgets: On Wednesday, Secretary Solis testifies on the Department of Labor and Secretary Geithner on Treasury; on Thursday, Secretary Chu testifies on energy. House Armed Services, the Defense Acquisition Reform Panel, on Thursday holds a hearing on the Administration’s views on managing DOD acquisitions and the workforce. A subcommittee of House Committee on Education and Labor on Wednesday holds a hearing on H.R. 413, collective bargaining for state public safety employers. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday, a hearing, “Drug Safety: An Update from the FDA.” A separate subcommittee considers “NHTSA Oversight: The Road Ahead.” On Friday, another subcommittee, “HomeStar: Job Creation through Home Energy Retrofits.” A Financial Services subcommittee on Thursday, “Corporate Governance after Citizens United.” A Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing Thursday, “State Taxation: The Role of Congress in Developing Apportionment Standards.” Science and Technology on Wednesday, a hearing on EPA and NOAA’s budgets. A Ways & Means subcommittee on Thursday, a hearing on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee on Wednesday, “The Clean Energy Recovery: Creating Jobs, Building New Industries and Saving Money.”

Executive Branch: Vice President Biden is in Israel and the Palestinian Territories through Wednesday. EPA Administrator Jackson speaks at the National Press Club today, and U.S. Trade Representative Kirk speaks there on Tuesday about the President’s trade agenda. On Thursday, Kirk and Commerce Secretary Locke participate in a panel discussion at the Eximbank’s annual conference. On Friday in Ankeny, Iowa: “The first joint workshops on agriculture by regulators at the U.S. Justice and Agriculture Departments is expected to give farmers, lobbyists, executives and academics a strong indication of where the Obama administration stands on consolidation in agriculture.” More details on the workshops here.

Economic reports: On Wednesday, Commerce Department releases wholesale trade inventories for January, and Treasury releases the federal budget for February. On Thursday, Commerce announces January trade figures. On Friday, it’s retail sales for February and business inventories for January. CNBC has more details.

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