Dispatch from the Front: The Week of the Ides of March

The health care debate reaches its history-changing, make-or-break, climatic moment this week in Congress. Or is it next week? Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) unveils his financial regulatory legislation today.

President Obama travels to Strongsville, Ohio, this afternoon to declare that, on health care, the time for talk is over. On Wednesday, he meets with the Taoiseach of Ireland, Brian Cowen, at the White House with various other St. Patrick’s Day goings on. The President now departs on Sunday for Guam, Indonesia and Australia.

The House convenes at 12:30 p.m. today, with the health care debate moving forward when House Budget Committee marks up some kind of reconciliation package at 3 p.m. (Story and legislation.) According to the Majority Leader’s floor schedule, the House considers 24 suspensions and then the House turns to H.R. 1586, the Federal Aviation Administration’s reauthorization, and possibly legislation that purports to be a jobs bill.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m., with debate on the motion to concur in the amendments of the House of Representatives to the amendment of the Senate to the amendment of the House to the amendment of the Senate to H.R.2847, that is, the “jobs bill.” A cloture vote is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Also expected this week is debate on H.R. 1586, the FAA reauthorization.

For the week’s full list of committee hearings, see the Daily Digest starting here.

Senate HearingsWEDNESDAY — The full Senate HELP Committee holds a hearing on the Obama Administration’s priorities in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with Secretary Duncan testifying. (Details.) A Commerce subcommittee considers FTC’s role in protecting consumers who use financial services and products. Senate EPW reviews , “GAO’s Investigation of EPA’s Efforts to Protect Children’s Health.” A Judiciary subcommittee considers bankruptcy reform and its effect on small business jobs. THURSDAY — The full Judiciary Committee committee holds a business meeting on nominations and markups, including S. 148, Discount Pricing Consumer Protection Act, to overturn the Leegin decision. Senate EPW looks at “Mobility and Congestion in Urban and Rural America.” You’re out of luck, suburbia. A Senate Commerce subcommittee assesses commercial space capabilities.

House Hearings: TUESDAY — House Ed&Labor, the Workforce Protections subcommittee, holds a hearing, “Protecting America’s Workers Act: Modernizing OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Penalties.” Modernize must be the new Washington term for “increase.” A House Science subcommittee holds a hearing on broadening participation in STEM education. A separate Science subcommittee ponders rare earth minerals and industry. (Details.) A House Judiciary subcommittee considers federal rulemaking and the regulatory process. Appropriation considers the budget and economic outlook, with Treasury Secretary Geithner testifying. An Appropriations subcommittee, “Strengthening Intermodal Connections & Improving Freight Mobility: An Outside Perspective.” Well that would be “outermodal,” wouldn’t it? WEDNESDAY — An Appropriations subcommittee hears from organized labor on its priorities for K-12 education. The full House Science Committee holds a hearing on the federal government’s role in supporting innovation by U.S. manufacturers; executives from General Motors and Procter & Gamble are among the witnesses. House Transportation and Infrastructure, a subcommittee hearing, “Capacity of Vessels to Meet U.S. Import and Export Requirements.” Transportation’s aviation subcommittee considers FAA oversight of on-demand aircraft operators. The Energy and Water Development appropriations subcommittee considers the Department of Energy’s various department budgets. Another Appropriations subcommittee hearing on intermodal connections and budgets for FHWA, FMCSA, MARAD, and FRA. The full Ed&Labor Committee holds a hearing on the Obama Administration’s views on reauthorizing the Elementary Secondary Act, with Sec. Duncan testifying.  THURSDAY — An Energy and Commerce subcommittee considers HomeStar and job creation through energy retrofits. The defense subcommittee of Appropriations looks at U.S. transportation command, including mobility acquisition. The energy and water development subcommittee considers DOE’s science budgets, including ARPA. Education Secretary Arne Duncan testifies on his department’s budget before an Appropriations subcommittee. FAA Administrator Babbitt and other aviation officials testifying on their budgets before the relevant Appropriations subcommittee. House Energy and Commerce, a subcommittee considers H.R. 4805, formaldehyde standards for composite wood products. An Appropriations subcommittee considers the views of aviation’s stakeholders, including the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Interior Secretary Salazar testifies on his budget before yet another appropriations subcommittee.

Executive Branch: The National League of Cities meets in Washington today and Tuesday, with Cabinet secretaries Chu (Energy), Duncan (Education), LaHood (DOT), Locke (Commerce), Vilsack (USDA), Donovan (HUD) and EPA Administrator Jackson all scheduled.

Economic Reports: Industrial production figures for February are released this morning. On Tuesday, we’ll see U.S. housing starts and building permits for March. The Federal Open Markets Committee’s interest rate announcement is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. ET. On Wednesday, it’s the Producer Price Index; Thursday, it’s the Consumer Price Index, and the Philadelphia Fed reports on manufacturing conditions. The Washington Post’s Neil Irwin has his version of The Week Ahead here.

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