Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 17

The financial regulation debate trudges on in the Senate, the House considers the tax extenders bill, and Congress is awash with five hearings over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. President Felipe Calderon of Mexico trucks into town for a state visit.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today and continues debate on H.R. 3217, the financial regulation bill, with votes starting circa 5:30 p.m. President Calderon speaks to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, with immigration a topic.

The House convenes at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Among the 27 suspensions is the House version of the Patent and Trademark Office Fee Modernization Act (background). Major floor items of the week are H.R. 4213, the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act, the tax extenders bill, and perhaps the America COMPETES Act reauthorization, which blew up on the House floor last week and was returned to committee. For the week’s floor schedule, see the House Majority Leader’s report.

President Obama on Tuesday travels to Youngstown, Ohio, and tour the facilities of V & M Star Ohio, a manufacturer of seamless tubular goods, before talking about the economy. On Wednesday, the President meets with President Calderón of Mexico and holds a joint news conference.

Four states hold primaries Tuesday: Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Oregon, with Senate races in the first three states drawing the most attention.

Senate Hearings: Monday – Senate Homeland Security, a hearing, “Gulf Coast Catastrophe: Assessing the Nation’s Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill“; Secretary Napolitano and Lamar McKay of BP America testify. Tuesday – Senate Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing on offshore oil and gas exploration, including the Deepwater Horizon accident; Secretary of Interior Salazar testifies. Commerce Committee’s take is a hearing, “Response Efforts to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill.” Energy and Public Works holds a hearing on the federal response to the oil spill, with EPA Administrator Jackson and Secretary Salazar testifying. Wednesday – Senate Commerce holds a hearing on S. 3302, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Thursday – A Banking subcommittee examines “the causes and lessons of the May 6 market plunge.” An Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing on “investing in mine safety.” A separate Appropriations subcommittee considers the FTC’s budget. A Finance subcommittee holds a hearing, “Clean Technology Manufacturing Competitiveness: The Role of Tax Incentives.”

House Hearings: Tuesday – House Financial Services holds a hearing on small business lending, focusing on the Administration’s plan to have the taxpayers capitalize community banks. Wednesday – House Transportation, a hearing, “Deepwater Horizon: Oil Spill Prevention and Response Measures and Natural Resource Impacts.” The House Science Committee holds a hearing to evaluate the Department of Energy’s roadmap for nuclear energy R&D; witnesses include Christofer Mowry, president  of Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy. House Ed&Labor looks at “Research and Best Practices on Successful School Turnaround.” Armed Services marks up H.R. 5136, FY11 DOD authorization. An Oversight subcommittee ponders “Defense Acquisitions: One Year After Reform.” Thursday – Ed&Labor reviews the impact of concussions on high school athletes. The full Oversight Committee asks why it’s taking the federal government so long to make the transition to Networx, a unified telcom system for the feds.  A Transportation subcommittee reviews pipeline safety inspections. Energy and Commerce holds a hearing on the health, safety and environmental effects of flame retardant chemicals, the latest substance to catch the attention of consumer activists/trial lawyers. Energy and Commerce’s oversight committee updates itself on Toyota sudden acceleration and the NHTSA. The Defense Subcommittee of Appropriations examines agencies under its jurisdiction. Ways & Means, the trade subcommittee, holds a hearing, “Customs Trade Facilitation and Enforcement in a Secure Environment.” A Judiciary subcommittee looks at the Administrative Conference of the United States. Friday – A Financial Services subcommittee reviews “Accounting and Auditing Standards: Pending Proposals and Emerging Issues.”

Executive Branch: There’s a heavy schedule of activity at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in conjunction with World Trade Week; Ambassador Kirk meets Tuesday with South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon. The White House sponsors a daylong confab at the Hyatt Regency, “Auto Communities and the Next Economy: Partnerships in Innovation,” with a heavy emphasis on Detroit. Secretary of Labor Solis is among the speakers. (Detroit News story.)

Economic Reports: Dow-Jones: “U.S. economic releases scheduled for the week include reports on foreign purchases of U.S. securities in March on Monday, April producer-price index and housing-starts data Tuesday, consumer-price index data for the same month Wednesday, and the [Conference Board’s] leading indicators for April on Thursday.” For more, see Neil Irwin’s “The Week Ahead” column, which highlights the Wednesday release of minutes from the Fed’s last meeting.

Happy Syttende Mai, everyone!

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