Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 24

It’s the last week of Congress before the Memorial Day recess, with plenty of activity on Capitol Hill, including the tax extenders bill, financial regulation, and more committee hearings on the Deepwater Horizon spill. The U.S. China Strategic Economic Dialogue is under way in Beijing.

President Obama meets with Prime Minister Saad Harari of Lebanon today. On Tuesday, the President hosts small businesses at the White House to coincide with National Small Business Week. He then meets with Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano. The President flies to San Francisco for fundraisers (Barbara Boxer and DNC). On Wednesday, he visits the Solyndra, Inc. solar panel factory in Fremont for a tour and remarks on the economy. (Week’s longer schedule.)

The House convenes at 12:30 p.m. today, attempting to cram a lot of legislating into the week. Major items on the floor schedule start with H.R. 4213, the tax extenders bill with unemployment and COBRA subsidy extensions and federal aid to states that budgeted poorly. Also on the floor are H.R. 5136, the defense authorization, more consideration of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, and potentially, H.R. 5175, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act. In this case, “casting light” means limiting political speech.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. At 3 p.m., the Senate begins consideration of H.R. 4899, the $58.8 billion supplemental spending bill. Conferees will be appointed to H.R. 4173, the financial regulation bill, after votes on motions to instruct — Brownback to exempt auto dealers and Hutchison on proprietary trading. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) may bring her resolution to disapprove EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, S.J.Res. 26, to the floor.

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

Senate Hearings: Tuesday – Senate Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing on liability and financial responsibility related to offshore oil production, including S. 3346, to retroactively increase liability limit to $10 billion. Senate Finance considers, “Reducing Overpayments and Increasing Quality in the Unemployment System.” HELP committee continues its review of Elementary and Secondary Education Act, focusing on early childhood education. Wednesday – Senate Aging chews over dietary supplements. The communications subcommittee of Senate Commerce considers the innovation/technology aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thursday – The Small Business committee examines the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Senate HELP holds a rescheduled hearing, “Building a Secure Future for Multiemployer Pension Plans.” Senate Commerce holds a hearing on the airline industry’s finances and consolidation. EPW holds a hearing on Water Resources Development Act reauthorization.

House Hearings: House Ed&Labor holds a field hearing in Beckley, WV, on the Upper Big Branch Mine accident. Tuesday – A Judiciary subcommittee considers H.R. 4677, the Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act. Wednesday – House Natural Resources holds a hearing on the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, with Secretary of Interior Salazar testifying along with NOAA and MMS officials. It’s the first of a seven-part series of hearings. The Transportation and Infrastructure updates the stimulus bill’s infrastructure investments. An Oversight subcommittee assesses the EPA’s efforts to measure and reduce mercury pollution from dentist offices. The full Oversight Committee holds a hearing on recalls of over the counter infant and children’s medicine produced by Johnson & Johnson. Thursday – The full Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on legal liability issues surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. House Natural Resources holds a hearing on Deepwater Horizon, with testimony from BP’s Lamar McKay and Steven Newman of Transocean. Energy and Commerce holds a hearing on developments in synthetic genomics. An Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee looks at the BP oil spill. Ways & Means’ oversight subcommittee reviews tobacco smuggling and excise tax compliance.

Executive Branch: Treasury Secretary Geithner, Secretary of State Clinton and Commerce Secretary Locke are among the officials in China for a meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. Clinton then heads to Seoul. The Future of Aviation Advisory Committee meets for the first time Tuesday.

Economic Reports: From Forbes.com, “[The] week starts off on Monday morning with April existing home sales. Tuesday’s data will include the May Conference Board Consumer Confidence survey and the March Case-Schiller housing price index. April durable goods orders and new home sales data will be published on Wednesday. Thursday has the first revision to first-quarter GDP and the weekly jobless claims numbers. The revised May University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey and April personal income and spending end the week on Friday.” See also Neil Irwin, Washington Post, “This Week: A treasure trove of new data on home sales.”

Leave a Reply