Dispatch from the Front: The Week of July 12

Congress returns after the July 4th recess and the spotlight shines brightest on the Senate, which may consider the financial services regulation bill and confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. The President’s oil spill commission holds its first meetings starting today in New Orleans.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today. Senate Majority Reid hopes to get to a vote this week on H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill. Senate Judiciary on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Elena Kagan to serve on the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans can delay the vote until next week.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday. After 16 items on the suspensions calendar are H.R. 1722, Telework Improvements Act, H.R. 5114, Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act. For more, see the House Majority Leader’s schedule for the week.

President Obama today meets with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, while the First Lady travels to Panama Beach, Fla., for an update on the Deepwater Horizon spill. On Thursday, he delivers remarks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Compact Power battery plant in Holland, Mich. On Friday, the President and his family travel to Acadia National Park in Maine for a weekend at the beach. More here.

Senate Hearings: Tuesday – Senate Judiciary votes on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court; also considered is H.R.2765,  a bill to limit “libel tourism,” i.e., using foreign courts to pursue libel suits that cannot stand muster in U.S. courts. A Homeland Security subcommittee considers the cost-effectiveness of weapons procurement. Wednesday – A Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on S. 2930, the Evaluating the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on the future of individual tax rates and their effects on economic growth and distribution. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee dives into the federal response to the Asian carp coming into Lake Michigan. A Finance subcommittee considers, “Marine Wealth: Promoting Conservation and Advancing American Exports.”

House Hearings: Monday – A Homeland Security subcommittee holds a field hearing in New Orleans on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill chain of command and information hearing. Tuesday – A Financial Services subcommittee meets in Canfield, Ohio, on Delphi retirees and their benefits. The Education and Labor Committee holds a hearing on H.R. 5663, the Miner Safety and Health Act; testifying for the Coalition for Workplace Safety — to which the NAM belongs — is Jonathan Snare, a partner with Morgan Lewis. A Judiciary subcommittee reviews the effects of  China’s antitrust law and other competition policies on U.S. companies. Wednesday – A  Judiciary subcommittee posits, “The Ethical Imperative for Reform of our Immigration System.” The House Natural Resources Committee marks up H.R. 3534, to consolidate federal mining and energy programs into an Office of Federal Energy and Minerals Leasing.  House Small Business holds a hearing on bonus depreciation. House Agriculture marks up H.R. 4785, the Rural Energy Savings Program Act. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on H.R. 4692, the National Manufacturing Strategy Act. The Health Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce examines antibiotic resistance and animal agriculture. Thursday – A Transportation subcommittee continues its hearings on the safety of hazardous liquid pipelines. A Science subcommittee plans for the future of cyber attack attribution, a spokesman said. A Natural Resources subcommittee digs into the Bureau of Reclamation and stimulus projects. A Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on H.R. 901, the Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act, which, among other things, exempts from means testing debtors who financial problems were caused by serious medical problems. (Didn’t health care reform fix this problem?) House Veterans Affair marks up numerous bills, including several to promote workforce training.  A Transportation subcommittee holds a hearing on clean water infrastructure investment.

Executive Branch: U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk speaks via phone with South Korea’s trade minister on Wednesday; Kirk travels to Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday. (USTR’s public schedule.) Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke visits the University of Michigan on Tuesday for an invitation-only conference on the university’s technology commercialization and business development.

Economic Reports:From The Seattle Times: “On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases the May update on the trade deficit and the Treasury releases figures on the federal budget deficit for June. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its June interest-rate meeting with an updated economic forecast; Commerce releases retail-sales figures for June and also business inventories for May. On Thursday, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims and the producer price index for June and the Federal Reserve releases figures on industrial production for June. On Friday, the Labor Department releases the consumer price index for May.” See also Neil Irwin’s WaPo column.

The National Oil Spill Commission meets today and Tuesday in New Orleans (agenda), while BP tries again to contain the Deepwater Horizon spill. The Commission, appointed by President Obama, has drawn criticism for its membership selected on the basis of politics, not expertise. (Frances Beinecke, the head of the Natural Resources Defense Commission, is a member). The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to create a separate bipartisan panel.

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