Dispatch from the Front: The Week of August 23

Washington slumbers, a bit more coolly than in recent weeks, while Congress is away. President Obama ends the First Family’s vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, travels Sunday to Louisiana to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and returns to Washington to give a major speech on the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.

Primary election votes are counted Tuesday in Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, Vermont and Alaska.

Congress is recessed, with the Senate returning Sept. 13 and the House Sept. 14.

Senate Hearings: It’s another week of field hearings to serve parochial purposes, mostly. Tuesday — Sen. Bingaman chairs a Senate HELP Committee field hearing in Albuquerque, N.M., “Innovative Approaches to School Time.” Sen. Conrad continues his Senate Budget Committee’s tour of North Dakota, meeting in Bowman on local infrastructure, highways. Thursday — An ad hoc subcommittee of Homeland Security holds a field hearing in Chalmette, La., “Five Years Later: Lessons Learned, Progress Made, and Work Remaining from Hurricane Katrina.” HUD Secretary Donovan and FEMA Director Fugate testify. Sen. Bernie Sanders chairs a HELP Committee field hearing in Montpelier, VT, “Investing in American Workers: The Benefits of Expanding Employee Ownership.Friday — The Senate Budget Committee considers the Stump Lake perspective on Devils Lake flooding, meeting at the Sunlac Inn in Lakota. It’s a big deal in Nelson County.

Executive Branch: Vice President Biden travels to Toledo, Ohio, today to the Chrysler plant to watch the first 2011 Jeep Wranglers come off the line and meet Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. On Thursday, the Veep promotes the stimulus bill at an event in Manchester, N.H. The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission — that’s the one appointed by the President — holds its second meeting Wednesday in Washington. The agenda reads likes an introductory seminar on offshore drilling.

    Economic Reports

: The big report of the week comes Friday, when the second-quarter GDP will be revised downward. On Tuesday, we get existing-home sales and July orders for durable goods. The Richmond Fed and Chicago Fed also release reports on regional manufacturing activity. New home-sales data are Wednesday. For more, see this Washington Post preview of the week.

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