Dispatch from the Front: The Week of November 29

The lameduck Congress returns, the President confers, and major tax increases are now less than a month away unless both act to extend the current rates. The continuing resolution expires on Friday, requiring action beforehand to keep the federal government full of vim and vigor.

The Manufacturing Institute and National Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday sponsor the first National Manufacturing Talent Development Roundtable at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington. More details.

President Obama hosts members of Congressional leadership at the White House Tuesday, with taxes on the list of discussion points. Wikileaks and North Korean saber rattling could also engage the President’s attention.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today and returns to S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, with votes on amendments starting at 6:30 p.m. Vice President Biden swears in the new Republican Senator from Illinois, Mark Kirk. Other issues that could reach the Senate floor: immigration via the DREAM Act, “don’t ask, don’t tell” as part of the defense authorization, and ratification of the arms control treaty with Russia. AP previews the lameduck agenda here.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. with nine items on the suspension calendar, including H.R. 5866, the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act, making FY2011-13 authorizations. Tuesday’s schedule features 21 bills on suspension, among them S. 1421, the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (the most modest of the Asian carp bills). Along with the continuing resolution, major items on the floor this week are H.R. 4783, which now funds the Pigford and Cobell settlements with black farmers; and S. 3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. For more on the week ahead, see Majority Leader Hoyer’s release.

Senate Hearings: Tuesday — Senate Environment and Public Works marks up sundry bills, including S. 3874, Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, and S. 3973, Diesel Emission Reduction Act. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) chairs a Judiciary subcommittee hearing on enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Small Business Committee marks up S. 3967, Sen. Landrieu’s bill to encourage investment in and innovation by small business. Wednesday — Senate Commerce holds a hearing on NASA. The Commerce Committee also considers, “Are Mini Med Policies Really Health Insurance?” Senate Finance Committee mulls “Future of U.S. Policy in Latin America.” The Judiciary Committee attempts again to mark-up judicial nominations and several bills, including S.3728, Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act. Thursday — A Commerce subcommittee holds what purports to be an oversight hearing on the CPSC, subtitled, “Product Safety in the Holiday Season.” Commerce’s aviation subcommittee holds a hearing, “International Aviation Screening Standards.” Senate Finance reviews “Tax Reform: Historical Trends in Income and Revenue.”

House Hearings: Wednesday – A Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing “Antitrust Laws and Their Effects on Health Care Providers, Insurers and Patients.” Foreign Relations considers “Implementing Tougher Sanctions on Iran: A Progress Report.” Thursday – The full Judiciary Committee studies the causes and effects of the foreclosure crisis.  An Energy and Commerce subcommittee reviews online advertising and “do not track” legislation.

Executive Branch: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaks this morning at the Aspen Institute in Washington on the agency’s 40 years. Energy Secretary Chu gives a National Press Club luncheon address on innovation, energy and climate. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week visits three -stans and a -rain: Kazakhstan, Kyrgistan, Uzbekistan and Bahrain.

Economic Reports: The big news comes this week from two reports.  On Tuesday, Goldman– ICSC and Redbook Research release their retail reports for the previous week, including Black Friday. On Friday, the Department of Labor releases the national employment report for November. Other data due for release: Case-Shiller home prices for September, Tuesday; the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing report for November, Wednesday. Also Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book on the economy. For the full list of reports, see Marketwatch’s calendar, and Neil Irwin has more on the week ahead at The Washington Post.

The United Nations’ annual conference on climate change begins today in Cancun, Mexico. (High 80, low 66, chance of rain.) As AP reports, the conference will attract “15,000 government delegates, environmentalists, business leaders, journalists and others.” Missing are the high-level Obama Administration officials who descended upon last year’s Copenhagenhaggle.

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