Dispatch from the Front: The Week of January 24

President Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, and indications are that he will make competitiveness, innovation, taxation and deficits major themes.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Budget Committee chairman, delivers the Republican response. The White House goes full bore on the social media to spread the SOU message.

Camera shots of the lawmakers will emphasize a secondary storyline of the evening: Who’s sitting next to whom? And are they passing notes to one another?

The House convenes at noon today and begins debate on H.Res. 43, the rule for the bill to reduce non-security spending to Fiscal Year 2008 levels or less, H.R. 38. Also on the week’s floor agenda is H.R. 366, a temporary extension of federal small business programs; and H.R. 359, terminating taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions. The House is not in session Thursday and Friday. For the floor schedule, see the Majority Leader’s site.

Dyke Messinger, president and CEO of Power Curbers, Inc., and a member of the National Association of Manufacturers’ executive committee, testifies Wednesday at a hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee on the “State of the American Workforce.”

After a two-week break, the Senate reconvenes at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Senate Hearings:  Wednesday – Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a committee hearing on the National Oil Spill Commission and offshore drilling. Environment and Public Works looks at “Transportation’s Role in Supporting Our Economy and Job Creation.” Senate Judiciary holds a hearing that allows the Administration to promote its anti-consumer fraud efforts. Thursday – Senate HELP considers the impact of health insurance reform on health care consumers. Senate Budget holds a hearing on the budget and economic outlook, with testimony from CBO Director Elmendorf. Senate Judiciary marks up the Patent Reform Act of 2011 and U.S. District Court nominations. A subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing, “Gulf Coast Recovery: An Examination of Claims and Social Services in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.”

House Hearings: Many committees hold organizational meetings this week. Monday – A House Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on H.R. 10, the acronymically dubbed REINS Act, to require congressional approval of major regulations.  Tuesday – The House Ways & Means Committee considers jobs and the pending FTAs with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Foreign Affairs casts a skeptical eye on the United Nations. Wednesday: House Oversight holds a hearing on the Special Inspector General’s report on TARP, bailouts and the foreclosure crisis. House Budget reviews the fiscal impact of the 2010 health care law. Financial Services meets to ponder “Promoting Economic Recovery and Job Creation: The Road Forward.” Ways & Means holds a hearing on the economic impact of the 2010 health care law. Natural Resources reviews the report by the President’s Oil Spill Commission.

Executive Branch: Secretary of State Clinton is in Guanajuato, Mexico, today for a meeting with Foreign Minister Espinosa. U.S. Trade Representative Kirk and Ambassador Punke will travel to Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum and meetings on the Doha Development Agenda. (USTR schedule)

Economic Reports: On Tuesday, The Conference Board releases its report on consumer confidence, and S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index comes out. The Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to not raise interest rates will be announced Wednesday, with some speculation about its quantitative easing program. The Commerce Department also releases new-home sales figures Wednesday. On Friday, Commerce announces the fourth quarter GDP figure. See also Neil Irwin, Washington Post.

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