Dispatch from the Front: The Week of February 21

Congress is away from Washington for the Presidents’ Day recess, readying itself for the coming spending battles, while President Obama calls the first meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Today is a federal holiday, and the National Association of Manufacturers is observant.

The House reconvenes at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28. The Senate convenes simultaneously  for the annual reading of George Washington’s Farewell Address. The continuing resolution expires on March 4.

President Obama and several cabinet members travel to Cleveland Tuesday for a  “Winning the Future Forum on Small Business” in association with Cleveland State University and local economic development groups, JumpStart and NorTech. On Thursday, he convenes a meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at the White House, which we assume means he’ll announce the other members sometime this week. More on President Obama’s schedule here.

Unrest in Libya and Wisconsin will otherwise dominate the news, and no, we won’t offer any strained analogies.

Senate Hearings: Monday – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a field hearing in Albuquerque, N.M., on “recent natural gas service disruptions in New Mexico and the reliability of regional energy infrastructure.” Wednesday – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a joint field hearing in Los Angeles with the House Transportation Committee on surface transportation and the economy. Friday – The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a field hearing in Pewaukee, Wis., on the Southwest/AirTran merger and its impact on Milwaukee-area businesses and consumers.

House Hearing
: Thursday – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a field hearing in Oklahoma City, “Improving and Reforming Our Nation’s Surface Transportation Programs.” The committee is also holding “listening sessions” around the country on the highway bill.

Executive Branch: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is in New Zealand and Australia this week. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk speaks Wednesday in Austin, Texas, on exports and jobs.  (USTR’s public schedule.)

Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court begins two weeks of oral arguments starting Tuesday. On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments in Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB, a patent infringement case over a deep-fat fryer.

Economic Reports: The New York Times reports: Scheduled for this week are the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price indexes for December, and the fourth quarter and consumer confidence for February (Tuesday); existing home sales for January (Wednesday); durable goods orders and new-home sales for January and initial jobless claims (Thursday); and gross domestic product for the fourth quarter and the Thomson Reuters-University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for February (Friday). See also Neil Irwin’s column in The Washington Post.

The National Governors Association convenes Saturday at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C.

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