Dispatch from the Front: The Week of March 28

President Obama speaks on Libya, the Senate considers reining in the hyperkinetic EPA, and the budget battles continue in Congress.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. and moves to consideration of S. 493, SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act. The legislation is the vehicle for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s amendment to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emission, and other related maneuvers.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Major items on the floor schedule this week include Tuesday’s consideration on suspension of H.R. 1079, the Airport and Airway Extension Act, and H.R. 839, the HAMP Termination Act. The Wednesday schedule features H.R. 471, Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, and H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. Debate begins Thursday on H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act, with possible consideration of an amendment to block new regulations governing lithium battery transports. For more, see the Majority Leader’s weekly schedule.

The continuing resolution expires April 8, so machinations continue over the 2011 budget, the 2012 budget, deficits, debt and the fiscal stability of the United States.

President Obama is scheduled to address the nation tonight on the U.S. involvement in Libya. The speech is planned for 7:30 Eastern from the National Defense University. On Thursday, the President travels to New York City to dedicate the Ronald H. Brown Mission to the United Nations Building

Doug Oberhelman, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar and vice chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers, testifies Wednesday at a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on the U.S.-Panam Free Trade Agreement. Hearing details.

Senate Hearings: Tuesday — Senate Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing on recent events at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex after the earthquake and tsunami. A Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee examines tools to prevent DOD cost overruns. The Commerce Committee considers the economic ramifications of cyber threats and private-sector vulnerabilities. Wednesday – Senate Finance seeks answers to the question, “How Do Complexity, Uncertainty and Other Factors Impact Responses to Tax Incentives?” An Appropriations subcommittee reviews the HHS budget, with Secretary Sebelius testifying. Another Appropriations subcommittee considers nuclear safety in light of the Japanese disasters. The Agriculture Committee holds a hearing on high gas prices and farming. A Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on motorcoach safety. Thursday — Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing on S. 629, to improve hydropower, and S. 640, on marine and hydrokinetic energy. Judiciary marks up bills and votes on nomination of Jack McConnell of Motley Rice to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island , and Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit. Senate HELP holds a hearing on improving safety at dangerous mines. Finance Committee considers Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Homeland Security holds a hearing on securing the border.

House HearingsTuesday — A House Appropriations subcommittee hears from Transportation Secretary LaHood on the DOT’s budget. A Transportation subcommittee starts two days of hearings on improving surface transportation programs. A Judiciary subcommittee considers the quality of agency regulations. Wednesday — Natural Resources reviews the budget and mission of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. An Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing on DOE’s budget for energy efficiency, renewables and the like. Homeland Security considers how well public safety communications are serving the needs of first responders. A Science subcommittee ventures into NASA’s exploration programs, “Issues for Congress and Industry.” Ways & Means holds another “Impediments to Job Creation” hearing, this time focusing on budget deficits and federal debt. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee examines the effect of the 2010 health care law on budgets and jobs. A Transportation subcommittee starts two days of hearings on  how to improve the nation’s surface transportation programs. House Small Business holds a hearing, “Reducing Federal Agency Overreach: Modernizing the Regulatory Flexibility Act.” A Judiciary subcommittee examines patent reform legislation. An Oversight subcommittee holds a hearing, “Unfunded Mandates and Regulatory Overreach Part II.” A Financial Services subcommittee holds an oversight hearing on the costs of implementing Dodd-Frank. Thursday –– An Energy and Commerce subcommittee reviews H.R. 908, extending the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program. An Appropriations subcommittees considers the CPSC budget. Natural Resources examines the impact of gas prices on businesses and families. A House Science subcommittee practices skepticism on climate change policy and science. An Education and Workforce subcommittee ponders union transparency and accountability, or the absence thereof. Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee looks at H-1B visas. A Foreign Affairs subcommittee posits “The urgent case for Canadian oil.” An Appropriations subcommittee considers the DOE’s budget for loan guarantees and ARPA-E. A Science subcommittee looks at the SBIR and STTR programs. A Foreign Affairs subcommittee contemplates protecting U.S. interests in China and Asia, with trade one of the issues. Friday — An Appropriations subcommittee hears from Secretary Sebelius on the HHS budget. The Ag subcommittee of Appropriations meets on the budget for the USDA’s food, nutrition and consumer services. A Natural Resources subcommittee holds a hearing on energy development on Indian lands.

Executive Branch: Commerce Secretary Locke gives the keynote address Tuesday at the Asia Pacific Business Outlook conference at the USC Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles. Treasury Secretary Geithner visits Nanjing, China, on Thursday in preparation for the U.S.-China Economic Dialogue.

Judicial Branch: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in CSX v. McBride, “Whether a railroad employee injured on the job must show that his employer’s negligence was the proximate cause (that is, the main cause) of the injury to recover under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, or whether it is enough to show that the employer’s negligence played some part in the injury.” On Tuesday, the Supreme Court hears the largest class-action lawsuit in history, Wal-Mart Stores v. Betty Dukes, dealing with female employees and the proper certification of classses. (Scotusblog entry.)

Economic Reports: The major economic report of the week is the March unemployment figures, released Friday. Otherwise, as The New York Times reports: “Data will include personal income and spending for February (Monday); the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index (Tuesday); initial jobless claims (Thursday); and the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index (Friday).” For more, see Neil Irwin’s Washington Post column.

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