Dispatch from the Front: The Week of April 18

Congress is on a two-week recess, the deficit and debt remain high-profile topics, and the Supreme Court hears an appeal from utilities on a lawsuit over greenhouse gas emissions with profound implications for energy policy and the American experiment.

President Obama holds what are billed as town hall meetings Tuesday in northern Virginia, Wednesday at Facebook HQ in Palo Alto and Thursday in Reno, where he will “discuss reducing our debt and bringing down our deficit, based on the values of shared responsibility and shared prosperity.” While on the West Coast, he will appear at DNC fundraisers. More of the schedule.

Both the House and Senate reconvene at 2 p.m. Monday, May 2, with the Senate taking up judicial nominations.

It’s an ecumenical week of religious observances. Tax Day is today, Passover begins at sundown tonight, Earth Day is accompanied by the Lyrids meteor shower on Friday, and Good Friday is followed by Easter Sunday.

House Hearings: MONDAY — The House Natural Resources Committee holds a field hearing in Houma, La., “Gulf of Mexico: A Focus on Community Recovery and New Response Technology.” The House Oversight Committee holds a field hearing in San Jose, Calif., “Policies Affecting High Tech Growth and Federal Adoption of Industry Best Practices.” TUESDAY – The House Oversight Committee is in Salinas, Calif., for a hearing, “Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation: Assessing the Cumulative Impact of EPA Regulation on America’s Farmers.” WEDNESDAY – An Oversight subcommittee travels to Irondequoit, N.Y., for a hearing on regulatory impediments to job creation. The hearing continues that afternoon  in SyracuseTHURSDAY – House Education and Workforce holds a field hearing at Columbia State Community College in Tennessee on the role of higher education in job growth and development.

Executive Branch: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar speaks today at the first meeting of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee.

Judicial Branch: The U.S. Supreme Court this morning hears oral arguments in Microsoft v. i4i Limited Partnership,  involving the standards of proof in patent suits. On Tuesday, the court hears American Electric Power Company Inc. v. Connecticut, an appeal of a lawsuit brought by states and environmental groups against electric utilities for creating a public nuisance by contributing to global warming. We previewed the oral arguments here, and the National Association of Manufacturers’ amicus brief in support of the appeal is available here.

Economic Reports: From The New York Times, “Data will include housing starts for March (Tuesday); existing home sales for March (Wednesday); and leading economic indicators for March (Thursday).” Markets are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.

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