Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 16

The federal government hits the debt ceiling, the House is on recess, the Senate debates raising taxes on energy, and the President turns to the Middle East.

President Obama heads to Memphis today, delivers a high school commencement address, and then meets with families affected by Mississippi flooding.  Back in Washington he hosts the UConn men’s NCAA championship basketball team at the White House and then attends two DNC fundraisers. The President meets with King Abdullah of Jordan on Tuesday, gives a speech on the Middle East Thursday, and talks with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.

The House is on recess until Monday, May 23.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. This week the Senate is expected to consider S. 940, Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, the bill by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to raise taxes on energy production by requiring  oil companies to pay more  for drilling on federal land and to remove tax deductions for companies that drill in foreign countries.

Federal borrowing smacks into the debt ceiling today. Here’s the letter from trade associations including the National Association of Manufacturers calling on Congress to lift the ceiling.

Senate Hearing: TUESDAY — A Senate Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on security and commerce at America’s northern borders and ports of entry. The Senate Banking Committee considers the Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization, with Chairman Fred Hochberg testifying.  Senate Finance holds a hearing on financing of infrastructure and replenishing the Highway Trust Fund.  Energy and Natural Resources holds hearing on S. 516, the Lease Extension and Secure Energy Act; S.843, Outer Continental Shelf Permit Processing Coordination Act;  S.916, to facilitate oil and gas development on federal land and waters; and S.917, to reform the management of OCS energy and mineral resource. (Details) WEDNESDAY – A Banking subcommittee reviews the state of the securitization markets. An Armed Services subcommittee checks into the current materiel readiness of the U.S. military.  The Armed Services Sea Power subcommittee reviews the Marines Corps’ acquisition program. An Appropriations subcommittee hears from Energy Security Chu on the department’s budget. THURSDAY – Senate Judiciary again schedules a markup of S. 350, to criminalize more violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, S. 623, the stygian Sunshine in Litigation Act, and S. 890, the Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act.  Energy and Natural Resources promotes advanced vehicle technologies and electric-drive vehicles, considering related bills S. 734 and S. 948. The Small Business Committee asks how last year’s Small Business Jobs Act is working out. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs holds a hearing on reauthorizing public transportation.

Executive Branch: The White House unveils its “U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace” today at an event featuring Secretary of State Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano. Vice President Biden attends the inauguration of Rahm Emanuel as Chicago’s mayor today. Commerce Secretary Locke today presents the “E” awards to 27 U.S. companies for contributing to U.S. exports.  On Tuesday, Secretary Locke travels to Minnesota to promote exports as part of the President’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council’s activities, joining Eastman Kodak CEO Antonio Perez and Permac Industries President and CEO Darlene Miller. The 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting for ministers responsible for trade begins Tuesday in Big Sky, Mont.  (Big Sky? About 700 miles from the Pacific Ocean, since you ask.) Attending are Secretary Locke, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other USTR officials (USTR’s week ahead.)

Economic Reports: From The New York Times: Data will include housing starts for April and industrial production and capacity utilization for April (Tuesday); and weekly jobless claims, existing home sales for April, the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index for May, and leading economic indicators for April (Thursday).” For more, see Associated Press’s week ahead.

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