Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 2

Congress returns from its two-week recess today, with previous plans and schedules in flux after the killing of Osama bin Laden. The debt ceiling remains a major theme, and the House will vote on legislation to expand domestic oil and gas production. Unemployment figures for April are released Friday, which should return the political focus to the economy.

Canadians vote in national parliamentary elections today, dubbed “Canada’s capitalism referendum” by Mary Anastasia O’Grady.

According to his schedule released Saturday, President Obama awards two Medals of Honor today and in the evening welcomes  bipartisan Congressional leaders and their spouses to a White House dinner. On Tuesday, the President presides over a Cabinet meeting and then honors award-winning teachers. On Wednesday, the President welcomes Charles, Prince of Wales, to the White House. More on the President’s schedule.

The House convenes at 2 p.m. today and gets back into the business of naming post offices under suspension of the rules. On Tuesday, the House debates H.R. 1213, repeal mandatory funding provided to states in the Patient  Protection and Affordable Care Act to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges, and H.R. 1214, to repeal  mandatory funding for school-based health center construction. On Wednesday, the House considers  H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. On Thursday, the issue is energy, with debate on H.R. 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, and possible consideration of H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act. For more, see the Majority Leader’s schedule.

House Hearings: TUESDAY – A Financial Services subcommittee marks up bills, including H.R. 1082, Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act; H.R.1539, Asset-Backed Market Stabilization Act; and H.R.1610, Business Risk Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act. House Agriculture holds a joint hearing with Natural Resources on overregulation, with fisheries and pesticides two topics. House Judiciary holds an oversight hearing on the Department of Justice, with AG Holder testifying. WEDNESDAY – Two Energy and Commerce subcommittees hold a joint hearing on the NRC and nuclear power. A separate subcommittee considers the threat of data theft to U.S. consumers. A Natural Resources subcommittee considers how to protect hydropower investments in the West. House Science marks up H.R. 1425, reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs. The Agriculture Committee marks up H.R. 1573, on OTC swaps market regulation. House Transportation and Infrastructure assesses stimulus spending. A Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing, “Cost-Justifying Regulations: Protecting Jobs and the Economy by Presidential and Judicial Review of Costs and Benefits.”The Transportation Subcommittee of Homeland Security considers the MODERN Security Credentials Act, with testimony from the trucking industry and ports officials. An Agriculture subcommittee looks at the state of the pork industry.  THURSDAY – An Energy and Commerce subcommittees considers alternative transportation fuels and vehicles. House Financial Services Committee reviews Treasury’s annual report on the international financial system. A Science subcommittee reviews the FAA’s commercial space transportation budget. HHS Secretary Sebelius testifies before the Ed&Workforce committee on the department’s programs. A Judiciary subcommittee considers Internet competition, net neutrality and antitrust. A Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee holds a hearing, “EPA Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachian Jobs – Part I.” FRIDAY – House Oversight holds a field hearing in Bakersfield, “Can New and Safe Oil Extraction Technologies Help Address Gas Prices?” Claro!

Senate Hearings: TUESDAY– The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing, “Is the Distribution of Tax Burdens and Tax Benefits Equitable?” Energy and Natural Resources considers a proposal for a Clean Energy Deployment Administration. An Armed Services subcommittee reviews the defense industrial base, its science and technology. WEDNESDAY– Labor Secretary Solis testifies before an Appropriations subcommittee on the Labor Department’s budget.  Attorney General Holder testifies at a Judiciary oversight hearing on the Department of Justice. Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano testifies before the Homeland Security Committee on security the nation’s border. Senate Finance considers budget enforcement mechanisms. THURSDAY: Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing on cybersecurity and electric infrastructure. (Super-villains are always trying to take over the grid.) Senate Judiciary marks up S.350, the Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act, and trial-lawyer supported S.623, Sunshine in Litigation Act. Senate Commerce marks up bills, including S. 275, Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act. HELP Committee holds a hearing on health quality and patient safety. A Finance Committee holds a subcommittee hearing on trade, customs fraud and duty evasion.

Executive Branch: Attorney General Holder holds a meeting of the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group today. Secretary of Labor Solis announces the launch of H-1B technical skills training grant competition. Secretary of Commerce Locke speaks  Wednesday at the Woodrow Wilson Center on Chinese investment in the U.S., as well as progress on commitments the Chinese government has made to improve its trading practices. The Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and the Wilson Center will be releasing a new report about Chinese foreign direct investment in America. Faced with issues of domestic energy development, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Tuesday joins in the release of the State of the Birds 2011 Report on Public Lands and Waters and on Thursday participates in the release of the report of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission.

Economic Reports: From The New York Times: “Data will include the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index for April, and construction spending for March (Monday); vehicle sales for April and factory orders for March (Tuesday); the ADP employment report and I.S.M. service index for April (Wednesday); same-store retail sales for April, first-quarter productivity and weekly jobless claims (Thursday); and unemployment for April and consumer credit for March  (Friday).” See also Neil Irwin’s preview in The Washington Post.

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