Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 9

Congress debates energy and gas prices, budgets and the debt ceiling insist upon themselves, and the latest round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue begins today in Washington.

President Obama meets today with the Chinese dialoguists at the White House, including Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo. (Companies want results, please.) On Tuesday the President travels to El Paso to promote comprehensive immigration reform and then jaunts over to a political fundraiser at the Austin City Limits stage. On Wednesday, the President participates in a CBS Town Hall on the economy at the Newseum. The President may also issue an executive order requiring disclosure of campaign contributions to qualify for federal contracts, a politically motivated attack on the First Amendment.

The House convenes Tuesday at noon and will debate H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act. On Wednesday, the energy debate will continue with H.R. 1231, Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act. On Thursday and Friday, the House will debate the FY2012 intelligence authorization. For more, see the Majority Leader’s report.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today and will debate the nomination of James Cole to be Deputy Attorney General. Senate Democrats are expected to bring a proposal to the floor to discourage domestic energy production by raising taxes on the oil and gas industry. The Senate Budget Committee may also see a budget plan from its chairman, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND). Or maybe not.

Senate Hearings: TUESDAY — A Senate Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on protecting privacy when using mobile devices. Senate Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing on new developments in upstream oil and gas technologies. Banking reviews the final report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Senate Finance considers deficit reduction and Social Security. WEDNESDAY –Senate Judiciary holds a hearing with the jejune title, “The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?” with witnesses including the CEOs, Randall L. Stephenson of AT&T, Philipp Humm of T-Mobile USA, and Daniel R. Hesse of Sprint Nextel Corporation. The Finance Committee holds a hearing on the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. Senate Commerce holds a hearing, “Manufacturing Our Way to a Stronger Economy,” with testimony from Stephanie Burns of Dow-Corning. THURSDAY – Energy and Natural Resources scrutinizes carbon capture and sequestration, including two related bills, S.699 and S.757. The HELP Committee asks, “The Endangered Middle Class: Is the American Dream Slipping Out of Reach for American Families?” Banking holds an oversight hearing on Dodd-Frank implementation, “Monitoring Systemic Risk and Promoting Financial Stability,” with Fed Chairman Bernanke testifying. Senate Judiciary marks up nominations and legislation, including the legally tenebrous S.623, Sunshine in Litigation Act. Senate Finance holds a hearing, “Oil and Gas Tax Incentives and Rising Energy Prices.”

House Hearings: TUESDAY – House Oversight committee holds a hearing, “The Future Of Capital Formation.” WEDNESDAY – A Homeland Security subcommittee discusses law enforcement, drug cartels and border security. Natural Resources holds a hearing,  “American Energy Initiative: Identifying Roadblocks to Wind and Solar Energy on Public Lands and Waters.” House Armed Services marks up H.R. 1540, the DOD authorization bill. An Education and Workforce subcommittee wonders how to go about “Removing Inefficiencies in the Nation’s Job Training Programs.” House Science reviews hydraulic fracturing technology and practices. A Financial Services subcommittee ponders the Federal Reserve, government debt, and the debt ceiling. A Transportation and Infrastructure Committee subcommittee hears from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at a hearing, “EPA Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachian Jobs – Part II.”  A Financial Services subcommittee considers proposals to address the negative consequences of the Dodd-Frank whistleblower provisions.  Ways & Means holds a hearing, “Need for Comprehensive Tax Reform to Help American Companies Compete in the Global Market and Create Jobs for American Workers.” Financial Services marks up bills, including an extension of the deadline for Dodd-Frank Act’s derivatives provisions. Foreign Affairs holds a hearing on export controls, arms sales and reforms; administration officials testify. The Agriculture Committee holds a hearing on the pending free trade agreements.   An Oversight subcommittee joins the Small Business Committee to ask the question, “Politicizing Procurement: Will President Obama’s Proposal Curb Free Speech and Hurt Small Business?” FRIDAY — Energy and Commerce holds a hearing on FCC process reform, with the commissioners testifying.  A Science subcommittee holds a hearing on nuclear energy risk management. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing, “The American Energy Initiative: the Jobs and Permitting Act of 2011.”

Executive Branch: The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue involves Treasury Secretary Geithner, Secretary of State Clinton, Commerce Secretary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, among others. Transportation Secretary LaHood heads to NYC and Detroit today to make “major” announcements about high-speed intercity rail involving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. On Friday, Commerce Secretary Locke travels to Wilmington, Del., for the fourth stop of the New Markets, New Jobs: National Export Initiative Small Business Tour. See also USTR’s weekly schedule.

Economic Reports: From The New York Times: “Data will include import prices for April and wholesale trade inventories for March (Tuesday); the trade deficit for March (Wednesday); the Producer Price Index for April, retail sales for April, weekly jobless claims and business inventories for March (Thursday); and the Consumer Price Index for April and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for May (Friday).” See also Neil Irwin’s week-ahead column in The Washington Post.

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