Dispatch from the Front: The Week of May 7

President Obama remains focused on student loan interest rates and holds a conference call with students to discuss the issue today. Tomorrow, he will be in Albany, N.Y. before returning to Washington for the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies dinner. On Wednesday, he welcomes Burt Bacharach and Hal David to the White House. He rounds out the week on the West Coast, making his way to Seattle and Los Angeles (but not San Jose) and then to Reno on Friday.

The Senate returns after its weeklong recess and considers the Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act (S. 2343). It will also vote on three judicial nominees.

The House convenes this afternoon and will vote on a number of noncontroversial measures. The House will consider legislation to replace the automatic defense spending cuts as well as to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank (H.R. 2072). It will also consider the first of the FY 2012 appropriations bills (H.R. 5326).

Senate Hearings: WEDNESDAY—The Judiciary Committee conducts oversight of the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. A Banking subcommittee asks, “Is Simpler Better? Limiting Federal Support for Financial Institutions.” THURSDAY—The Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on legislation (S. 2374) relating to the Federal Helium Reserve. The Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Marietta Robinson to serve as a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

House Hearings: MONDAY—The Budget Committee considers legislation that would prevent automatic cuts in defense spending. TUESDAY—An Energy and Commerce subcommittee marks up legislation that would reauthorize Food and Drug Administration user fees programs. A Homeland Security subcommittee holds a hearing on “Building Secure Partnerships in Travel, Commerce, and Trade with the Asia-Pacific Region.” A Natural Resources subcommittee considers two bills (H.R. 3210 and H.R. 4171) that would reform the Lacey Act. THURSDAY—A Ways and Means subcommittee reviews Medicare’s competitive bidding program for medical equipment. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act (H.R. 4273) and the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act. The Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on offshore drilling.  The Small Business Committee considers high gas prices and their effect on small businesses. A Science, Space and Technology subcommittee holds a hearing on “Supporting American Jobs and the Economy through Expanded Energy Production: Challenges and Opportunities of Unconventional Resources Technology.” A Judiciary subcommittee considers the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act (H.R. 4369).

Executive Branch: Secretary Clinton continues her trip in Asia with visits to Bangladesh and India. On Wednesday, the Vice President hosts House Democratic freshmen for dinner. Also Wednesday, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson visits Cambridge, Mass. for a conference on the future of manufacturing in the United States. On Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden begin preparations for Mother’s Day and host an event honoring military mothers at the White House.

Economic Reports: From The New York Times: “Data to be reported this week will include consumer credit for March (Monday); wholesale trade inventories for March (Wednesday); weekly jobless claims, the trade deficit for March and import prices for April (Thursday); the Producer Price Index for April and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for May (Friday).”

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