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State of Union Address | Debt limit hike | Securities legislation | Keystone XL pipeline| U.S. budget legislation
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President Obama's State of the Union address, repeal of a part of the health care law, and possible action on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization measure will be the focus of Congress this week, as the Senate joins House members back for 2012 action.
The Senate will focus on President Obama's request for a $1.2 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit, and could vote on an agreement for a long-term extension of FAA. The House Jan. 18 passed a resolution (HJRes 98) rejecting the request, but that action may have little consequence as the Senate is expected to approve the raise, the third and final installment of the debt limit deal agreed from last August.
House members will consider the CLASS Act (HR 1173), and a bill (HR 3575) to change the current budgetary process. The budget measure, called the Legally Binding Budget Act of 2011, would change the budgetary process from a concurrent resolution to a joint resolution, a shift which would require the president's signature and give the measure the force of law. House GOP leadership also is scheduled to vote on the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011. That bill, approved by the House Ways and Means Committee Jan. 18, aims to repeal the CLASS program, a piece of the administration's health care reform law that provided insurance for long-term care.
Both chambers will meet for a joint session of Congress Jan. 24 to receive the president's State of the Union speech. President Obama's speech is expected to lay several of his short- and long-term initiatives, including an extension of the payroll tax cut, job creation programs, and energy-related incentives. That speech is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. CT in the House chamber.
Obama's campaign on Jan. 21 released a video to frame the president's address, during which the president will ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. Obama said the speech in many ways would be a "bookend" to the speech he gave in Kansas last month, when he said this was a make-or-break moment for the middle class. In a Dec. 6 speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, Obama called on Congress to not only extend the payroll tax cut, but to pay for it though an increase in taxes on the wealthy and to fundamentally re-think the nation's tax system. The country now has a choice between two directions: one toward less opportunity and fairness, and one toward an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few, Obama said in his video. "On Tuesday night, I'm going to talk about how we'll get there. I'm going to lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last," he said. This will include American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped "Made in America;" American energy, fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources; and skills for workers, getting people the education and training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow, Obama said. "And most importantly, a return to American values. A fairness for all, and responsibility from all. They're big ideas, because we've got to meet this moment. And this speech is going to be about how we do it," Obama said.
House members have another short week, with Democrats set to leave for Cambridge, Md. on Jan. 26 for a three-day issues conference to set their legislative priorities.
The House Agriculture Committee Wednesday will meet to markup six bills to amend securities regulations. The full committee will mark up the Business Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act of 2011 (HR 2682), which would allow certain non-financial entities that are counterparties in swap or security-based swap transactions to be exempted from current laws that require such entities to meet certain margin requirements; and a bill (HR 1840) which would improve consideration by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) of the costs and benefits of its regulations and orders. The other bills include a measure (HR2779) that would exempt inter-affiliate swaps from certain regulatory requirements in the Dodd-Frank Act; the Swap Execution Facility Clarification Act (HR 2586), to refine the definition of swap execution facility in the provisions regulating swap markets; the Small Business Credit Availability Act (HR 3336), to ensure the exclusion of small lenders from certain regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act; and the Protecting Main Street End-Users from Excessive Regulation Act (HR 3527), which would amend the Commodity Exchange Act to clarify the definition of swap dealer.
Other events on tap this week include hearings on the Keystone XL pipeline, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and U.S. budget legislation.
Monday, Jan. 23
Asia: Many Asian markets are closed for the lunar New Year, including Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. China's market remains closed all week (Chinese New Year begins – year of the dragon).
EU: Ministers of the European Union meet to decide whether to impose an oil embargo on Iran.
Italy outlines economic measures to European Union finance ministers.
GOP debate: Republican presidential contenders debate.
Energy: The US Energy Information Administration releases its annual outlook.
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve).
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Milk Production (NASS) | Chicken and Eggs (NASS) | North American Potatoes (NASS).
Tuesday, Jan. 24
State of Union Address: President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.
Japan: The Bank of Japan will consider lowering its estimate of growth in Fiscal 2011 and Fiscal 2012, Kyodo News reported, citing sources close to the matter.