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The Week Ahead: March 26-April 1,2012

March 26, 2012
By: Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer Washington Consultant

Untitled Document

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

TOPICS: House budget resolution | Surface transportation | Oil industry tax breaks | USDA reports

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

House action today on a 90-day surface transportation reauthorization bill, a House vote on the FY 2013 budget resolution, a vote on eliminating oil and gas industry tax breaks, and some important USDA reports released Friday are the Washington focus this week. The House is not expected to be in session on March 30. At the end of the week's business, both chambers will depart for a two-week recess. The Senate and the House are set to reconvene April 16.

House GOP leaders want to debate their Fiscal Year 2013 budget blueprint – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) both said last week that a final vote would probably occur March 29. The plan was adopted on a nearly party-line vote of 198-18 during a March 21 House Budget Committee meeting. The legislation, largely written by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), proposes $3.530 trillion in spending and $2.734 trillion in revenues, leaving a deficit of $797 billion. Other budget alternatives are expected to be offered on the floor.

House members today will also consider a 90-day of the current surface transportation bill (HR 4239), which is set to expire on March 31. President Obama used his Saturday weekly radio address to repeat his call for Congress to pass a multi-year highway and transit bill. "In a matter of days, funding will stop for all sorts of transportation projects," he said. "Construction sites will go idle. Workers will have to go home. And our economy will take a hit." He did not call for a short-term extension, but for the House to follow the Senate's lead and pass a new bill.

The Senate will consider separate motions to proceed to legislation (HR 2204) dealing with oil and gas tax breaks for the energy industry and to a bill (S 1789) that would make the U.S. Postal Service more cost efficient. The tax/energy bill would extend several tax incentives for the clean and renewable energy sector, while repealing tax breaks for the large oil companies. The bill, called the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, was introduced March 19 by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). It would prevent the big oil companies from claiming the domestic production deduction as well as end deductions for drilling and development costs.

Meanwhile, today through Wednesday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments about the Obama administration’s health care overhaul law.

Several key USDA reports are released Friday, including Grain Stocks, Prospective Plantings, and Quarterly Hogs & Pigs.

Congressional committee action will focus on renewable energy tax incentives, gasoline prices, the health care law, environmental protection, and monetary policy issues.

Monday, March 26

Supreme Court: The US Supreme Court begins to hear six hours of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the health-care reform law.

Obama in South Korea: President Barack Obama attends a nuclear security summit in Seoul. He will meet on the sidelines with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

NABE conference: National Association for Business Economics (NABE) holds its 2012 Economic Policy Conference titled "From Crisis Management to Long-Term Renewal." Speakers include Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Europe: Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, addresses bankers in Berlin about the European debt crisis; Olli Rehn, the European Union’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner, is to speak about the outlook for the European economy.

Farm bill assessment and outlook: Environmental and Energy Study Institute briefing titled "Conservation, Energy Security and Jobs with Biomass Crops? A Question for the Next Farm Bill."

Agricultural innovation and policy outlook: Americans for Choice and Competition in Agriculture briefing titled "Feeding the World and Growing Our Economy: Agricultural Innovation in the 21st Century." Speaker include: Roger Beachy, founding president, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; Brandon Hunnicutt, chairman, Nebraska Corn Growers Association; Gregory Conko, senior fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute; Chandler Goule, vice president of government relations, National Farmers Union.

Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Pending Home Sales Index.

USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Monthly Milk Cost of Production (ERS) | Poultry Slaughter (NASS) | Price Reactions After USDA Livestock Reports (NASS).

Tuesday, March 27

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