via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
TOPICS: Gas prices | Surface transportation | Farm bill | China | Employment report | S/D report
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The Senate this week will continue work on a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill and the House works on China tariff legislation. But the key focus will likely be on surging gasoline prices, with a Wednesday hearing on the topic, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu likely being grilled on the matter during a budget hearing Thursday. A hearing also will take place Thursday to examine whether government regulations are impeding small energy producers and harming energy security.
The surface transportation bill (S 1813) will see the Senate taking a cloture vote to halt debate and the push is on to clear the way for final passage. Votes are slated for early Tuesday afternoon. The latest leadership-authored substitute bill includes 37 amendments cleared by mangers of the bill, but a big list of amendments are still a contentious matter – Republicans are insisting on votes on unrelated measures such as the Keystone XL pipeline and EPA regulations.
The House version of surface transportation legislation is in flux after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delayed efforts to move an 18-month bill amid internal GOP differences. The lingering transportation policy discord comes as a March 31 reauthorization deadline looms. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) previously indicated a two-month extension is ready to be considered before current funding expires.
The House will consider bipartisan legislation (HR 4105) dealing with countervailing duties against China. The measure would preserve the Commerce Department's ability to apply countervailing duties (CVDs) against Chinese and Vietnamese imports. The legislation followed a court decision banning the application of CVDs to merchandise from nonmarket economies. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the bill is critical to leveling the playing field for US employers and workers confronted with unfairly subsidized imports form countries like China. The White House has called for similar legislation. The bill will likely be considered Tuesday.
House members will also vote on one (HR 3606) of six bills under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, known as the JOBS Act. The first measure, the Reopening American Capital Markets to Emerging Growth Companies Act, would create a temporary “reprieve” from securities regulations for the new category of emerging growth companies that are seeking an initial public offering.
Hearings on the farm bill will also take place this week and on Wednesday, the House Ag Committee will meet to consider its "Views and Estimates" report that will be forwarded to the House Budget Committee for use in drafting the 2013 concurrent budget resolution. That could be the next signal on how much funding will have to be cut from the next farm bill's budget baseline relative to deficit reduction.
On the economic front, the biggest financial reports come Friday with another reading on the employment situation.
On the agriculture report front, Friday brings a USDA update on the supply and demand situation.
This week's Washington-related agenda: The agenda for congressional committees features hearings on Fiscal Year 2013 budget matters, tax reform, capital formation, gas prices, the new farm bill, the Federal Communications Commission, and US trade policy.
Monday, March 5
Israel: President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
China: China's National People's Congress begins with observers signaling it will likely to approve a cautious policy to ensure a soft economic landing.
Vice President Biden visits Mexico, Honduras: Vice President Joe Biden is on the second day of a three-day trip to Mexico and Honduras. He is scheduled to meet Monday with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and also hold sessions with the presidential candidates from the Party of the Democratic Revolution, the Institutional Revolutionary Party and the National Action Party.
IAEA confers on Iran: The United Nations' IAEA board discusses actions against Iran over its refusal to allow inspection of nuclear facilities. Nuclear issues in Syria and North Korea will also be discussed at a meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna (until March 9).
Energy: The annual IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference begins with a discussion featuring several key Capitol Hill staffers titled “US Energy Policy in an Election Year.”
Local and regional food systems: USDA web event to discuss "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass," a program for local and regional food systems. Speaker: Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of Agriculture. Link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/live
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Factory Orders | ISM Non-Mfg Index.
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS).
Tuesday, March 6
GOP presidential primaries: Eleven states vote for Republican presidential hopefuls on Super Tuesday.
FY 2013 appropriations - State Department and Foreign Operations, USAID: Subcommittee hearing. House Appropriations — Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing. Witness: Rajiv Shah, administrator, US Agency for International Development (USAID).