The Week Ahead: Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, 2012

January 30, 2012 03:32 AM
 
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Budget | Economic outlook | Surface transportation | Tax extenders | Energy | Family farms | CBO estimates

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


Key agenda items in Washington this week include hearings on the U.S. economic and global outlook (Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies Thurs.), the release Tuesday of new Congressional Budget Office estimates, several energy-related hearings, another hearing on the MF Global situation, markups of surface transportation legislation and Friday's release of the Employment report.

House members will consider budget reform bills and legislation that would repeal a provision of the Obama health care reform law.

The Senate will focus on legislation to end insider trading by staffers and members of Congress.

A conference committee meeting is slated on extending the payroll tax holiday (HR 3630). The tax cut is set to expire Feb. 29, and members are currently working on legislation for a one-year extension of the tax break.

The House is not in session today, but returns to Capitol Hill Tuesday for legislative business.

The House is expected to consider two budget reform bills during sessions on Feb. 2 and 3. Members will debate the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act (HR 3582), which would require a macroeconomic analysis on the impact of major legislation, including the potential effect on jobs and gross domestic product growth. The legislation was approved by the House Budget Committee Jan. 24. The House will then consider a bill which would change the budget baseline — the budget benchmark by which proposed changes in law are measured — to eliminate the annual inflation increases assumed in discretionary spending, and instead have the baseline reflect current-year spending levels.

Senate to focus on insider trading rule. The Senate convenes this afternoon to continue consideration of the motion to proceed to the STOCK Act (S 2038), which seeks to end insider trading by both staff and members of Congress, whose privileged access to information could be exploited in investments. President Obama during his State of the Union address urged Congress to put a stop to members' trading on nonpublic information, and urged Congress to send him a bill to stop the practice. The bill would amend the 1934 Securities Exchange Act, a broad anti-fraud measure under which insider trading is prosecuted, to make clear that members of Congress and their staffs are covered by the act — which aides familiar with the bill argue is already the case. The legislation also would amend the Commodities Exchange Act to do the same.

Tax extenders: The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday morning will hold a hearing on possible long-term solutions to the problem of extenders and tax reform.

The tax treatment of the US maritime industry will be the focus of two House Ways & Means subcommittees during a Wednesday hearing. The Subcommittee on Oversight and the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures are scheduled to examine harbor maintenance funding and the tax treatment of foreign shipping operations.

Regarding economic and budget outlook issues, the House Budget Committee will meet Wednesday to examine the Congressional Budget Office's budget and economic outlook. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf is scheduled to testify. The Senate Budget Committee will also hear from Elmendorf Thursday during a hearing to examine the economic and budget outlook over the next decade.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will appear Thursday morning before the House Budget Committee when it again examines the state of the US economy and the outlook and the federal budget.

The future of the euro zone is the topic of a Wed. morning Senate Budget Committee hearing.

Surface Transportation markups. Two Senate committees this week hope to complete a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation package. Most of the proposal has already cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The Finance Committee is scheduled to vote this week on the funding mechanism that will bridge the $12 billion shortfall in that bill. The Banking Committee also will vote on a portion of the legislation that deals with mass transit.

Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said the Senate package is the only one with the chance of clearing before the March 31 deadline, when the temporary extension expires.

Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is slated to consider its own measure on Thursday. Staffers say the text will be available on Tuesday. It is expected to span at least five years and cost roughly $260 billion, not quite on par with current spending levels. It will be combined with a controversial proposal coming out of House Natural Resources to expand domestic drilling. Democrats and transportation lobbyists are dubious about this approach, saying it will only lead to political bickering.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to begin marking up a massive surface transportation bill during the week. Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) will release and introduce the bill early in the week. The full committee markup of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act is set to begin Wed. morning.

The House Natural Resources Committee will meet Wed. morning to mark up the energy portion of a transportation and energy infrastructure bill. The committee will consider the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.

The Senate Banking Committee will meet Thursday to consider the public transportation portion of a two-year surface transportation bill. According to a joint statement by Senate Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the bill focuses on investments in the nation's aging transit infrastructure and improved public transportation through much needed reforms such as improving safety oversight, eliminating earmarks, as well as speeding the construction of public transportation projects.

Financial regulation. Richard Cordray, head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday morning. The hearing will focus on the accountability of the CFPB and a review of its first semiannual report.

The collapse of MF Global will again be the focus of a hearing, this time before a House Financial Services panel on Thursday.

Energy-related hearings. The House Science Subcommittee on Energy will hold a Wed. morning hearing to examine the Environmental Protection Agency's approach to groundwater research in Pavillion, Wyo. The House Science Subcommittee on Energy will meet again Thurs. morning regarding a hearing on fostering quality science at the EPA. Meanwhile, the Senate Energy Committee will meet Tues. m to hear from energy experts on the US and global energy outlook for 2012. Nuclear energy will be the topic at a Wed. morning House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing to examine the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. The Senate Energy Committee will have its turn Thursday to examine the Blue Ribbon Commission nuclear report.

Future of family farms. The House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture will meet Thurs. morning to hold a hearing on the future of family farms, and the effect of proposed Department of Labor regulations on small producers.

Key reports and events this week include:

Monday, Jan. 30
President Barack Obama meets Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili; and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet ahead of a confab in Brussels.
APEC officials gather: The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) holds a meeting of first senior officials in Moscow.
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Personal Income and Outlays.
USDA reports:
Export inspections (AMS) | Monthly Milk Cost of Production (ERS).

Tuesday, Jan. 31

Florida Republicans select their nominee for the presidency
– a late poll put Mitt Romney ahead of Newt Gingrich by 11 percentage points.
Extenders and tax overhaul:
Committee hearing. Senate Finance Committee hearing will focus on efforts to find a long-term solution for the tax provisions that require frequent renewal, commonly called "tax extenders."
Consumer Bureau oversight:
Committee hearing. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
US and global energy outlook:
Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook release:
News conference/briefing. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) press briefing following the release of the Budget and Economic Outlook.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | Employment Cost Index | S&P Case-Shiller HPI | Chicago PMI | Consumer Confidence.
USDA reports: Egg Products (NASS) Agricultural Prices (NASS).

Wednesday, Feb. 1
Federal Reserve
Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser speaks on the economic outlook, at the Main Line Chamber of Commerce.
Harbor maintenance funding and maritime tax issues:
Subcommittee joint hearing. House Ways and Means — Subcommittee on Oversight Subcommittee and Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee joint hearing on harbor maintenance funding and maritime tax issues, with a focus on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Harbor Maintenance Tax, as well as the tax treatment of foreign shipping operations.
Impact of presidential recess appointments:
Committee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Report of Commission on America's Nuclear Future:
Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.
Outlook for the euro zone:
Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee.
Budget and economic outlook:
Committee hearing. House Budget Committee. Witness: Douglas Elmendorf, director, Congressional Budget Office.
US energy production:
Committee markup. House Natural Resources Committee will mark up the energy provision in the American Energy Infrastructure and Jobs Act (HR 7).
Economic reports: Motor Vehicle Sales | ADP Employment Report | ISM Mfg Index | Construction Spending.
Energy reports:
EIA Petroleum Status Report | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Transportation:
Grain Transportation Report (AMS) | Weekly Traffic of Major Railroads (Assn. of American Railroads).
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | Dairy Products (NASS).

Thursday, Feb. 2
State of the US economy:
Committee hearing. House Budget Committee. Witness: Ben Bernanke - Federal Reserve chairman.
Surface transportation authorization:
Committee markup. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committeewill mark up legislation that would reauthorize surface transportation programs. The House Natural Resources Committee will mark up energy provisions of the bill Feb. 1. A surface transportation bill will be marked up by the Senate Banking Committee on Feb. 2.
Report of Commission on America's Nuclear Future:
Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Note: The House Energy and Commerce Committee Environment and the Economy Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the report on Feb. 1 and the House Science Committee will hold one on Feb. 8.
Budget and economic outlook:
Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee. Witness: Douglas Elmendorf, director, Congressional Budget Office. Note: The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the same topic Feb. 1.
MF Global bankruptcy:
Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Part II: How MF Global managed risk, how this risk was disclosed to investors and customers and how credit rating agencies evaluated this risk. Note: The subcommittee held an earlier hearing Dec. 15. The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the same topic Dec. 8 and the Senate Agriculture Committee held one Dec. 13.
Future of family farms:
House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture will meet Thurs. morning to hold a hearing on the future of family farms, and the effect of proposed Department of Labor regulations on small producers.
Current situation in Iran:
Committee hearing. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Economic reports: Jobless Claims | Productivity and Costs.
Energy reports: EIA Natural Gas Report |
USDA reports:
Export Sales Report (FAS).


Friday, Feb. 3
Economic reports:
Employment | Factory Orders | ISM Non-Mfg Index.
USDA reports:
Dairy Products Prices (NASS) | Peanut Prices (NASS).





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


 

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