The Week Ahead: July 22-28, 2013

July 22, 2013 02:18 AM
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RFS hearing | FY 2014 spending bills | Transportation issues | Student loans

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

Debate on some Fiscal Year 2014 spending bills, work on a student loan compromise, a House subcommittee hearing on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), and a hearing on the highway trust fund are key focal points in Washington this week.

The Senate is expected to move to a funding bill (S 1243) for the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. The bill would provide $54 billion in budget authority, about $2.3 billion more than the Fiscal 2013 level of $51.7 billion. The legislation also would fulfill the roughly $40 billion obligation limit for highway programs authorized in the 2012 surface transportation law. The agreement also would allow the Senate to use the House bill number (HR 2610). The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill in late June.

The House will consider Defense Department (DOD) appropriations (HR 2397). The House Appropriations Committee approved the $512 billion DOD bill in mid-June. The measure would provide funding for critical national security programs, U.S. troops, and military operations overseas.

The House will also consider environment-related legislation (HR 2218, HR 1582), aimed at spurring economic growth and lowering energy costs. HR 2218 would give states the lead role in implementing minimum federal standards for the disposal of coal ash generated by power plants, while allowing the Environmental Protection Agency a regulatory role if needed. That bill was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee June 19. HR 1582 would require the Energy Department to analyze the economic impacts of major rules promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency. HR 1582 would prohibit EPA from issuing a final rule estimated to cost more than $1 billion, if DOE determines that the regulation would cause significant adverse effects to the economy.

Student loans. Both the Senate and the House are expected to take up compromise legislation that would lower interest rates for millions of students who have federal direct student loans.

The financial status of the Highway Trust Fund and its impact on surface transportation programs will be the topic of a Tuesday morning hearing before a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee. Transportation Undersecretary Polly Trottenberg and Kim Cawley of the Congressional Budget Office are scheduled to testify.

The Joint Economic Committee will meet Wednesday morning to discuss fixing America's crumbling infrastructure. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, co-chairman of the Building America's Future, will be among the witnesses.

A House Agriculture subcommittee on Tuesday\ morning will discuss the future of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management will hear the perspective of CFTC commissioners Scott O'Malia and Mark Wetjen. The subcommittee will continue its hearing July 24, focusing on end-user perspectives.

RFS hearing. The Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a Tuesday morning hearing on an overview of the renewable fuels standard (RFS). Energy and environmental industry witnesses, including from the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the National Corn Growers Association, will testify.

On the trade policy front, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing Wednesday morning to discuss trade issues. The panel will discuss a US-EU free trade agreement and the regulatory barriers to achieving it.

USDA nominations. In the Senate, the Ag panel will hold a hearing on the nominations of Krysta Harden as Deputy USDA Secretary and Robert Bonnie to be Undersecretary for Natural Resources.

Financial markets will have some economic data to focus on as the pre-FOMC blackout period arrives which will keep Fed officials quiet midweek forward. But the data flow is not significant even though there are a couple important updates on tap. Monday opens with the Chicago Fed index and Existing Home Sales, with Tuesday seeing release of the FHFA Home Price Index and Richmond Fed manufacturing update. Wednesday will see release of the PMI Manufacturing Index Flash along with New Home Sales. On Thursday, data releases include Durable Goods, Jobless Claims and the Kansas City fed activity index and the week wraps up with Consumer Sentiment on Friday. Any developments out of China on their economic situation could move markets but much of the attention be on earnings data in an earnings season that has been so-so on those companies who have released results so far.

For agriculture, weather will be key relative to actual weekend results and any changes to current weather forecasts. As usual, traders will focus on today's Crop Progress report relative to condition ratings for corn and soybeans. Other data releases of note for the week include the Cold Storage data on Monday and Weekly Export Sales figures on Thursday. Also out Thursday will be the food price forecast update from USDA.

Monday, July 22
Vice President Joe Biden visits India.
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Chicago Fed National Activity Index | Existing Home Sales
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Chicken & Eggs (NASS) | Catfish Feed Deliveries (NASS) | Catfish Processing (NASS) | Cold Storage (NASS) | Wheat Data (ERS) | Crop Progress (NASS)

Tuesday, July 23
Impact of sequestration on national security and the economy: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee.
Health care act employer mandate delay: Subcommittee joint hearing. House Education and the Workforce — Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.
Highway trust fund and surface transportation: Subcommittee hearing. House Transportation and Infrastructure — Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
Renewable Fuel Standard: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Stakeholder Perspectives, Day 2, July 24.
House and Senate border security proposals: Subcommittee hearing. House Homeland Security — Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.
CFTC outlook: Subcommittee hearing. House Agriculture — Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. Day 1, July 23, Commission perspectives. Day 2, July 24, end user perspectives.
USDA nominations: Committee confirmation hearing. Senate Ag Committee confirmation hearing to consider pending nominations: Krysta Harden, deputy secretary of Agriculture; Robert Bonnie to be undersecretary of Agriculture for natural resources and environment.
Immigration status of illegal immigrants brought to US as children: Subcommittee hearing. House Judiciary — Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
Energy partnerships with federal government and states: Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | FHFA House Price Index | Richmond Fed Mfg Index
USDA reports: Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB)

Wednesday, July 24
US-EU Free Trade Agreement: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
EPA investigations of hydraulic fracturing: Subcommittee joint hearing. House Science, Space and Technology — Subcommittee on Energy.
Energy Department oversight: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
US infrastructure issues: Committee hearing. Joint Economic Committee.
Regulatory efficiency: Committee hearing. House Small Business Committee.
Environment, food, water security in East Asia and the Pacific: Committee hearing. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: New Home Sales | MBA Purchase Applications | PMI Mfg Index Flash
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | National Dairy Products Sales Report (AMS)

Thursday, July 25
States' regulation of oil and gas operations: Subcommittee hearing. House Natural Resources — Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
Future of coal: Subcommittee hearing. House Science, Space and Technology — Subcommittee on Energy.
Crisis in Egypt: Committee hearing. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Aging water resource infrastructure: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources — Subcommittee on Water and Power.
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA)
Economic reports: Jobless Claims | Durable Goods Orders | KC Mfg Index
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Food Price Outlook (ERS) | Livestock Slaughter (NASS) | Citrus: World Markets & Trade (FAS)

Friday, July 26
Freight transportation in urban areas: Subcommittee field hearing. House Transportation and Infrastructure — Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation Panel field hearing in New York, N.Y.
Economic reports: Consumer Sentiment
USDA reports: Peanut Prices (NASS) | Vegetables & Pulses Outlook (ERS) Monthly Milk Cost of Production (ERS) | Fruit & Tree Nut Outlook (ERS)

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






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