The Week Ahead: March 12-18, 2012

March 11, 2012 09:49 PM
 

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Senate in, House out | Transportation bill | Farm bill hearing | CBO updated baseline projections


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


The Senate plans to complete its work on the surface transportation bill while the House is in recess until March 19. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is pushing an amendment (SA 1812) on the transportation bill that would, among other things, extend the lapsed biodiesel incentive program through Dec. 2012, which would need 60 votes for passage. To read the amendment language, click here.

Other topics: Besides the transportation bill, the agenda for the Senate includes hearings on the new farm bill, US-Russia trade, and the housing market.

The Senate will likely finish work on its version of the two year, $109 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill (S 1813), with several amendments to be voted on, and a vote on final passage expected before week's end. The Senate last week reached an agreement on a list of amendments to be considered. Eleven amendments remain to be voted on, all but one requiring 60 votes to pass. The amendments include tax-related issues, such as energy tax extenders that have either expired or are set to expire. Lawmakers previously rejected five amendments, including two relating to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Senate transportation bill is expected to be paid for by gas tax revenues deposited into the Highway Trust Fund and a continuing general fund transfer to support transit programs. The remaining amount would be paid for with smaller tax and non-tax measures.

The House when it returns for work the week of March 19 will consider either the Senate bill or "something like it," according to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) GOP member differences have been a major focus in the House bill (HR 7).

A Senate Ag Committee hearing on the new farm bill takes place Wednesday, with the key topic being risk management. Commodity group officials met Friday behind closed doors with Senate Ag Committee staff to go over their likely testimony.

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release its updated baseline projections of federal spending, revenues, and budget deficits for the 2012–2022 period. These will be used to score various legislative proposals, including the new farm bill debate. CBO’s analysis of President Obama's budgetary proposals will be released in a separate report a few days later.

On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and its implications for the US. The committee also will examine repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment and establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia.

Also on the trade policy front, the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) takes effect on Thursday. The US Chamber of Commerce holds reception for US Trade Rep Ron Kirk and Choi Young-jin, South Korea's new US ambassador.

The Senate Energy and Resources Committee will hold a Thursday hearing on nominations. Nominees to be considered include Adam Sieminski to be administrator of the Energy Information Administration, Marcilynn Burke to be an assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior, and Anthony Clark and John Robert Norris both to be members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Energy loan guarantees under focus. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a Tuesday hearing to examine an independent consultant's report reviewing the Department of Energy's loan and loan guarantee portfolio. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is scheduled to testify.

The Department of the Interior's onshore and offshore energy development programs are on the agenda for a Wednesday morning Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.


Key reports and top events on tap this week include:

Monday, March 12
Euro zone members meet:
Euro zone finance ministers will likely decide on a €130 billion bailout for Greece, after getting indications from the International Monetary Fund about its participation plans.
Japan:
Bank of Japan interest rate decision.
Impact of federal regulations in western US:
Subcommittee field hearing. House Natural Resources — Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. In Elko, Nev.
Water challenges:
The World Water Forum in Marseilles assembles representatives from 180 countries to discuss the environmental and technical challenges of providing sustainable water supplies and sanitation for all (until March 17).
Energy: The International Energy Forum, the grouping of leading energy producing and consuming states, holds a three-day meeting in Kuwait City.

Economic reports:
Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Treasury Budget.
USDA reports:
Export inspections (AMS) | Livestock and Meat Trade Data (ERS) | Price Reactions after USDA Crop Reports (NASS) | US Agricultural Trade Data Update (ERS) | Rice Outlook (ERS) | Oil Crops Outlook (ERS) | Cotton and Wool Outlook (ERS).

Tuesday, March 13
British PM Cameron visits White House: David Cameron, in Washington for two days, visits President Obama. The two will go to Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday for an NCAA Tournament men's basketball game.
CBO updated baseline projections: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release its updated baseline projections of federal spending, revenues, and budget deficits for the 2012–2022 period. These will be used to score various legislative proposals, including the new farm bill debate. CBO’s analysis of President Obama's budgetary proposals will be released in a separate report a few days later.
Japan: Final day of Bank of Japan (BOJ) monetary policy meeting. The BOJ is expected to extend its special-loan program.
Helsinki conference, Future of Europe: Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and former President of the ECB Jean-claude Trichet speak at seminar at the future of Europe.
Paris: French Finance Minister Francois Baroin and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble participate in a conference on "How to Exit the Crisis and Restore Growth?"
GOP presidential nominee primaries: GOP nominating contests are held in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii.
Trade Policy: Commerce Undersecretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez speaks on "The Changing Landscape of US Trade," including the national Export Initiative and recent US trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
Ukraine agribusiness conference: Fourth International Forum, Agribusiness in Ukraine (In Kiev, to March 15).
Global grain Asia conference: Global Grain Asia conference in Singapore (to March 15).
DOE loan guarantee program: Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing titled "Report of the Independent Consultant's Review With Respect to the Department of Energy Loan and Loan Guarantee Portfolio." Witnesses: Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Herbert Allison Jr., study author and former assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial stability. Energy reports: Weekly National Petroleum Report (API).
Economic reports: NFIB Small Business Optimism Index | ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | Retail Sales | Business Inventories | FOMC meeting announcement.
USDA reports: Wheat Outlook (ERS) | Feed Outlook (ERS) | Aquaculture Data (ERS).

Wednesday, March 14
Federal Reserve:
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at the 2012 Independent Community Bankers of America convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Cameron-Obama meeting:
British PM David Cameron and President Obama hold a series of meetings about the Anglo-US relationship, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, democratic efforts in the Middle East and North Africa, and upcoming G8 and NATO summits.
Japan:
BOJ publishes monthly report.
Farm bill:
Committee hearing. Senate Ag Committee hearing titled "Risk Management and Commodities in the 2012 Farm Bill: Evaluating the need for and cost effectiveness of risk management tools available to farmers who continue to face increasingly volatile crop prices, input costs and the threat of natural disasters, and how the federal government can provide appropriate risk-management tools while making the best use of limited resources. Witnesses: Panel: Michael Scuse, acting undersecretary of Agriculture, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; Panel: Steve Rutledge, chairman, president, and CEO, Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, West Des Moines, Iowa; Ruth Gerdes, farmer and crop insurance agent, Auburn, Neb.; Jarvis Garetson, farmer, Copeland, Kan.; Hope Hills, grower, Bangor, Mich.; Panel: Chuck Coley, chairman, National Cotton Council, Vienna, Ga.; Travis Henry Satterfield, partner, Satterfield Farms, Bolivar County, Miss.; Jimbo Grissom, president, Western Peanut Growers Association, Seminole, Texas; Erik Younggren, president, National Association of Wheat Growers, Hallock, Minn.; Pam Johnson, first vice president, National Corn Growers Association, Floyd, Iowa; Steve Wellman, president, American Soybean Association, Syracuse, Neb.; Panel: Ryan Best, president, Future Farmers of America, Portales, N.M.; Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation; Roger Johnson, president, National Farmers Union.
Onshore and offshore energy development:
Subcommittee hearing. Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related agencies hearing on the Department of the Interior's onshore and offshore energy development programs.
Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA) | IEA Oil Market Report.
Economic reports: Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | MBA Purchase Applications | Import and Export Prices.
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook (ERS).

Thursday, March 15
US-South Korea FTA: US-South Korea trade deal to take effect. US Chamber of Commerce holds reception for US Trade Rep Ron Kirk and Choi Young-jin, South Korea's new US ambassador.
Federal Reserve: The Fed is expected to begin releasing results of stress tests on big banks.
G20:
G20 Sherpas meeting (to March 16) in Mexico City.
Fiscal 2013 appropriations - Transportation and HUD:
Subcommittee hearing. Senate Appropriations — Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. Witness: Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Trade with Russia:
Committee hearing. Senate Finance Committee hearing on proposals that would repeal the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia.
Strengthening housing market: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs — Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development.
Japan's nuclear disaster: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing will examine lessons from the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Transportation: Weekly Traffic of Major Railroads (Assn. Of American Railroads).
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept.) | Producer Price Index | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ICI weekly money market mutual fund data | Empire State Mfg Survey | Treasury International Capital | Phila. Fed Survey.
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Grain Transportation Report (AMS) | Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook (ERS) | Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts-Preliminary (NASS) | Turkey Hatchery (NASS).

Friday, March 16
Economic reports: Consumer Price Index | Industrial Production | Consumer Sentiment.
USDA reports: Dairy Products Prices (NASS) | Meat Price Spreads (ERS) | Peanut Prices (NASS).

Sunday, March 18
Germany to elect president:
Joachim Gauck is expected to be elected as Germany’s president by a specially convened federal assembly. The poll follows the resignation of Christian Wulff.


 

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


 


 

 

 

 

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