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Senate farm bill debate | Bernanke on U.S. economy | Senate immigration reform bill markup
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The Senate on Monday will begin its farm bill debate, while the House considers another bill (HR 3) approving the Keystone Pipeline without the approval of President Obama. On the economic front, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday appears before the Joint Economic Committee on the outlook for the U.S. economy. At the conclusion of the week's business, both chambers will adjourn for a week-long Memorial Day recess – May 27-31. (House is out May 24.)
Farm bill focus in Senate. The Senate on Monday begins debate on a new five-year farm policy bill (S 954). Under an agreement, consideration of the bill will begin at 3 p.m. ET, after 1 hour of morning-hour speeches. Senate leaders from both parties will likely announce an agreement on the number and scope of amendments, and how many will need 60 votes for passage. Some observers indicate the farm bill will not be completed this week and will go into next week.
During the week, the Senate is expected to take up several judicial nominations, including a vote on two nominees on May 20 and another two later in the week.
In the House, lawmakers are likely to deal with several other measures under suspension of the rules, including a bill that would exempt power plants from environmental laws under certain conditions, and a measure that would establish definitions and penalties for nuclear terrorism and maritime hijacking.
The House May 22 also will consider a couple of bills under suspension of the rules, including the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act (HR 271). The bill would exempt power generating facilities from liability when Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues an emergency order to continue generating power to meet a spike in demand. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill May 15 on a voice vote.
The House on Thursday will consider a bill (HR 1911) dealing with student loan rates. The Smarter Solutions for Students Act would establish interest rates for new student loans made on or after July 1, 2013.
Regarding nominations, Anthony Foxx, President Obama's choice to be secretary of transportation, will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday afternoon on his nomination. The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday morning will consider the nomination of Penny Pritzker to be commerce secretary. The nomination of Allison Macfarlane to be a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be examined by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Thursday morning.
FSOC annual report. The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning will meet to discuss the Financial Stability Oversight Council's (FSOC) annual report to Congress. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will testify. Lew will return to the Capitol Wednesday morning to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on the FSOC report.
The future of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will be the topic of a Tuesday morning hearing before the House Agriculture Committee.
Economic relations between the U.S. and the European Union will be examined by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday morning. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard and Robert Hormats, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment are among the witnesses.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday morning will resume consideration of comprehensive immigration reform legislation (S 744). At issue is whether the Gang of Eight this week can reach a deal on high-skilled visas that will bring Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on board. Senate Judiciary wants to complete marking up the bill before next week's recess. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Reid has pledged to do all he can to pass the bill in the full Senate, which is expected to take up several weeks of floor time this summer. The panel has not yet agreed on the most controversial piece of the bill, a program to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants. That debate could linger a few days this week. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee will offer its own views on the Senate bill Wednesday in a hearing.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday morning will have a hearing on natural gas domestic supply and exports. The full committee hearing will focus on estimates of domestic supply and the potential benefits or unintended consequences caused by expansion of natural gas exports. Witnesses include Adam Sieminski, administrator of the Energy Information Administration. Other energy representatives and executives are scheduled to testify.
Members of a House Transportation and Infrastructure panel will meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the Obama administration's priorities for the Environmental Protection Agency as illustrated in the agency's Fiscal 2014 budget request.
Additional economic data will probably take a back seat to what has become the debate in financial markets: the Fed’s exit strategy. And one reading on that will come Wednesday as minutes of the April 30-May 1 FOMC meeting will be released. That’s the meeting that saw the FOMC signal they could reduce or increase their asset purchases. But even the FOMC minutes will probably be tempered some by the economic data that has come out since then, which has fueled the exit strategy debate. The other focus this week will be on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when he testifies on the US economy before the Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday. That appearance could also take some focus off the FOMC minutes since it will be a more up-to-date look at the situation. Other economic data on tap include the Chicago Fed index Monday, Existing Home Sales on Wednesday, with Thursday bringing the weekly Jobless Claims update, PMI manufacturing flash data, the FHFA home price index and New Home Sales. Wrapping up the week will be Durable Goods orders on Friday, giving the market plenty to chew on ahead of a long holiday weekend due to the May 27 Memorial Day Holiday. The value of the US dollar will also be a watch point as the greenback has risen and affected a host of other markets. Of course some of the dollar’s run is linked to the whole discussion of the Fed’s exit strategy.
For agriculture, Monday’s Crop Progress report will again be important as there are some hefty expectations after farmers in a lot of areas of the Corn Belt experienced some wide-open planting weather and moved quickly to get corn in the ground. Once that data is in, the focus will likely shift to what are forecast to be planting-interrupting rains over this weekend and next week. Demand news gets attention for Thursday via the Weekly Export Sales data. Livestock markets will be handicapping Memorial Day meat demand ahead of what is traditionally seen as the opening weekend of grilling season. Cold Storage figures come out on Wednesday, offering traders with another demand update for meat. Beyond these factors, the US dollar and outside markets remain potential factors any day of the trading week ahead, with action in futures likely to dwindle as the holiday weekend approaches. Lean hog traders may also be waiting to see if there are any more developments on the PED virus being found in the Iowa hog herd.
This week's Washington-related agenda: The agenda for congressional committees features hearings on several panels looking into the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups for additional scrutiny. Other hearing topics include offshore tax shelters, health care issues, more President Obama Cabinet nominations, financial and economic issues, and immigration reform.
Monday, May 20
Markets closed in Canada, Austria, and Switzerland, among others.
President Barack Obama meets with Myanmar's president in Washington.
Federal Reserve: Regional Fed presidents Charles Evans and John C. Williams speak about the economy in different speeches and locations.
Profit shifting to avoid US taxes: Subcommittee news conference/briefing and hearing. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations news conference in of its hearing titled "Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code- Part 2."
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve)
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Catfish Processing (NASS) | Milk Production (NASS) | Catfish Feed Deliveries (NASS) | Crop Progress (NASS)
Tuesday, May 21
Secretary of State John Kerry visits the Middle East for talks with leaders of Israel and Palestinian territories.
Federal Reserve: Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher discusses Fed operations and gives an update on the US and Texas economy. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher discusses Fed operations and gives an update on the US and Texas economy.
Profit shifting to avoid US taxes, continued: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations hearing. Part 2.
Economic issues in Arab region: Committee hearing. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Maritime transportation: Subcommittee hearing. House Transportation and Infrastructure — Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing titled "Maritime Transportation: The Role of U.S. Ships and Mariners."
Financial Stability Oversight Council annual report: Committee hearing. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Witness: Jacob Lew - secretary of the Treasury.
Future of CFTC: Committee hearing. House Agriculture Committee. Witnesses: Terrence A. Duffy, executive chairman and president, CME Group Inc, Chicago, Ill.; Jeffrey C. Sprecher, chairman and CEO, IntercontinentalExchange Inc., Atlanta, Ga.; Daniel J. Roth, president and CEO, National Futures Association, Chicago, Ill.; Walter L. Lukken, president and CEO, Futures Industry Association, District of Columbia; Stephen O'Connor, chairman, International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc., N.Y.; Wililam Dunaway, chief financial officer, INTL FCStone Inc., Kansas City, Mo.
Natural gas issues: Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Witness: Adam Sieminski, administrator, Energy Information Administration, among others.
Visa security and overstays: Subcommittee hearing. House Homeland Security — Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.
OMB nomination: Committee confirmation hearing. Senate Budget Committee hearing on the nomination of Brian C. Deese, of Massachusetts, to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Energy reports: Weekly National Petroleum Report (API).
Fiscal 2014 appropriations - 302(b) allocations: Committee markup. House Appropriations Committee will consider a report on the revised suballocations of budget allocations for Fiscal 2014.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales
USDA reports: Farm Labor (NASS) | Chickens and Eggs (NASS) | Wheat Data (ERS) | Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB)
Wednesday, May 22
The Bank of Japan issues its interest-rate decision; BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda speaks to reporters.
Federal Reserve: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard lectures on the "US Economy and Monetary Policy" at a university in Frankfurt.
Judicial and OMB nominations: Committee markup. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on pending nominations, including Brian C. Deese to be deputy director, Office of Management and Budget.
Secretary of Transportation nomination: Committee confirmation hearing. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on the nomination of Anthony R. Foxx to be secretary of Transportation.
IRS Tax-Exempt Investigation: Committee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing "The IRS [Internal Revenue Service]: Targeting Americans for Their Political Beliefs." Witnesses:
Neal S. Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury; J. Russell George, inspector general for tax administration, Department of the Treasury; Lois Lerner, director of Exempt Organizations, IRS.
Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2013: Committee hearing. Senate Finance Committeehearing on S 662, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2013.
Financial Stability Oversight Council annual report: Committee hearing. House Financial Services Committee. Witness: Jacob Lew - secretary of the Treasury.
Economic outlook: Committee hearing. Joint Economic Committee. Witness: Ben Bernanke - Federal Reserve chairman.
Public health and food safety in China: Committee hearing. US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
DOJ and 'too big to jail' financial institutions: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Immigration Modernization Act: Committee hearing. House Judiciary Committee on S 744.
Tax overhaul: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee.
Nutrient trading and water quality: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Environment and Public Works — Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife.
Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: ICI weekly money market mutual fund data | MBA Purchase Applications | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | Existing Home Sales | FOMC Minutes
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | National Dairy Products Sales Report (AMS) | Announcement of Advanced Prices and Pricing Factors (AMS) | Cold Storage (NASS)
Thursday, May 23
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi participates in "The Future of Europe in the Global Economy," organized by London's lord mayor.
Secretary of Commerce nomination: Committee confirmation hearing. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on the nomination of Penny Pritzker to be secretary of Commerce.
Capital markets and GSE bills: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises hearing on "Legislative Proposals to Relieve the Red Tape Burden on Investors and Job Creators."
Entitlement programs overhaul: Subcommittee hearing. House Ways and Means — Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a series of hearings on the administration's and other entitlement overhaul proposals.
Weather forecasting: Subcommittee hearing. House Science, Space and Technology — Subcommittee on Environment hearing titled "Restoring US Leadership in Weather Forecasting."
Federal health care in Rural America: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — Subcommittee on Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce.
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
US-EU economic relations: Committee hearing. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
2014 Appropriations - Agriculture, Rural, FDA: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee. Witnesses: Darci Vetter, acting undersecretary of Agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services; Ann Mills, acting undersecretary of Agriculture for natural resources and environment; Doug O'Brien, acting undersecretary of Agriculture for rural development; Michael Young, budget officer, Department of Agriculture.
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept) | PMI Mfg Index Flash | New Home Sales | KC Mfg Index | FHFA House Price Index
Transportation: Grain Transportation Report (AMS).
USDA reports: US Export Sales (FAS) | Livestock Slaughter (NASS) | Poultry Slaughter (NASS) | Sugar: World Markets and Trade (FAS)
Friday, May 24
Bond markets close early in advance of Memorial Day weekend.
Congress: House not in session. After close of business Senate begins Memorial Day recess – May 27-31.
Economic reports: Durable Goods Orders
USDA reports: Peanut Prices (NASS)
NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.