The Week Ahead: Oct. 24-30, 2011

October 24, 2011 01:52 AM
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

House in, Senate out | Super Committee | Farm dust regs | China hearing

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

House members return, but the Senate is on a one-week recess. The Senate will return the week of Oct. 31 to resume debate and vote on the “minibus” appropriations bill that includes funding for Agriculture/FDA, the departments of Commerce and Justice and science programs, and the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. A vote on passage of the funding bill is expected on Nov. 1 – the same date Agriculture panel leaders said they would reveal more language relative to new farm bill proposals.

CR expires Nov. 18. The latest short-term resolution funding the government since the new fiscal year began Oct. 1 expires Nov. 18.

Focus this week will be on the Super Committee, as the 12-member panel tries to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in debt reduction. The panel will meet on Wednesday for only their third public hearing. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf is the key witness. He already told the panel that his budget analysts need something on paper by Halloween to assess the panel’s deficit-cutting ideas by the Nov. 23 deadline for Congress to report a bill for consideration by Dec. 23.

China hearing. Another focus this week is a House Ways and Means hearing Wednesday on U.S.-China economic and trade issues.

House floor action. The House will consider a bill (HR 674) which would repeal a law that requires federal, state, and local governments to withhold 3 percent from payments for goods and services. House leaders also plan to consider legislation (HR 2576) that would modify the definition of income for determining eligibility for health insurance exchange subsidies, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

The House also will consider legislation dealing with European Union emissions.The legislation (HR 2594) would prohibit operators of U.S. civil aircraft from participating in the European Union emissions schemes. Under EU law, major emitters of greenhouse gases — including airplanes — must register carbon emissions and take part in the EU’s international cap-and-trade carbon-reduction program. Sources say the bill is unlikely to become law but illustrates challenges as to how U.S. companies that participate in markets that regulate carbon emissions will be able to comply with international laws.

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act (HR 1633), sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.). The bill would establish a temporary prohibition against revising any national ambient air quality standard applicable to coarse particulate matter. The bill also would limit federal regulation of nuisance dust in areas in which such dust is regulated under state, tribal, or local law. EPA regulates emissions of particulate matter such as heavy soot, and farm-state Republicans say the rule could be expanded to include regulating dust from farms. EPA officials, including remarks last week, insist that it does not and will not regulate farm dust. Senate Republicans dropped plans to push a similar bill, saying they are persuaded by the EPA’s promise that it will not affect farms. But Noem said she will press ahead.

Looking ahead, the Senate will decide on whether to take up a $50 billion infrastructure bill outlined last week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The measure would provide $50 billion for immediate spending on the nation’s transportation network and another $10 billion to form an infrastructure bank to lure more private-sector investment into infrastructure maintenance. Senate Republicans and a few Democrats will likely filibuster it. The the bill includes a controversial 0.7 percent surtax on people whose annual incomes are more than $1 million to pay for the investment. The most recent extension of the highway funding program expires on March 31. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will meet next month to try to move a two-year surface-transportation bill, but it is unclear whether House Republicans will accept it. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) is pushing a six-year bill, but that time frame would require budget cuts that many lawmakers will not likely confront.

This week's Washington-related agenda: The agenda for congressional committees features hearings on the U.S.-China economic/trade situation, analyzing new federal regulations, ambient air regulations, and farm dust regulations.

Monday, Oct. 24
House returns but Senate is on one-week recess.
Vilsack on farm policy:
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will talk about the Obama administration's farm bill priorities in remarks at the Deere and Co. factory in Ankeny, Iowa.
Economic reports:
Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve).
USDA reports:
Export inspections (AMS) | Crop Progress (NASS).

Tuesday, Oct. 25
U.S.-China economic relations: Committee hearing. House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the U.S.-China economic relationship, focusing on trade practices and non-tariff barriers that hinder U.S. companies from competing in the domestic Chinese market.
Farm dust regulation prevention act: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing on HR 1663. Witnesses include Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for air and radiation, EPA.
Implications of European debt crisis: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — International Monetary Policy and Trade Panel.
Energy reports: Weekly National Petroleum Report (API).
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | S&P Case-Shiller HPI | Consumer Confidence | State Street Investor Confidence Index.
USDA reports: Poultry Slaughter (NASS) | Cotton Ginnings (NASS).

Wednesday, Oct. 26
Job creation, small business capital formation:
Committee markup. House Financial Services Committee will mark up pending legislation relating to job creation and reduction of regulatory burdens on small business capital formation.
Consequences of defense sequestration:
Committee hearing. House Armed Services Committee.
Economic importance of seaports to trade: Subcommittee hearing. House Transportation and Infrastructure — Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
U.S.-Korea alliance:
Subcommittee hearing. House Foreign Affairs — Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Energy reports:
Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | Durable Goods Orders | New Home Sales.
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | Monthly Milk Cost of Production (ERS).

Thursday, Oct. 27
Impact of IRS regulations on financial institutions: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.
Review of America's nuclear future: Subcommittee joint hearing. House Science, Space and Technology — Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight and Energy and Environment Subcommittee.
EPA clear air rules: Committee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Implications of European debt crisis: Subcommittee hearing. House Foreign Affairs — Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia.
Transportation: Weekly Traffic of Major Railroads (Assn. Of American Railroads).
Energy reports: Weekly U.S. underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
Economic reports: GDP | Jobless Claims (Labor Dept.) | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ICI weekly money market mutual fund data | Pending Home Sales Index.
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Grain Transportation Report (AMS) | Vegetables and Melons Outlook (ERS).

Friday, Oct. 28
Economic reports: Personal Income and Outlays | Consumer Sentiment | Employment Cost Index.
USDA reports: Dairy Products Prices (NASS) | Rice Stocks (NASS) | Peanut Prices (NASS) | Peanut Stocks and Processing (NASS) | Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook Tables (ERS).

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






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