The Week Ahead: Sept. 19-25, 2011

September 19, 2011 08:23 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

FOMC | Pay-fors for jobs package | CR | Super Committee | TAA | FTAs | IMF | World Bank | EPA

Topping the Washington agenda this week is a two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting (Sep. 20-21), action on a stopgap spending bill for Fiscal Year 2012 that would run through Nov. 18, another meeting of the Super Committee, President Obama's details regarding offsets for his $447 billion jobs package (which will reportedly include a farm subsidy reduction), and Senate debate on a bill that will include an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, a development that should help advance the effort to get three long-pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to be submitted by the president for a vote.

Meanwhile, the annual fall meetings of the IMF and World Bank begin in Washington this Friday, with several related press briefings and reports throughout the week (the IMF issues its World Economic Outlook on Tuesday).

At the end of legislative business this week, both chambers are scheduled to recess until Oct. 3 – provided leaders can work out a deal on a must-have continuing resolution (CR).

The House and the Senate are expected to clear a stopgap spending measure this week to avoid a government shutdown when FY 2012 begins Oct. 1. The CR would run through Nov. 18 and would provide for a 1.5 percent across-the-board cut from FY 2011 spending to ensure the resolution lines up with the $1.043 trillion discretionary spending cap set in the debt limit law (PL 112-25). Lawmakers, who have yet to clear a single FY 2012 spending bill, would likely use the six weeks the CR runs to negotiate a final omnibus spending package, allowing lawmakers to focus on the coming proposal from the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee (aka Super Committee), which has a Nov. 23 proposal release deadline, and a Dec. 23 deadline for Congress to consider the proposal.

The House will go first with its CR (HJRes 79; Senate CR is HJRes 66), which includes $3.65 billion in disaster relief funding, including $1 billion in immediate emergency spending to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to respond to recent natural disasters across the US. The aid would be offset in part by cutting $1.5 billion from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. Democrats have balked at the offset, arguing that disaster relief in the past has not been paid for with cuts from other programs. Also, the House CR does not have enough disaster aid to the liking of Senate Democrats and some Senate Republicans – the Senate last week passed a bill granting $6.9 billion in funding to FEMA, without offsets.

Because both the House and Senate are now slated to exit after close of business this week, should the disaster aid issue not be settled, congressional leaders would likely delay or postpone next week's break in oder to resolve any impasse.

Trade policy issues will be a key focus this week as the Senate considers extension of the TAA, the first step towards consideration of pending trade agreements. The TAA extension will be attached via a move by Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to a House-passed bill (HR 2832) to extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) until August 2013. Reid has scheduled a cloture vote on the GSP bill for Monday evening. The TAA program is designed to assist workers who are negatively impacted by international trade. The White House has previously insisted that the expired TAA provisions be extended before President Obama will formerly submit pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Under a prior agreement with House leaders and the Obama administration, the Senate will take up the three FTAs in October, following expected House passage of the combined GSP-TAA bill. However, Reid said that he plans to vote against the FTAs.

Possible action on a Senate bill dealing with China's alleged currency manipulation is possible this week. Even should the Senate clear the measure, the bill faces an uncertain fate in the House, and a likely presidential veto.

House GOP leaders plan to bring up a bill that would require a cost analysis of certain environmental regulations – the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011 (HR 2401). The legislation, which the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved during a Sept. 15 business meeting, would create a panel to analyze the cost of Environmental Protection Agency rules concerning climate change and air pollution. The bill also contains provisions to delay implementation of the new cross-state air pollution rule for power plants until a cost analysis is conducted. The House bill is expected to pass easily, but will go nowhere in the Senate. Some of the language, however, could find its way into a likely omnibus spending bill and/or the Super Committee's deficit-reduction plan.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will return to Capitol Hill for another EPA oversight hearing, this time on Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is scheduled to testify before the House Small Business Committee during a Wednesday afternoon hearing on eliminating federal rules through retrospective reviews.

The Super Committee on Thursday morning will hear from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, which will examine options to reform the tax code and increase revenue.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a Wednesday morning hearing on the economic models used by the Joint Taxation Committee to analyze and score tax reform legislation.

Tax reform also is the topic of a Thursday morning joint hearing by two House Ways and Means panels, who will examine energy tax policy and tax reform. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee will continue hearings this week on tax reform via a Tuesday morning hearing on reform options, focusing on offering tax incentives for innovation.

The Senate Budget Committee will hold a Tuesday morning hearing on strategies to promote domestic job creation. Alice Rivlin, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, is scheduled to appear as a witness. Rivlin and former CBO Director Rudolph Penner will testify before the House Budget Committee during a Wednesday morning hearing on the budget process.

Another trade policy issue will be the topic of a Joint Economic Committee hearing Wednesday afternoon, on how trade policy forces jobs overseas, with a focus on domestic manufacturing.

With Europe's debt and financial crisis a daily market factor, the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance will have a Thursday afternoon hearing on how the crisis could impact the US and world economy.

Transportation. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will hold a Wednesday morning hearing on recapitalizing the nation's inland waterways transportation system, focusing on the economic importance of the system.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will mark up two pending bills regarding the workforce and agricultural visas – HR 2847 and HR 2885. HR 2847 is a bill to create a nonimmigrant H-2C work visa program for agricultural workers. It aims to address farmers' concerns by creating a program that would issue up to half a million temporary work visas. While a fewer grower groups have noted support for the measure, most agricultural organizations say it would not solve the problem. HR 2885 is a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to make mandatory and permanent requirements relating to use of an electronic employment eligibility verification system, and for other purposes. Democratic lawmakers prefer a more significant immigration reform bill to deal with the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

President Obama will be outside of Washington most of the week. On Monday he will leave for New York City, where he will spend Tuesday and Wednesday. He will address the United Nationals General Assembly and the Clinton Global Initiative. He will also hold individual sessions with the provisional leaders of Libya and the heads of Great Britain, France, Japan and Brazil. ON Thursday he will travel to Ohio to talk about his jobs plan and to call attention to a bridge in need of repair. On Sunday, the president departs on a three-day swing to western states.

Hearings and other major events on tap this week include:

Monday, Sep. 19

Japan: Markets in Japan are closed for Respect the Aged Day.
Greek debt:
Greece on the mend? is the title of an open discussion in Athens between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Greek business leaders.
Offsets for Obama's jobs plan:
President Obama issues his plan to trim the deficit and cover the cost of his proposal (S 1549). The president will deliver his deficit-reduction speech at 10:30 a.m. ET from the White House’s Rose Garden.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) holds its annual public forum at its Geneva headquarters (until September 21). Participants will discuss current trade rules, identifying areas for improvement and the scope for future rule-making.
Swap dealers:
The Securities and Exchange Commission takes up proposals under financial reform legislation related to swap dealers.
World Bank:
World Bank President Robert Zoellick holds a news conference.
Impact of regulations on energy sector:
Subcommittee field hearing, Grand Junction, Colorado. House Small Business — Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade field hearing titled Are Excessive Energy Regulations and Policies Limiting Energy Independence, Killing Jobs and Increasing Prices for Consumers?
Energy: International Energy Outlook (EIA).
Economic reports:
Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Housing Market Index.
USDA reports:
Export inspections (AMS) | Milk Production (NASS) | Crop Progress (NASS).

Tuesday, Sep. 20

Greece: Greece's Prim Minister George Papandreou speaks about the Greek debt crisis before the Peterson Institute.
Obama attends UN summit: President Obama will participate in the UN general assembly, attending meetings on the margins of the event, and will speak to the Clinton Global Initiative.
World economic outlook: The IMF issues its World Economic Outlook. Link.
Japan: Japan's new prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, outlines reconstruction plans.
The Clinton Global Initiative meets: President Obama speaks at the event.
OECD: The latest Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard is published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It presents trends in knowledge and innovation, and analyses indicators of science, technology, globalization and industrial performance in leading economies.
Job creation: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee. Witnesses include Alice Rivlin, former OMB director, now a director at Greater Washington Research, The Brookings Institution.
Tax overhaul options: Committee hearing. Senate Finance Committee is hold a series of hearings on options for overhauling the tax system.
Ideas to clear out foreclosed properties: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs — Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development.
Debt limit impact on US economy: Committee hearing. Joint Economic Committee Republicans hearing on the impact of the public debt on the US economy.
FY 2012 appropriations: Transportation; HUD: Subcommittee markup. Senate Appropriations — Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. Draft bill.
FY 2012 appropriations: Labor, HHS, Education: Subcommittee markup. Senate Appropriations — Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Draft bill.
Energy reports: Weekly National Petroleum Report (API).
Economic reports: New Home Sales. ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | Housing Starts.
USDA reports: Catfish Processing (NASS) | Catfish Feed Deliveries (NASS).

Wednesday, Sep. 21

Global stability: The IMF issues its Global Financial Stability report.
Finance ministers meet:
Finance ministers meet in Washington. The agenda includes how relationships between member states and the Group of 20 most industrialized countries can be strengthened, and aid and development.
Homeland security reauthorization:
Committee markup. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark up draft legislation (S 1546) that would reauthorize certain programs of the Department of Homeland Security.
Environment and public works bills and nomination:
Committee markup. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Nomination: Ken Kopocis to be assistant administrator for water, EPA. Panel will mark up several bills – S 97, S 893 and S 1400. S 893 is the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program Act of 2011.
ANWR, jobs, energy and deficit reduction: Committee oversight hearing. House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing titled ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge]: Jobs, Energy and Deficit Reduction.
Small business capital formation: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises.
Review of methods used to analyze tax legislation: Committee hearing. House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the economic models used by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) to analyze and score tax legislation, focusing on the tools available to the JCT that would enable it to measure the effect of proposals on economic growth and job creation as well as the effect on revenue levels.
Inland waterways transportation system: Subcommittee hearing. House Transportation and Infrastructure — Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing titled The Economic Importance and Financial Challenges of Recapitalizing the Nation's Inland Waterways Transportation System.
Budget process: Committee hearing. House Budget Committee. Perspectives from former CBO directors: Alice Rivlin, senior fellow, Brookings Institution; Rudolph Penner, institute fellow, Urban Institute.
Workforce and agricultural visa legislation: Committee markup. House Judiciary Committee will mark up pending legislation – HR 2847 and HR 2885. HR 2847 is a bill to create a nonimmigrant H-2C work visa program for agricultural workers, and for other purposes. HR 2885 is a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to make mandatory and permanent requirements relating to use of an electronic employment eligibility verification system, and for other purposes.
Regulations review: Committee hearing. House Small Business Committee hearing on oversight of President Obama's federal rules through retrospective reviews, and oversight of the president's efforts. Witness: Cass Sunstein, administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget.
China's monopoly on rare earth minerals: Subcommittee hearing. House Foreign Affairs — Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Impact of development banks on US national security: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — International Monetary Policy and Trade Panel.
How US trade policy offshores jobs: Committee hearing. Joint Economic Committee.
Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | MBA Purchase Applications | Existing Home Sales | FOMC Meeting Announcement.
USDA reports: Hop Stocks (NASS) | Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | Wheat Data (ERS) | Feed Grains Database (ERS).

Thursday, Sep. 22

Lagarde news conference: IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde holds a news conference in Washington.
BRIC countries: Finance ministers of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) meet in Washington.
Revenue options and tax code overhaul: Committee hearing. Joint Select Deficit Reduction Committee (aka Super Committee). Witness: Tom Barthold, staff, Joint Committee on Taxation.
Budget process: Committee hearing. House Budget Committee. Perspectives from former members of Congress: Former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), vice chairman, Investment Bank UBS AG; Former Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), chief operating officer, Growth Energy.
EPA oversight:
Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Witness: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Energy and tax policy issues:
Subcommittee joint hearing. Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee and Oversight Subcommittee of House Ways and Means Committee joint hearing on energy and tax policy, with a focus on establishing an energy and tax policy that addresses economic, security and environmental needs.
Economic impact of environmental regulations:
Committee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
SEC oversight: Subcommittee joint hearing:
Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of House Financial Services Committee and TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Endangered Species Act compliance:
Subcommittee hearing. House Natural Resources — Subcommittee on Water and Power hearing on pending legislation – HR 1719 and HR 2915.
European debt and financial crisis:
Subcommittee hearing. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs — Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance hearing on the European debt and financial crisis and implications for the US and global economy.
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.) | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ICI weekly money market mutual fund data | Leading Indicators.
IGC: International Grains Council report.
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Grain Transportation Report (AMS) | Potatoes (NASS) | Stone Fruit: World Markets and Trade (ERS) | Cold Storage (NASS) | Citrus Fruits (NASS) | Chickens and Eggs (NASS).

Friday, Sep. 23

IMF, World Bank meetings: The fall meetings of the World Bank and the IMF begin in Washington. Central bankers, finance ministers, private-sector executives and academics will discuss the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, development, and aid effectiveness.
Finance leaders meet: The Institute of International Finance holds its annual membership meeting in Washington (until September 25). Topics include global energy markets, the Middle East, and fiscal management in mature markets.
Japan: Markets in Japan are closed.
Risk and stability: European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet and New York Fed President William Dudley attend a Bretton Woods Committee conference on risk and stability.
Solyndra and the DOE loan guarantee program: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing. Solyndra, a startup solar panel manufacturer, which recently went into bankruptcy, was the recipient of a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company's top two executives are expected to testify. s
Gulf Coast oil spill investigation report: Committee oversight hearing. House Natural Resources Committee. The session will focus on the findings of the investigation into the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast oil spill.
Weather satellite program assessment: Subcommittee joint hearing. House Science, Space and Technology — Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.
USDA reports: Cotton Ginnings (NASS) | Livestock Slaughter (NASS) | Dairy Products Prices (NASS) | Peanut Prices (NASS) | Cattle on Feed (NASS) | Turkeys Raised (NASS).

Saturday, Sep. 24

EU: ECB executive board member Juergen Stark, who recently tendered his resignation, and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble speak at separate venues in Washington.
Role of broadband in rural economic development:
Subcommittee field hearing, Springfield, Illinois. House Agriculture — Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculturefield hearing to review the role of broadband access in rural economic development.

Sunday, Sep. 25

Water resources: The World Water Congress opens in Porto de Galinhas, near Recife, Brazil (until September 29).

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