Washington Week Ahead: In search of Jon Corzine's answers on MF Global

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 - If there is one thing that some Democrats and Republicans can both agree, it's that they'd like to see Jon Corzine, a former U.S. senator from New Jersey and governor of that state, explain what happened with billions of dollars lost in the collapse of MF Global Holdings Ltd., the eighth largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Thousands of investors, farmers, ranchers and small businesses are still trying to obtain access to hundreds of millions of dollars that had been held by the firm.  


“It is the committee's responsibility to shed light on the facts and circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy,” said Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). “The bottom line is that this Committee has a responsibility to get to the facts.” The House Committee on Agriculture voted by unanimous voice vote Friday to subpoena former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine to testify on his role in the firm's collapse.


Corzine did not respond to an informal request to testify at the Agriculture Committee hearing on Dec. 8 and Corzine's attorney had told the Committee that the former CEO would not be available. Lucas said if Corzine announces he is willing to testify, the Agriculture Committee would be flexible. However, the subpoena is necessary since “it's difficult to gauge whether it's a legitimate conflict or a delaying tactic,” he said. 


Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Stabenow has also requested Mr. Corzine and other MF Global executives appear at a December 13th hearing and she is seeking investigative power to compel him to appear if necessary. According to Stabenow, a vote of the full committee is required to make the current inquiry a formal committee investigation in order to give the committee subpoena power and she plans to convene a meeting of the Agriculture Committee to vote on the matter on Tuesday, December 6th.

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Her former colleague is a longtime leader of the Democratic Party who served as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2004.


Despite the bipartisan pursuit of answers on MF Global, there are plenty of other politically polarizing issues that could fill up the rest of the month, including the remaining 2012 spending bills, a payroll tax cut extension and potential extension of unemployment benefits. 

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said Sunday that Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to introduce "compromise" legislation to extend the payroll tax holiday. Unless lawmakers act, legislation that lowered the employee portion of the Social Security payroll tax to 4.2 percent for 2011 from 6.2 percent will expire Dec. 31.


"Majority Leader Reid called me yesterday and said he will propose tomorrow a compromise plan to extend the payroll tax cut," Sen Kent Conrad, D-ND, said on Fox News Sunday.


But Sen. Tom Coburn, appearing on the same show, said there is still no agreement on how to pay for the benefits. “Nobody is making hard choices now,” he explained. “What they are doing is promising a benefit and no pain now. It always comes later.”

For more on this week's schedule:


On Monday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. No votes are expected in the House. Any requested recorded votes will be postponed until Tuesday. Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.R. 2351 - North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking Act (Sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 944 - To eliminate an unused lighthouse reservation, provide management consistency by incorporating the rocks and small islands along the coast of Orange County, California, into the California Coastal National Monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and meet the original Congressional intent of preserving Orange County's rocks and small islands, and for other purpose (Sponsored by Rep. John Campbell / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 2360 - POWER Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Landry / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 643 - Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District Land Exchange Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 1560 - To amend the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama and Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act to allow the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe to determine blood quantum requirement for membership in that tribe (Sponsored by Rep. Silvestre Reyes / Natural Resources Committee)

6) S.683 - Box Elder Utah Land Conveyance Act (Sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee / Natural Resources Committee)

S. 535 - Fort Pulaski National Monument Lease Authorization Act (Sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson / Natural Resources Committee)

S.Con.Res. 32 - A concurrent resolution to authorize the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make technical corrections in the enrollment of H.R. 470, an Act to further allocate and expand the availability of hydroelectric power generated at Hoover Dam, and for other purpose (Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman / Natural Resources Committee)


The U.S. Senate is expected to be in session Tuesday through Thursday.

For other hearings and events this week.


Monday, December 5


Deputy Secretary Merrigan will participate in the opening panel of the Virginia Food Security Summit in Charlottesville, VA.

Tuesday, December 6


TBA: Senate Agriculture Committee meeting to vote on whether or not to make the inquiry into MF Global a formal investigation in order to give the committee subpoena power and compel former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine and other MF Global executives to appear before the Agriculture Committee at a hearing on December 13th, if they will not do so voluntarily.


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Financial Services, Full Committee Hearing: H.R. 1148, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act.  2128 Rayburn HOB


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Natural Resources, Full Committee Hearing: The Endangered Species Act: How Litigation is Costing Jobs and Impeding True Recovery Efforts. 1324 Longworth HOB


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Ways and Means, Full Committee Hearing: Joint Hearing on Tax Treatment of Financial Products. HVC-21 Capitol


10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will meet in open session to conduct a hearing entitled “Continued Oversight of the Implementation of the Wall Street Reform Act”. 538 Dirksen Senate Office Building


5:00 p.m. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) lights the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree  on the west lawn of the Capitol.


Wednesday, December 7


Secretary Vilsack will keynote the Intertribal Agricultural Council meeting in Las Vegas, NV.  He will then hold a White House Business Council meeting and a press event on the American Jobs Act in Las Vegas, NV.


Deputy Secretary Merrigan will deliver the keynote address at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Expo in Grand Rapids, MI


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Hearing: Energy Critical Elements. 2318 Rayburn HOB


1:00 p.m., House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Hearing: Visa Waiver Program Oversight: Risks and Benefits of the Program. 2141 Rayburn HOB


2:00 p.m., Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protections will meet in open session to conduct a hearing entitled “Enhanced Supervision: A New Regime for Regulating Large, Complex Financial Institutions.”


2:30 p.m., Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairts, Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs, Joint Hearing: From Earthquakes to Terrorist Attacks: Is the National Capital Region Prepared for the Next Disaster?

Dirksen Senate Office Building, room SD-342


USDA Reports: Broiler Hatchery


Thursday, December 8


Secretary Vilsack will hold a White House Business Council meeting and press event on the American Jobs Act in Albuquerque, NM.


9:30 a.m., House Committee on Agriculture, full committee hearing on the Examination of the MF Global bankruptcy. 1300 Longworth House Office Building.


2:30 p.m., Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power, Hearing to hear testimony on opportunities and challenges to address domestic and global water supply issues, SD-366.


USDA Reports: U.S. Export Sales, Apples, Grapes and Pears: World Markets and Trade


Friday, December 9


USDA Reports: Crop Production, Cotton Ginnings, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Dairy Products Prices, Cotton: World Markets and Trade, Grains: World Markets and Trade, Oilseed: World Markets and Trade, World Agricultural Production, Peanut Prices, Season-Average Price Forecasts, Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data




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