WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 – It’s Christmas time in Washington and the city is brimming with beautiful lights, holiday parties, pledges of good cheer and a substantial “to do” list before lawmakers finally decide to call it a wrap for the year. Whether or not they’ll make it by Friday, Dec. 16, is still anyone’s guess.
Both Democrats and Republicans have pledged that they want to cut a deal before short-term funding for the federal government runs out on Dec. 16, but their efforts have been largely overshadowed by House and Senate leaders pointing fingers over a potential compromise to extend the payroll tax cut that expires at the end of this year. Add to their list of disagreements: the extension of unemployment benefits, the so called Medicare “Doc fix,” whether or not to proceed with the Keystone pipeline and a few other items.
On Monday, the House Rules Committee will consider H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, which provides a one-year extension of the temporary payroll tax relief enacted in 2010 and other provisions which will likely be rejected in the U.S. Senate. But sometime this week, most political pundits expect that a combination of some of these provisions and those advanced by President Obama will be included in a final package.
Among other things, the House measure:
· Uses a two-step process to gradually reduce the current maximum weeks of unemployment benefits from 99 to 59 weeks,
· Requires the Keystone XL permit to be granted in 60 days unless the president determines that the project, which is estimated to create thousands of jobs, but is opposed by several environmental interests, is not in the national interest.
· Extends 100 percent business expensing through 2012 to make it easier for employers, small and large, to invest now in new machinery and equipment, grow their businesses, and create jobs· Includes Rep. Morgan Griffith’s (R-VA) EPA Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2250) to stop the onerous new boiler rule and require what the GOP describes as a more sensible alternative that balances the need to protect both jobs and the environment.
· The measure includes spectrum auctions to advance wireless broadband service, bring interoperable broadband communications to public safety officials, spur billions in private investment, and create thousands of jobs – consistent with Rep. Greg Walden’s (R-OR) Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act.· Extends certain Medicare payment policies, including a two-year “doc fix” to protect Medicare physicians from large reimbursement cuts scheduled to take place next year.
In the meantime, House and Senate appropriators have been quietly working toward a compromise spending measure that would outline how government agencies should spend nearly $1 trillion through the end of this fiscal year. Details could be revealed as early as Monday.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will resume the investigation of MF Global losses on Tuesday, with former CEO and former Senator and Governor Jon Corzine at the center of the discussion. Corzine will also be the featured witness on Thursday, during a House Financial Services Committee.
For other hearings and events this week
Monday, December 12
5:00 p.m., House Committee on Rules, full committee hearing on H.R. 3630 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011. H-313 the Capitol.
USDA Reports: Livestock and Meat Trade Data, Cotton and Wool Outlook, Oil Crops Outlook, Rice Outlook, U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update
Tuesday, December 13
10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry full committee investigative hearing on the MF Global bankruptcy. 216 Hart Senate Office Building.
10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing entitled, "Our Nation’s Water Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities," 406 Dirksen.
10:00 a.m., House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Legislative Hearing on H.R. 2512 and H.R. 3479. 1324 Longworth House Office Building.
H.R. 2512 (Heck), To provide for the conveyance of certain Federal land in Clark County, Nevada, for the environmental remediation and reclamation of the Three Kids Mine Project Site, and for other purposes. "Three Kids Mine Remediation and Reclamation Act"
H.R. 3479 (Biggert), To reauthorize Federal natural hazards reduction programs, and for other purposes. "Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2011"
11:00 a.m., “Making a More Compelling Case for Public Funding of Food and Agricultural Research and Education” BIO webinar.
3:00 p.m., USEA briefing on IPAC-CO2 report regarding their independent investigation of the CO2 anomaly reported by the Kerr family near the Weyburn CO2-EOR site in Saskatchewan, Canada.
USDA Reports: Feed Outlook, Wheat Outlook, Aquaculture Data,
Wednesday, December 14
9:45 a.m., Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure “Alternative Energy Tax Incentives: The Effect of Short-Term Extensions on Alternative Technology Investment, Domestic Manufacturing, and Jobs,” in Dirksen 215.
10:00 a.m., Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Hearing: Integrated Planning and Permitting: An Opportunity for EPA to Provide Communities with Flexibility to Make Smart Investments in Water Quality. 2167 Rayburn HOB.
USDA Reports: Broiler Hatchery, Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook
Thursday, December 15
10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, full and Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety joint hearing entitled, "Review of the NRC’s Near-Term Task Force Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century,” 406 Dirksen.
10:30 a.m., Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Hearing to Consider Pending Nominations, 328A Russell Hearing Room.
10:30 a.m., Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Hearing the environmental risks of genetically engineered fish. Russell Senate Office Building 253.
10:00 a.m., Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Hearing: Ownership Rights Concerning the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, H.R. 1171 and S. 363 1324. Longworth HOB.
10:00 a.m., Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on TARP and Financial Services Hearing: What The Euro Crisis Means For Taxpayers and The U.S. Economy, Pt. I. 2154 Rayburn HOB.
USDA Reports: U.S. Export Sales, Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, Potato Stocks, Turkey Hatchery, Vegetables and Melons Outlook, Cost of Production Forecast
Friday, December 16
9:30 a.m., Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on TARP and Financial Services Hearing: What The Euro Crisis Means For Taxpayers And The U.S. Economy, Pt. II, 2154 Rayburn HOB.
USDA Reports: Dairy Products Prices, Meat Price Spreads, Cattle on Feed, National Hop Report, Peanut Prices, Dairy: World Markets and Trade, Coffee: World Markets and Trade.
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