What’s ahead for Washington this week: Legislative rush

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, April 25 – With the November mid-term elections moving up fast, the congressional rush is on. The administration is eager to rack up more legislative victories while Republicans are determined to limit the damage by being able to claim they successfully delayed the financial reform, climate change and immigration bills until they were either defeated or improved by adding significant concessions to GOP demands.

The first test in this battle of the bills comes Monday afternoon when Senate Democrats hope to find the single Republican vote they need to prevent a Republican filibuster of the Wall Street reform bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) voted with Democrats last week to report Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s derivates reform bill out of the Senate Agriculture Committee with a  bipartisan 13-8 vote, but made it clear that he wanted to see additional changes. But in Monday’s Senate floor cloture vote, the most likely Republican to break ranks is not Grassley but instead Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) who joined Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to include Lincoln’s tough derivatives provisions in the final financial reform bill.

On another front, the Democrats’ sudden interest in bringing up an immigration bill quickly led Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to back away from the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate bill which had been scheduled for unveiling Monday morning. So Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) postponed the climate bill announcement indefinitely, “pending developments.”

With all that congressional wrangling, it’s no wonder that the President is heading for farm country, accompanied by USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack. Obama will still be talking jobs and economic recovery but this time, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the pair will call on farmers and

Main Street
businesses in Ottuma and Madison, Iowa and Quincy, Illinois. They will also tour the POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri and visit with local farmers.

Wrangling on a third front – genetically engineered crops – arrives Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the case of Monsanto’s biotech alfalfa seeds which were taken off the market in 2007 after a legal challenge.
Congressional hearings this week include:

Tuesday, April 27

  • Senate Environment Subcommittee hearing on Collaborative Solutions to Wildlife and Habitat Management

Wednesday, April 28

  • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on National Assessment of Energy Policies with Energy Sec. Steven Chu and others.
  • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on FY 2011 Budget for the SEC and CFTC, with CFTC Chair Gary Gensler and SEC Chair Mary Schapiro
  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on Clean Energy Policies that Reduce Our Dependence on Oil
  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on Antibiotic Resistance and the Threat to Public Health

Thursday, April 29

  • Senate Banking Committee hearing on Short-termism in Financial Markets
  • Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing on Doubling U.S. Exports: Are U.S. Sea Ports Ready for the Challenge?
  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on The National Broadband Plan: Competitive Availability of Navigation Devices
  • House Ways & Means Committee hearing on U.S.-Cuba Policy

Friday, April 30

  • House Agriculture Committee field hearing to review U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill, Iowa State Fair Grounds, Penningroth Sale Center, Des Moines

USDA’s Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:

  • Monday, April 26, Poultry Slaughter, Crop Progress, Monthly Milk Cost of Production
  • Tuesday, April 27, Weather-Crop Summary
  • Wednesday April 28, U.S. and Canadian Hogs, Broiler Hatchery
  • Thursday, April 29, Livestock Slaughter - Ann., Dairy Products - Ann., Dairy Products Prices - Ann., Meat Animals - PDI, Milk - PDI, Poultry - Production and Value
  • Friday, April 30, Dairy Products Prices, Agricultural Prices, Egg Products, Grain Stocks Historical Track Records, Peanut Prices, Peanut Stocks and Processing

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