What’s ahead for Washington this week: Regulating Wall Street

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 2 – The airwaves will be humming with Washington news this week because the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) will be in town for Washington Watch 2010. Among others, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary Jim Miller and Chief Economist Joe Glauber will address the meeting – followed later in the day by former Agriculture Secretary Jack Block. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will be responsible for bringing National Cooperative Business Association members up to date on ag policy developments at this week’s NCBA conference.

Ag policy will also be in the spotlight thanks to the House Ag Committee’s ongoing series of field hearings to prepare for the 2012 farm bill. Following last Friday’s Iowa hearing and Saturday’s Idaho hearing, the committee convenes in Fresno, CA on Monday and Cheyenne, WY on Tuesday.

President Obama spent a busy weekend keeping a close eye on the worsening oil spill disaster off the Louisiana coastline – and warning of further disaster on the financial front if Congress fails to replace partisan bickering with comprehensive Wall Street reform. The next two weeks will likely be dominated by the Senate debating literally hundreds of amendments designed to either strengthen or weaken the overall provisions written by Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd (D-CT) and the specific derivatives provisions written by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).

In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said the Wall Street reform bill is designed “to hold Wall Street accountable and protect consumers and small businesses in our financial system.” He warned that the challenge for Congress is to fend off the “special interests” and their  “army of lobbyists”  working the backrooms of Congress “in the hopes of tilting the laws in their favor.”

But Obama’s call on Congress to resist lobbyist pressure didn’t please Democrats in Congress. They’d prefer to have the President blame Republican obstructionism and record-setting filibustering, not blame Congress as a whole. The added level of tension between the White House and congressional Democrats could make it even tougher to muscle through all the legislation which both the White House and the Senate and House leadership hope to tackle in the brief legislative time remaining before the November elections: the FY 2011 budget, financial reform, climate change, immigration, and food safety.

Congressional hearings this week include:

Monday, May 3

  • House Agriculture Committee field hearing, Monday, Fresno, CA, To review U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill with witnesses which include California producers, packers, shippers and retailers.

Tuesday, May 4

  • House Agriculture Committee field hearing, Cheyenne, WY,  To review U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill with witnesses which include foresters, and forest products, dairy, livestock, wheat and sugarbeet producers.

Wednesday, May 5

  • Joint Economic Committee hearing on Avoiding Another Lost Decade:  How to Promote Job Creation, with Treasury Assistant Secretary Alan Krueger

Thursday, May 6

  • Senate Energy Committee hearing on offshore oil and gas development, including the Interior Department’s five year plan and the Deepwater Horizon explosion, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on The Role and Performance of FDA in Ensuring Food Safety
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee hearing on The End of Excess: Reversing Our Addiction to Debt and Leverage

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

  • Monday, May 3, Dairy Products, Crop Progress, Commodity Costs and Returns Data
  • Tuesday, May 4, Weather-Crop Summary
  • Wednesday May 5, Broiler Hatchery
  • Friday, May 7, Dairy Products Prices, Peanut Prices

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