What’s ahead for Washington this week: Never a moment, let alone a dull one

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 9 – Among continuing concerns: the escalating oil spill, terrorist threats in U.S. cities, and still no firm conclusion about what caused last week’s 1,000 point market plunge. Now add in this week’s planned events: Obama’s Supreme Court nominee expected Monday; Senate votes on derivatives and other contentious financial reform amendments starting Tuesday; grilling BP, Transocean and Halliburton in a series of congressional hearings also starting Tuesday; and the Kerry-Lieberman (but not Graham) climate bill unveiling Wednesday. Result: an even busier week than last.

That BP oil blowout in the Gulf now threatens not only Louisiana and its neighbors. It also threatens the East Coast if the Gulf Stream and/or hurricanes complicate the picture. Finally, the spill may also may end whatever hope remains of passing a climate bill this year. That’s according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who says senators need time to learn much more about the oil spill’s causes and consequences before voting on a climate bill which he insists must include more offshore drilling. That’s also according to a growing number of Democrats and environmentalists who see the spill as proof that any climate bill must phase out offshore drilling in favor of renewables, rather than increase offshore drilling as proposed in the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill.

Kerry and Lieberman said Friday they remain optimistic about passing their bill this year “because there is a growing and unprecedented bi-partisan coalition from the business, national security, faith and environmental communities that supports our legislation and is energized to work hard and get it passed. We look forward to rolling-out the legislation next Wednesday and passing the legislation with the support of Senator Graham and other Republicans, Democrats and Independents this year.”

Along with major crop reports coming out this week from USDA, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the House Agriculture Committee continues its series of hearings to prepare for the 2012 farm bill.

On Tuesday First Lady Michelle Obama will announce the findings of the Childhood Obesity Task Force report as part of her Let’s Move! initiative.

Wednesday kicks off a two-day ERS Conference on Causes and Consequences of Global Agricultural Productivity Growth. The meeting will focus on new research findings on agricultural productivity measurement and analysis from different countries and regions of the world, considering the implications for welfare, competitiveness, poverty, environment, and trade.

Congressional hearings this week include:

Tuesday, May 11

  • Senate Energy Committee 10 AM hearing on deepwater offshore drilling and the Deepwater Horizon accident, with witnesses including BP America President & Chair Lamar McKay; Transocean President & CEO Steven Newman; and Halliburton’s Tim Probert, president, global business lines and chief health, safety and environmental officer.
  • Senate Environment Committee 2:30 PM hearing on the Economic and Environmental Impacts of the Recent Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with witnesses including BP’s McKay; Transocean’s Newman; and Halliburton’s Probert.
  • Senate Environment Subcommittee hearing on EPA’s Role in Protecting Ocean Health.
  • Senate Finance Committee hearing on President Obama’s proposed fee on financial institutions to recover TARP costs.  

Wednesday, May 12

  • House Agriculture Committee on U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill with agriculture economists and academics.
  • House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on H.R. 4785, the Rural Energy Savings Program Act.
  • House Energy Subcommittee hearing on the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast Oil Spill

Thursday, May 13

  • House Agriculture Committee hearing on U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill with agriculture economists and academics.
  • Senate Energy Subcommittee hearing on the National Broadband Plan: Promoting Broadband Adoption.

Friday, May 14

  • House Agriculture Committee field hearing in Morrow, GA on U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012

Saturday, May 15

  • House Agriculture Committee field hearing in Troy, AL on U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012

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

  • Monday, May 10, Crop Progress
  • Tuesday, May 11, Cotton Ginnings – Ann., Crop Production, Weather-Crop Summary, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Conference: Causes and Consequences of Global Agricultural Productivity Growth, Season-Average Price Forecasts (continues on Wednesday)
  • Wednesday May 12, Broiler Hatchery, Rice Outlook, Oil Crops Outlook, Cotton and Wool Outlook, Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data
  • Thursday, May 13, Wheat Outlook, Feed Outlook, Livestock and Meat Trade Data, Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook ,U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update
  • Friday, May 14, Dairy Products Prices, Peanut Prices, Potato Stocks, Turkey Hatchery, Aquaculture Data

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