What’s ahead for Washington this week: Congressional overload

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, June 20 – With unemployment benefits expired, biofuels tax credits long expired, extra money for states and the Medicare doc fix both still in flux, just a week left before confirmation hearings begin for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, and the November elections moving up fast, Congress has plenty of work to do. Yet somehow there's confidence that the House/Senate conference will complete its work on a final Wall Street reform bill by Friday – and that Democrats will conclude their internal negotiations this week on how many climate change provisions they can add to an energy bill without destroying their ability to pass an energy bill this year.

Congressional committees will be busy too. Just when China finally may (or may not after all) allow its currency to rise to a somewhat more realistic level, two Senate hearings will focus on what to do about China. Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee will continue its efforts to get a head-start on the 2012 farm bill, hoping to lock in funding before the budget axe descends.

With all that congressional action – or lack of action – and with the ongoing disaster along the Gulf coast as the oil continues to gush, it's no wonder that President Obama is headed out of town. After he meets with a bipartisan group of senators on climate legislation Wednesday and meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday to discuss trade and other mutual concerns, Obama is off to Canada for the G8 and G20 meetings of world leaders to discuss global financial issues.

Congressional hearings this week include:

Tuesday, June 22

  • Senate Energy Committee hearing on policies to reduce oil consumption through the promotion of accelerated deployment of electric-drive vehicles, as proposed in S. 3495, the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010.

  • House/Senate Conference on the Wall Street reform bill will consider Pending offers and Counter-offers from Week One; Consumer Financial Protection-CFPA/CFPB-title 10 of base text; Predatory lending-title 14 of base text; Risk retention-subtitle D of title 9 of base text; Interchange-section 1076 of base text; and Access issues-titles 10, 12, and 14 of base text.

Wednesday, June 23

  • Senate Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

  • Senate Finance Committee hearing on The U.S. – China Trade Relationship: Finding a New Path Forward, with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Ambassador Ronald Kirk, United States Trade Representative.

  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Finding Common Ground with a Rising China, with Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor Counselor and Trustee, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Dr. Laura Tyson, Former Chairperson of the President’s National Economic Council (NEC), Professor, Berkeley Haas School of Business, Carla A. Hills, Former U.S. Trade Representative, Chair, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Thursday, June 24

  • Senate Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review U.S. farm safety net programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.

  • Senate Energy Committee hearing on S. 3497, a bill to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to require leases entered into under that Act to include a plan that describes the means and timeline for containment and termination of an ongoing discharge of oil, and for other purposes; and S. 3431, a bill to improve the administration of the Minerals Management Service, and for other purposes.

  • House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Overcoming Rural Health Care Barriers: Use of Innovative Wireless Health Technology Solutions.

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

  • Monday, June 21, Catfish Feed Deliveries, Crop Progress, Wheat Data, Feed Grains Database

  • Tuesday, June 22, Weather-Crop Summary, Chickens and Eggs, Cold Storage

  • Wednesday June 23, Broiler Hatchery

  • Thursday, June 24, Vegetables and Melons Outlook

  • Friday, June 25, Dairy Products Prices, Livestock Slaughter, Poultry Slaughter, Peanut Prices, Peanut Stocks and Processing, Quarterly Hogs and Pigs, Monthly Milk Cost of Production

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