What’s ahead for Washington this week: Congress gone, but sniping continues

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 05 – The gridlocked, grudge-bearing Congress is out of town this week. Yet House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) kicked off the week Monday with another blast, charging that “Out of touch, out of ideas, and out of money – that’s what you’re getting from Democrats in Washington right now.” That was how Boehner responded to President Obama's weekend comment that Democrats are “fighting to speed up this recovery and keep the economy growing by all means possible. That means extending unemployment insurance for workers who lost their jobs. That means getting small businesses the loans they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. And that means sending relief to states so they don’t have to lay off thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers.”

According to Obama over the weekend, “Republican leaders in Washington just don’t get it. While a majority of Senators support taking these steps to help the American people, some are playing the same old Washington games and using their power to hold this relief hostage – a move that only ends up holding back our recovery.”

According to Boehner on Monday, “Washington Democrats plowed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into a ‘stimulus’ program with promises it would create jobs ‘immediately’ and keep unemployment below eight percent. Nearly 18 months later, more than 3 million private sector jobs have been lost and unemployment is at 9.5 percent. Over the same period, more than 400,000 new government jobs have been created. More government, fewer jobs: this isn’t the picture of recovery, it’s just another Washington program that overspends and underdelivers.”

So even with Congress away, expect the sniping to continue as the two sides exchange accusations that it's entirely the other side's fault that urgent legislation remains stalled by the partisan bickering. Given Obama's apparent inability to break the Senate logjam now that Democrats no longer command the 60-vote majority needed to overcome Republican filibusters, the President may welcome sitting down with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. In this case, Obama will be dealing with the more distant problem of getting the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume talks.

Obama's hoping for resolution of another issue this week. On Thursday, an appeals court may re-instate the administration's six-month moratorium on deep water drilling in the Gulf which a lower court ruled against. Putting the ban back in place would allow the administration to breathe easier, no longer worried about the risk of a second blowout when the oil industry still lacks the know-how and equipment to handle the on-going BP gusher and its ever widening consequences.

On Thursday, Obama will be back at the center of the battle over whether to advance more taxpayer dollars for extending unemployment benefits and for helping out cash-strapped states. He'll visit Smith Electric Vehicles in Kansas City, Missouri to address these economic issues against the backdrop of new green jobs.

Congressional field hearings this week include:

Thursday, July 8

  • Senate Budget Committee field hearing on Transportation Investments: Promoting Economic Growth and Improving Safety Along ND 23, New Town, ND

  • Senate Budget Committee field hearing on Devils Lake Flooding Disaster: How Should the Federal Government Respond? Devils Lake ND

Friday, July 9

  • Senate Budget Committee field hearing on Transportation Investments: Promoting Economic Growth Along the US 52 and US 281 Corridors, Carrington, ND

  • Senate Budget Committee field hearing on Devils Lake Flooding Disaster: A Downstream Perspective, Valley City, ND

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

  • Tuesday, July 6, Crop Progress

  • Wednesday, July 7, Weather-Crop Summary, Broiler Hatchery, Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts - Ann.

  • Friday, July 9, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Season-Average Price Forecasts, Crop Production, Dairy Products Prices, Mink, Peanut Prices, Vegetables

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