What’s ahead for Washington this week: Politics, energy, jobs, trade, conservation & must-pass legislation

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Sept. 19 – Congress will be working overtime this week, rushing to wrap up at least a couple of the thick pile of must-do bills so that they can skip town by Oct. first to campaign full time. The House doesn't return until Wednesday for a short week, but it's expected to act quickly to pass the small business bill which the Senate passed last week. With lots of budget work left undone, Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for FY 2011 which begins Oct. first.
There's also a glimmer of hope that Senate Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) will be able to announce progress this week toward passing a slimmed-down energy bill to include both a national renewable electricity standard and more loan guarantees for nuclear power plant construction.

President Obama also will be busy, kicking off his week Monday by taking part in a televised CNBC town hall discussion on jobs and the economy. On Wednesday, he's off to New York City where he'll address both the U.N. General Assembly and then former President Bill Clinton's 2010 annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. Obama's U.N. Visit will include bilateral meetings with Chinese Premier Wen and Japanese Prime Minister Kan.

To showcase job-creating, economy-stimulating opportunities, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will tour a wastewater treatment plant construction site in Maryland Monday. Meanwhile USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe will be in California Monday and Tuesday focused on the importance of wildlife, conservation and anaerobic digesters, to “ highlight the work of America’s farmers and ranchers in protecting our nation’s natural resources.”

On Wednesday, Sec. Vilsack will speak at the Clinton Global Initiative panel on “Building Partnerships to Empower the World’s Smallholder Farmers” to explain how “corporations can help farmers build better lives for themselves, while strengthening their supply chains, protecting the environment, and promoting the long-term health and prosperity of the communities where they do business.”

On Thursday, Vilsack along with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, will speak at the Brookings conference on “Regional Innovation Clusters,” explaining how “clusters” or networks of interconnected, geographically concentrated businesses and related entities can “boost entrepreneurship and job growth” through coordinated federal policy designed “to enhance regional and national economic performance.”

It's also a busy week on the trade front for U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk. Ambassador Kirk holds a business roundtable in Baltimore Monday, then meets Tuesday with Indian Minister of Trade Anand Sharma as part of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, then holds bilateral meetings with New Zealand Minister of Trade Tim Groser and Australian Minister for Trade Dr. Craig Emerson, then addresses the 2nd Annual U.S.-Brazil Innovation Summit. On Wednesday, Kirk meets with Mexican Secretary of Economy Bruno Ferrari. On Thursday, he heads to Florida to discuss trade and the National Export Initiative.

This week's bumper crop of Congressional hearings will include:

Tuesday, September 21

  • Senate Banking Committee hearing on Investing in Infrastructure: Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy

Wednesday, September 22

  • Senate Budget Committee hearing on Assessing the Federal Policy Response to the Economic Crisis

  • Senate Rules Committee hearing on Examining the Filibuster: Legislative Proposals to Change Senate Procedures, with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) among the witnesses

  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on the salmonella outbreak linked to Iowa's massive egg recall

Thursday, September 23

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program and its effectiveness in spurring the near-term deployment of clean energy technology

Friday, September 24

  • House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law hearing on “Protecting America’s Harvest”

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

  • Monday, September 20, Catfish Processing, Hop Stocks, Crop Progress

  • Tuesday, September 21, Feed Grains Database, Wheat Data, Weather-Crop Summary, Catfish Feed Deliveries, Chickens and Eggs

  • Wednesday September 22, Broiler Hatchery, Cold Storage

  • Thursday, September 23, Citrus Fruits, Potatoes

  • Friday, September 24, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Conference: Emerging Issues and Recent Findings, Monthly Milk Cost of Production, Cotton Ginnings, Dairy Products Prices, Livestock Slaughter, Peanut Prices, Quarterly Hogs and Pigs, Turkeys Raised

To add your event to our calendar, please e-mail us at: jon@agri-pulse.com

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