By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 – With the Senate still away until next week, the House will be in the spotlight as it stages its two-day debate over the Republican bill H.R. 2, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law.” Wednesday's vote on the bill is a party-line foregone conclusion – with general agreement too that the House vote for repeal will go no further since Democrats remain in charge in the Senate. There will also be a floor vote on a Republican resolution instructing committee chairmen to start drafting “legislation replacing the job-killing health care law.” That work in fact kicks off with a Judiciary Committee Medical Liability hearing Thursday.

Ag biotech will share the spotlight. On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee will review USDA's biotechnology product regulatory approval process. This will be a “public forum” not a hearing because the committee is not yet formally organized. But new Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) wanted views aired ASAP since USDA is expected to announce its decision Jan. 24 on whether to allow unrestricted planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa. Among the witnesses at the table Thursday: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

House committees under their new Republican chairmen will also meet this week on tax reform and on “China’s Behavior and its Impact on U.S. Interests.” The House Foreign Affairs Committee briefing on China Wednesday comes at an interesting time. On Tuesday, China's President Hu Jintao arrives on a four-day state visit which will include meeting with President Obama on economic, environmental, trade and defense issues. Then Hu will be guest of honor at a gala White House dinner Wednesday evening. Hu visits Capitol Hill Thursday to meet Republican and Democratic congressional leaders before flying to Chicago – presumably for a closer look at the fields and commodity markets which supply China with a rapidly growing share of the soybeans, corn and DDGS the Chinese market is gobbling up.

Honoring GOP pledges to introduce at least one new spending-cut bill every week, this week the House will consider the “Stop the OverPrinting Act” to reduce the number of printed copies of legislation, saving some $35 million over 10 years as more people switch to reading bills online.

Monday, Jan. 17

  • Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

  • Joint National Association of Wheat Growers, U.S. Wheat Associates Wheat Industry Winter Conference through Jan. 19.

Tuesday, Jan. 18

  • USDA reports - Aquaculture Data, Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook.

Wednesday, Jan. 19

  • House Foreign Affairs Committee briefing on China: Assessing China’s Behavior and its Impact on U.S. Interests.

  • USDA reports - Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook; Quick Stats Database; Agricultural Chemical Usage - Nursery and Floriculture; Broiler Hatchery; Milk Production.

  • American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) webinar on “Renewable Energy in the New Politics of Common Ground” to assess prospects for bipartisan support for renewable energy development.

  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conference on “Innovations that Nourish the Planet” to deal with global hunger when “investments in agricultural development by governments, international lenders, and foundations are at historic lows.” Speakers include USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

  • Brookings Institution conference on “Beyond a Global Deal” to “discuss the path forward on climate change.”

Thursday, Jan. 20

  • House Agriculture Committee public forum to review USDA's biotechnology product regulatory approval process.

  • USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) holds the first meeting of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health on Jan. 20 & 21, with tentative discussion topics including Animal disease traceability; Aquaculture and animal health; Emergency response and management; Trade and emerging global animal health issues; USDA's role in public health initiatives; National disease management programs; and Veterinary Services' strategic planning effort.

  • House Ways & Means Committee First in a Series of Hearings on Fundamental Tax Reform: to Examine the Burdens Imposed by the Current Federal Income Tax System and the Need for Reform.

  • House Judiciary Committee hearing on Medical Liability Reform: Cutting Costs, Spurring Investment, Creating Jobs.

  • USDA reports - Catfish Processing, Catfish Feed Deliveries.

Friday, Jan. 21

  • Focusing on renewable energy, President Obama visits General Electric operations in Schenectady, New York, headquarters for GE's largest energy division including steam turbines, generators, wind, solar, and the future home of GE's advanced battery manufacturing facility. Obama will call for growing the U.S. economy and making America more competitive by investing in clean energy innovation and jobs.

  • USDA reports - Wheat Data, Feed Grains Database, Dairy Products Prices, Livestock Slaughter, Cattle on Feed, Chickens and Eggs, Cold Storage, Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts - Preliminary, N. American Potatoes, Peanut Prices

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