The most pressing business in both chambers this week is the renewal of three key provisions of the Patriot Act counter-terrorism surveillance law, the latest extension of which is set to expire this Friday.
But that’s only a fraction of what’s ahead for Congress. A visit by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the latest round of the White House’s deficit-reduction talks and several events examining U.S. foreign policy in a post-bin Laden world are just a few of the other items on the agenda in the four-day stretch before Memorial Day recess.
On the national security front, there are two hearings worth watching on Wednesday: the House Foreign Affairs Committee will take a look at the War Powers Act and U.S. involvement in Libya, which reached its 60-day mark last week; and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.) will hold a hearing on the implications of bin Laden’s death.
Another big hearing comes Thursday, when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nomination of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to succeed Jon Huntsman as U.S. ambassador to China.
On the debt-limit front, Vice President Biden hosts congressional leaders on Tuesday for their latest Blair House powwow. The stakes for Tuesday’s meeting, the group’s third, are higher in the wake of the apparent collapse of the Gang of Six and the intensifying debate over whether a hard-and-fast deadline for the debt ceiling exists in the first place.
On Wednesday, the Peterson Foundation holds its 2011 fiscal summit on “Solutions for America’s Future,” which will feature several big-name speakers focusing on ways to reduce the country’s debt. The event could provide a turning point in the debt-limit discussion – or it could simply underscore the magnitude of the challenge that the Biden-led group has set out to tackle.
And on the all-important where-to-go-to-kick-off-Memorial-Day-Weekend front, this Friday at 5 p.m. the National Gallery of Art holds its first “Jazz in the Garden” event of the summer, where you can enjoy Brazilian jazz with several hundred of your closest friends.
A closer look at the week ahead:
The Senate is in at 2 p.m. At 5 p.m., a vote is expected on ending debate on S.1038, the measure to extend the three expiring Patriot Act provisions until 2015.
The House is also in at 2 p.m. Votes under suspension of the rules are expected at 6:30 p.m. on five measures related to cost-of-living adjustments for veterans; the placement of monuments in Arlington Cemetery; tuition rates for service veterans; penalties for misrepresenting a business as being run by veterans; and extending the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.Committee hearings/other events:
11:30 a.m.: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) delivers the keynote address at a Bipartisan Policy Center event on “A Path to Fiscal Health.”
12:30 p.m.: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) holds his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.
1 p.m.: Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and others hold a Capitol news conference to unveil the “Small Business Health Relief Act.”
1:45 p.m.: Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) participates in a discussion on “Missile Defense Cooperation” at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2011 conference at the Washington Convention Center.
3 p.m.: The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on “The American Energy Initiative: Discussion of the Draft of the North American Made Energy Security Act of 2011.”
4 p.m.: Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal speaks at an Excellence in Government event at the Ronald Reagan Building.
4 p.m.: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas) participate in discussions at the AIPAC conference.
5 p.m.: The House Rules Committee meets to formulate a rule on H.R.1216, a measure that would eliminate $220 million in graduate-level medical funding over the next decade; and H.R.1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012.
8 p.m.: Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew delivers remarks at the Economic Club of Washington’s May meeting at the Renaissance Hotel.
Evening: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) deliver gala banquet speeches at the 2011 AIPAC conference.
The House is in session at 10 a.m.; the Senate is also in session. At 11 a.m., the chambers meet in joint session for an address by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The House also will begin consideration of three separate measures: S.990, a measure to extend the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act; H.R. 1216, a measure that would eliminate $220 million in graduate-level medical funding over the next decade; and H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2012 fiscal year.
Also on Tuesday, Biden and congressional leaders meet at Blair House for the third time this month as they work toward a long-term deficit-reduction plan.Committee hearings/other events:
8:30 a.m.: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) deliver remarks at the AIPAC closing plenary session.
8:30 a.m.: Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) speaks at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants 2011 spring meeting at the J.W. Marriott.
9 a.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on “Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Other Extremist Groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
9 a.m.: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testifies at a House Oversight Committee hearing on “Pain at the Pump: Policies that Suppress Domestic Production of Oil and Gas.”
11:50 a.m.: Boehner and other members of leadership hold a media availability with Netanyahu at the Speaker’s Balcony Hallway.
1 p.m.: Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivers a speech to the American Enterprise Institute titled, “America in the World.”
2 p.m.: Special adviser Elizabeth Warren testifies at a House Oversight Committee hearing on “Who’s Watching the Watchmen? Oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
2 p.m.: Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki and others testify at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on “The Future of Japan.”
2:30 p.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of William Burns to be deputy secretary of state.
2:30 p.m.: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) headlines a Center for American Progress forum on “Reassessing America’s Engagement in Afghanistan in the Wake of Osama bin Laden’s Death.”
3 p.m.: A House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee holds a hearing on “The Future of al-Qaeda.”
The House is in session at 10 a.m. and will continue working on the three measures it began considering on Tuesday. The Senate is also in session, with a final-passage vote on the Patriot Extension possible by evening.Committee hearings/other events:
9 a.m.: The Peterson Foundation holds its 2011 fiscal summit on “Solutions for America’s Future” at the Mellon Auditorium. Among those slated to speak are House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former President Bill Clinton, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, and National Fiscal Commission Co-Chairman and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.).
9 a.m.: Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) participate in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce rally on Capitol Hill.
9:30 a.m.: The House Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing on “Threats to the American Homeland after Killing Bin Laden: An Assessment.”
10 a.m.: The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.
10 a.m.: The House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on “Harnessing American Resources to Create Jobs and Address Rising Gasoline Prices - Part III: Impacts on Seniors, Working Families and Memorial Day Vacations.”
10:30 a.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on “War Powers, United States Operations in Libya, and Related Legislation.”
11:30 a.m.: Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) attend the Alliance for Justice’s annual luncheon at the Capital Hilton.
2 p.m.: FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on FBI matters.
4:30 p.m.: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) speaks at an American Enterprise Institute forum titled, “Why Memorial Day?”
The House is in session at 9 a.m. and will likely take up legislation extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act (if it has not already done so by Wednesday night). The Senate is also in session.Committee hearings/other events:
9:30 a.m.: The Committee on House Administration holds a hearing on “Inspector General Audit of the House’s FY2009 Financial Statements.”
9:30 a.m.: A House Oversight subcommittee holds a hearing on “Rightsizing the Federal Workforce.”
10 a.m.: The House Intelligence Committee meets to mark up H.R.1892, the “Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2012.”
10 a.m.: The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
10 a.m.: A House Education and Workforce subcommittee holds a hearing on “Corporate Campaigns and the NLRB: The Impact of Union Pressure on Job Creation.”
10 a.m.: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to be U.S. ambassador to China.
10 a.m.: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a hearing on “Opening the Northeast Corridor to Private Competition for the Development of High-Speed Rail.”
10:30 a.m.: A House Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on “How Will the Proposed Merger Between AT&T and T-Mobile Affect Wireless Telecommunications Competition?”
Noon: Former CBO Director Peter Orszag discusses “the outlook for U.S. fiscal deficits and possible remedies” at a luncheon hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
The House meets in pro forma session (meaning no official business is conducted). The Senate is not in session.
5 p.m.: The National Gallery of Art kicks off its “Jazz in the Garden” series with a concert in the Sculpture Garden.