- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Debates, votes to watch

House

  • Congress continues to hammer out a massive mortgage rescue bill. The measure moves back to the House this week after it was approved tentatively by the Senate on Friday.
  • The bill’s centerpiece is a $300 billion aid package that would allow struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages at lower rates, with the loans backed by government. The package also calls for the establishment of an independent regulator to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that finance mortgages, and an overhaul of the Federal Housing Administration.

    The House is expected to make some changes to the bill, which could reach the chamber floor for a vote later this week.

  • The House this week also may take up a Democratic “use it or lose it” energy bill that would require oil companies to begin drilling on federal land on which they hold leases, and a transportation bill that would authorize $1 billion for bridge repairs, reconstruction or replacement.
  • Senate

  • The Senate is expected to continue debate Tuesday on a $50 billion package to fund the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for another five years. The program was initiated by President Bush in 2003 to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in 15 focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
  • The upper chamber this week also may take up two energy bills designed to ease the price of gasoline at the pump. Democrats are drafting a measure to curb excessive speculation in the petroleum futures markets, which many experts say has been a significant contributor to skyrocketing oil prices. Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed a measure that would allow coastal states to drill for oil 50 miles offshore.
  • Committee hearings to watch

    House

  • The Judiciary antitrust task force and competition policy subcommittee hears testimony at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on competition on the Internet. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141.
  • The energy and air quality subcommittee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the future of permanent nuclear waste disposal. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2123.
  • The Agriculture specialty crops, rural development and foreign agriculture subcommittee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Wednesday on international food aid and foreign agricultural development programs. Longworth House Office Building, Room 1300.
  • The Homeland Security Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday on the challenges facing border security. Cannon House Office Building, Room 311.
  • Senate

  • The Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the semiannual monetary policy report to Congress. Russell Senate Office Building, Room 325.
  • The Foreign Relations Committee hears testimony at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday on the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 419.
  • The Judiciary Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Wednesday on how the Bush administration’s policies on detaining terrorist suspects have impacted the global fight against terrorism. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226.
  • The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent investigations subcommittee hears testimony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on offshore tax-haven banks and U.S. tax compliance. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 106.
  • Events across Washington

  • Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon will outline his government’s priorities and discuss the role of the U.S.-Australia alliance in shaping peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region during a talk at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Call 202/797-6105.
  • Former Defense Secretary William J. Perry will discuss the possibility of reducing the global nuclear threat at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K St. NW. Call 202/775-3242.
  • A discussion on strengthening health care programs for the poor will take place at noon Tuesday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Call 202/691-4000.
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