- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Debates, votes to watch

House

The biggest action on Capitol Hill this week is expected to come from the House, which is scheduled to take up a landmark mortgage-rescue bill Wednesday.

The Senate approved the measure earlier this month, but House leaders scrambled last week to include a request by the Bush administration for a provision to financially back Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that finance mortgages.

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, and an overhaul of the Federal Housing Administration.

The House also this week may take up a Senate measure to spend $48 billion to fight AIDS globally during the next five years - a measure that included a provision to lift a 21-year-old ban on foreigners with HIV/AIDS entering the United States.

The Senate last week approved the AIDS package passed by a vote of 80-16. The House passed a similar version of the bill in April, although it didn’t include lifting the AIDS travel ban.

Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, may submit a bill this week designed to take steps to curb excessive speculation in the petroleum futures markets. Democrats and some financial market experts have blamed oil speculation for significantly contributing to skyrocketing gas prices, possibly by up to 50 percent.

The House approved a similar measure last month by a vote of 402-19.

Senate Democrats also this week may take up an energy measure would compel oil companies to surrender oil and gas leases on federal land they’re not drilling on and prohibit these companies from acquiring new leases. Democrats have accused the oil industry of “warehousing” 68 million acres of land on which they already hold leases so as to keep the domestic oil supply lower and prices higher.

A related so-called use-it-or-lose-it measure failed in the House last week, as opponents said the bill did nothing to immediately increase the supply of oil.

Committee hearings to watch

House

  • The Foreign Affairs Committee hears testimony at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on China ahead of the Summer Olympics in Beijing in August. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2172.
  • The Armed Services Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Wednesday from the Government Accountability Office on a progress report on Iraq. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2118.
  • The Judiciary subcommittee on Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties hears testimony at 1 p.m. Thursday on lessons learned regarding the 2004 presidential election. House Rayburn Office Building, Room 2141.
  • The Judiciary Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Friday regarding a review of the George W. Bush presidency and expansions of the executive branch power. House Rayburn Office Building, Room 2141.
  • Senate

  • The Environment and Public Works Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the implications of global warming. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 406.
  • The Environment and Public Works Committee hears testimony at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on the Midwest floods. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 406.
  • The Energy and Natural Resources Committee hears testimony at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday on the status of federal programs targeted at reducing gasoline demand. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 366.
  • The Health, Education and Labor & Pensions subcommittee on children and families hears testimony at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on childhood obesity. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 430.
  • EVENTS ACROSS WASHINGTON

  • A public forum on the need for a national strategy that promotes infrastructure as a central component of long-term, broadly shared growth will take place 8:45 a.m. Friday at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Call 202/797-6105.
  • A panel discussion that will assess the Iraq war from a ground perspective will take place at 11:15 a.m. Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1150 17th St. NW. Call 202/862-5929.
  • The Washington Times

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