- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Several energy-related measures and a massive tax bill are scheduled for debate this week before Congress takes a week’s break for the Fourth of July holiday.

One of the proposed energy bills would give the Federal Trade Commission investigative and enforcement authority to punish those accused of artificially inflating gasoline prices. Another proposal would take steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures markets, a practice that many Democrats and experts say has caused an increase in gas prices.

And a measure designed to force oil companies to start drilling or risk losing permits on the 68 million acres of undeveloped federal oil reserves on which they hold leases also is scheduled for debate. Some Democrats have accused the oil industry of “warehousing” those lands so as to keep the domestic oil supply lower and prices higher.

The chamber also may take up a measure to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was intended for only the wealthiest taxpayers, but would hit millions of middle-class taxpayers without congressional action.


The chamber is expected this week to approve measures on funding the war effort and updating the nation’s electronic surveillance laws, while also debating a landmark housing bill.

The war-funding measure calls for allocating $162 billion to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan well into next year. It also would provide billions of dollars for a new college-tuition reimbursement program for returning war veterans, an expansion of the unemployment-insurance benefits program, and provide money for Midwest flood relief.

The Senate also is expected to approve an update of the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which the House passed last week after more than a year of partisan wrangling. The measure would allow U.S. intelligence agencies to eavesdrop, without court approval, on foreign targets thought to be outside the United States. It also provides certain retroactive immunity from lawsuits to telephone companies that participated in a post-September 11 surveillance program that operated outside court review.

The housing bill, which aims to address the housing-market crisis, calls for an regulatory overhaul of the mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae, and includes changes to the Federal Housing Administration.



The Armed Services Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Wednesday on security developments in China. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2188.

The Foreign Affairs Middle East and South Asia subcommittee hears testimony at 2 p.m. Wednesday on the future relations between the United States and India regarding nuclear energy. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2172.

The Judiciary Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties subcommittee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday on interrogation rules at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141.

The Veterans’ Affairs health subcommittee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday on drafting legislation relating to mental health treatment for veterans and their families. Cannon House Office Building, Room 324.


The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hears testimony at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on how to end excessive speculation in commodity markets. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 342.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee hears testimony at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdayon the challenges of meeting future energy needs. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 366.

The Finance Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. Thursdayon potential tax reforms. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 215.

The Joint Economic Committee hears testimony at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on how rising oil prices will affect the U.S. economy. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 106.


A review of the Supreme Court’s rulings for the 2007-08 term will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Call 202/797.6105.

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