I've been a bad blogger the last week: Congress was on recess and I was working on a number of long-form writing assignments that had stacked up in my queue. But now Congress is back and so is Greg Kaufmann, who sends in this preview of the week's action:
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy is expected to release his proposed legislation which will include a public plan option. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to announce which options are still on the table for its draft of healthcare reform as well.
The House and Senate will continue their work on the $100 billion war supplemental -- expected to be approved this week or next. Sticking points include a $5 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund. Over 90 percent of the funding goes to the military, instead of 80 percent being devoted to non-military purposes as called for by the Petraeus counterinsurgency strategy.
The Senate will begin debate on a bill to allow the FDA to regulate tobacco. A companion bill already passed the House. According to CongressDaily, the new law would allow the FDA "to limit the amount of nicotine and put restrictions on marketing and advertising…enlarge cigarette warnings and prohibit flavored cigarettes unless they taste like menthol… and bar companies from advertising cigarettes as ‘light' or ‘low tar.'"
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor began making rounds on the Hill today. She already met with Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions. In all, nine Senators were scheduled to meet with her today.
President Obama takes off for the Middle East and Europe tonight. Thursday he'll deliver a highly anticipated speech in Egypt.
Some notable hearings this week: Senate Armed Services held a confirmation hearing today for Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of US Forces in Afghanistan….Gary Gensler, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will talk "Regulatory Reform and the Derivatives Markets" with the Senate Committee on Agriculture…. House Financial Services takes a look at "The Present Condition and Future Status of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" tomorrow….. House Veterans Affairs holds a full committee hearing on "A National Commitment to End Veterans' Homelessness"…. Thursday, Senate Foreign Relations will hear testimony on US-China cooperation on climate change…. and closed hearings this week will delve into the security of Pakistan's nukes, "human capitol", and terrorism "hot spots."