From Greg Kaufmann:
Now that Obama has announced his Af/Pak strategy there will be a whole host of hearings about it this week.
One that was already in the works was the Congressional Progressive Caucus' second forum in a six-part series. (You can read about the first forum here.) Wednesday the CPC will explore the question "Will the policies and goals of the Obama Administration serve our strategic interests?" Speakers include Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell; Joanne Trotter, Director of Programs with the Aga Khan Foundation, USA; and Abdulkader Sinno, professor of political science and middle eastern studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.
General Petraeus and Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of Defense for policy, will testify before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will also hold a hearing Thursday morning entitled "…Achieving Peace and Stability in the Graveyard of Empires". Senate Foreign Relations holds a full committee hearing on "Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan". House Oversight meets about "…Engaging Regional Stakeholders"; and the House (Select) Intelligence Committee has a closed door briefing on Afghanistan.
Both the House and Senate will take up their FY10 budget resolutions which they need to complete before the two-week recess scheduled to begin at the end of this week. In the Senate, that means an unlimited number of amendments are allowed, with each one given two minutes for debate. Should be plenty of opportunities to see just how whacked-out the GOP is, and watch Sen. Judd Gregg fulminate as -- according to CongressDaily -- he offers amendments already defeated in committee. (A big issue in the Senate is whether it will use the "reconciliation" rule which would allow the budget to pass with a simple majority rather than 60 votes.) Look for the Progressive Caucus Budget Alternative to be offered and debated on the House floor on Thursday -- I'd imagine there will be some smart cuts to obsolete Cold War weapons systems and the disastrous $13 billion per year Missile Defense program, among other things.
According to CongressDaily, the White House might send its supplemental spending requests for Afghanistan and Iraq this week, with $75.5 billion for military and "billions more for the State Department and other agencies."
The House is also expected to approve its national service legislation and Rep. Barney Frank's legislation to limit bonuses at financial institutions that take TARP money -- even if contracts regarding bonuses were signed prior to taking bailout funds. (Satisfying, but is it legal? Would be interested in comments from people with any insights into that.)
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health holds two healthcare reform hearings on public health and reducing costs and improving safety….
House Ways and Means takes a look at how the IRS can crackdown on the estimated $300 billion in revenues lost in offshore accounts and tax havens at a hearing entitled "Banking Secrecy Practices and Wealthy American Taxpayers"….
Obama's guy for recovery money oversight -- Earl Devaney, a former cop and Secret Service agent -- will appear before Senate Homeland Security for an update on those efforts....
House Homeland Security continues the focus on Mexico -- looking at drug-cartel violence on the US-Mexico border… Senate Foreign Relations has a field hearing in El Paso today exploring similar issues.
Other hearings of note: the media will have a blast and Congressmen will compete for sound bites when former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday….
A Senate Banking Subcommittee hears "Lessons from the New Deal" from White House Council of Economic Advisors Chair Christina Romer, economist James Galbraith, and others….
One lesson from the New Deal -- support the Arts. House Appropriations holds a hearing on "The Arts" which I'm sure faces plenty of detractors from the Blue Dogs and GOP in these times… Wynton Marsalis will testify as will Linda Ronstadt….
Finally -- yikes -- a Joint Economic Committee hearing on the March Jobs Report on Friday.