The House Foreign Affairs Committee has arguably gotten the fastest start out of the gate in the 112th Congress. While most committees have nothing planned for January and are still getting their websites in order, Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), has already planned two hearings next week on key foreign-policy issues.

On Jan. 18, the committee will hold a hearing on the referendum on independence for South Sudan. Among those testifying is Princeton Lyman, the Obama administration's special adviser for Sudan at the State Department.

Ros-Lehtinen has warned that the U.S. and other countries need to remain vigilant to ensure the referendum succeeds.

"The regime in Khartoum has proven time and again that it will do anything to maintain its grip on power, even the perpetration of genocide," she said in a statement over the weekend.

On Jan. 19, the committee will hold a hearing on "Assessing China's Behavior and its Impact on U.S. Interests." Larry Wortzel of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission is one witness. Wortzel's group issues a list of policy recommendations related to China each year, and last year's report called on the Congress to (among other things) take steps to combat China's undervalued currency, assess the ability of the U.S. to withstand military conflict with China and ask the Obama administration for a report outlining attacks on U.S. information systems that officials have said emanate out of China.

House Foreign Affairs also had a hearing planned for this week titled, "The United Nations: Urgent Problems that Need Congressional Action," but it was postponed due to the Arizona shooting.