The Week Ahead: Fund the government

The House and Senate reconvene after last week’s recess, and at the top of their agenda is keeping the government funded.

Republican leaders unveiled a short-term spending bill Friday that cuts $4 billion in current spending levels while funding the government through March 18. They call it a good-faith effort to find common ground with Democrats and avoid a shutdown that would begin after March 4 if spending legislation is not approved.

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The bill cuts $1.24 billion by terminating programs President Obama has proposed eliminating in his 2012 budget request. The bill would find the other $2.7 billion in savings by defunding earmarks.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats have been arguing over how to keep the government running with the GOP wanting a short-term solution that includes spending cuts and Democrats wanting a one that keeps current spending levels.

But Senate Democrats said Friday they were encouraged by the GOP’s latest plan.

As lawmakers debate the continuing resolution to fund the government, they’ll also be moving on to the next big money issue – President Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal. Several top administration officials are scheduled to testify about various components of $3.7 trillion proposal.

Monday, Feb. 28

Obama and Vice President Biden will host a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors at the White House. First lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will also speak at the meeting.

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will attend the National Governors Association’s Spouses’ luncheon at the State Department. The event is closed press.

Obama meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the White House to discuss providing humanitarian assistance to Libya’s people.

The Senate and House convene at 2 p.m.

The House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee holds a hearing on “Jobs Now: Protecting the Taxpayer & Securing Our Energy Future.” Expected attendees include: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). The hearing takes place at 2 p.m. at 340 Cannon.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finishes up a trip to Geneva, where she met with her counterparts on the situation in Libya. She will also address the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The National Press Club’s International Correspondents Committee will co-host a panel of journalists speaking on the role of digital media in the Egyptian Uprising. Speakers include Riz Khan of Al Jazeera English. The event will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the National Press Building (529 14th St. NW, 13th floor) in the First Amendment Lounge.

Tuesday, March 1

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on the Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 216 Hart.

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the 2012 budget request for the Justice Department. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. in 2359 Rayburn.

Clinton testifies on foreign policy priorities before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The hearing also marks the first use of the "Your Seat on the Dais" system, which allows the public to submit questions online. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in 2172 Rayburn.

Clinton testifies before the House Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee on the budget for the State Department. The hearing begins at 2 p.m. in 2359 Rayburn.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on mortgage finance reform. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 2128 Rayburn.

Navy Special Operations Commander Adm. Eric Olson and Marine Corps Central Commander Gen. James Mattis will testify the Senate Armed Services Committee on the 2012 Defense Authorization Request. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in 106 Dirksen.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testifies before the Senate Budget Committee on the president’s proposed 2012 budget for Education. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 608 Dirksen.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the president's proposed Federal Highway Administration budget for 2012. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 406 Dirksen.

LaHood will also testify on the Transportation Department budget before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee at 2:30 p.m in 253 Russell.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testifies before the House Appropriations Committee’s Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the budget of the Agriculture Department. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 2362-A Rayburn.

Internal Revenue Services Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies before the House Appropriations Committee. The hearing begins 10 a.m. in room H-309 of the Capitol.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan testifies on oversight of the HUD department before the full House Financial Services Committee. The hearing begins at 2 p.m. in 2128 Rayburn.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be the keynote speaker at the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) innovation conference in National Harbor, Md. The program funds high-risk, high-reward efforts to develop breakthrough energy technologies. The conference goes through Wednesday and other speakers include former GOP California Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar and several senators, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) gives the keynote address at the National Guard Youth Foundation Challenge of Champions Gala, which begins at 7 p.m. at the JW Marriott. Other guests include Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), country artists Tyler Hilton and Gretchen Wilson, gospel singer Kenny Bishop, and WWE star Kofi Kingston.

Wednesday, March 2

The president awards the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal at a White House ceremony. Michelle Obama will also attend.

The Fed releases its latest “beige book.” That document, full of anecdotal takes from business leaders nationwide, will provide the latest take from the central bank on the economy.

Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the 2012 International Affairs Budget. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in 106 Dirksen.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen testify before the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee on the budget for the Defense Department. With Gates expected to retire this year and Mullen’s term almost over, this is expected to be their last joint appearance defending the Pentagon’s budget request. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 2359 Rayburn.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the president's proposed 2012 budget for the Interior Department. Drilling projects are also a likely topic. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 366 Dirksen.

Michelle Obama and Duncan will read their favorite Dr. Seuss books to 300 elementary school students at the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building for the National Education Association’s 14th annual Read Across America Day, which also marks Dr. Suess’ birthday.

Michelle Obama will participate in a conference call with key school leaders and administrators from across the country to discuss ways to help schools join the Healthier US Schools Challenge program. She will be joined by Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Chu testifies before the Senate Budget Committee on the budget for the Energy Department. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 608 Dirksen.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the EPA budget request. The hearing begins at 2:30 p.m. in 406 Dirksen.

Bernanke delivers the semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to the House Financial Services Committee. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 2128 Rayburn.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. testifies before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on NASA’s 2012 budget request. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testifies before the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee on the DHS budget request. The hearing begins at 2 p.m. in 2359 Rayburn.

Thursday, March 3

Obama has his monthly meeting with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa at the White House to discuss the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will meet to consider the nomination of Gen. Martin Dempsey to be Army chief of staff. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in 106 Dirksen.

LaHood testifies before the Senate Budget Committee on the budget for the Transportation Department. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 608 Dirksen.

Geithner testifies about the global economy before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The hearing begins at 2:30 p.m. in 419 Dirksen.

Salazar testifies before the House Natural Resources Committee on the budget for the Interior Department. Chairman Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) is expected to grill Salazar on drilling progress since the BP oil spill. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 1324 Longworth.

Napolitano testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee on the DHS budget request. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 311 Cannon.

Bolden testifies before the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the NASA budget. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in 2362-A Rayburn.

Friday, March 4

Obama travels to Miami to give a speech on his plan for winning the future. He will also attend a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser.

Former Sen. Bob Dole accepts the Rosalie Wynn Hearst Distinguished Public Service Award and will hold a brief Q&A with the U.S. Senate Youth Program Alums. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Park Hotel at 520 N. Capitol St. NW. -- Erik Wasson, Peter Schroeder, Ben Geman, John T. Bennett, and Emily Goodin contributed.