The Week Ahead: Deficit and Dodd-Frank

With the clock ticking more loudly as the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling approaches, lawmakers will continue to be under pressure this week to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

There were no formal meetings over the weekend and nothing was scheduled for during the week as of press time, but it is expected both sides will sit down again to hash out an agreement.

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The impasse remains over Republicans’ opposition to any tax increases and Democrats insisting on incorporating new revenues into a deficit package. President Obama has said that he would like to have a deal by July 22 so that Congress will have enough time to pass it before Aug. 2, when the U.S. would default on its debs.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) proposal to raise the debt limit in three increments before the 2012 election has been raised as a potential alternative solution, but it's opposed by conservatives in both the House and Senate.

On Tuesday, the House is likely to vote on the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, which would provide a debt-ceiling increase with short-term spending cuts, long-term spending caps and a balanced-budget amendment. It is expected to pass, but faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Obama is expected to nominate former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The president decided against choosing Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who has been setting up the bureau as a special adviser but was unpopular with lawmakers.

This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a comprehensive measure affecting all federal financial regulatory agencies and affecting almost every aspect of the nation's financial services industry. It also formed the CFPB. Obama signed legislation into law on July 21, 2010.


Monday, July 18

Obama is expected to announce Cordray's nomination as CFPB chief at around 1:05 p.m. In the morning he will meet with members of the Giving Pledge, including co-founders Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and others who have taken the Giving Pledge.

Later in the day Obama will host an education roundtable with business leaders, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes and America’s Promise Alliance Chairwoman Alma Powell and Founding Chairman Gen. Colin Powell to discuss what the business community can do to ensure a skilled, educated and competitive U.S. workforce.

After that the president and senior administration officials will meet with heads of financial regulatory agencies in the Roosevelt Room to receive an update on implementation of the Dodd-Frank bill.

The Senate will meet at 3:30 p.m. to resume consideration of H.R. 2055, the Military Construction-Veterans Administration appropriations bill. At 5 p.m. the Senate will hold an executive session to discuss the nomination of J. Paul Oetken to be a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York, with a roll-call vote expected on the nomination at 5:30 p.m.

The House, originally scheduled to return Tuesday, will meet Monday instead. First votes are expected around 6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, July 19

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Enhanced Consumer Financial Protection After the Financial Crisis." Michael Calhoun, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending, and Andrew J. Pincus, representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will testify. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in 538 Dirksen.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on "2011 Spring Storms: Picking Up the Pieces and Building Back Stronger.” The witnesses include Richard Serino, deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Christopher Masingill, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority; David Maxwell, director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management; Thomas M. Womack, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency; and Brian O’Brian, the president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. The hearing will begin at 2:30 p.m. in 342 Dirksen.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2012. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in 2172 Rayburn.


Wednesday, July 20

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on S. 598, the "Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) on American Families.” Joe Solmonese, the president of Human Rights Campaign, and Evan Wolfson, the founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry, will testify. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in 226 Dirksen.


Thursday, July 21

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on "Enhanced Oversight After the Financial Crisis: The Wall Street Reform Act at One Year." Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin; Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro; Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler; Acting Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Martin J. Gruenberg; and Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh will also testify. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in 538 Dirksen.


Friday, July 22

Obama will host New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the White House.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Post Ministerial Conference and will meet with foreign ministers of the East Asia Summit. She will also participate in the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting with the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

Additionally, Clinton will host the “Friends of the Lower Mekong” meeting to discuss relations in the lower Mekong region.