OVERNIGHT MONEY: Chop, chop redux

So stay tuned. If a bill does not drop Friday, it will be all but impossible for the House to vote on a spending measure next week, its last in Washington before recessing for a district work week. Upon their return, the House and Senate would then only have a week left to hammer out their differences before the government could shut down March 4.

“I know that is not something leadership wants,” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, told reporters.

But, he added, “it is a possibility.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, came up with the size of the cut in the leadership bill and has claimed it technically meets Republicans' pledge to bring spending down to 2008 levels.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday, he stuck by his math, saying that the House would vote next week to cut more spending than was called for in the GOP's Pledge to America.

What Else to Watch for:

Fannie and Freddie, the Future: In what would many other days be our top story, the administration is set on Friday morning to finally release its report on how to reform the housing finance system -- and Republicans are chomping at the bit to get going on overhauling troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

The report was originally due at the end of January, but the administration took a two-week rain check. Early reports indicate that, instead of one path forward, the administration will offer up three different options, with the complete elimination of Fannie and Freddie supposedly on the table.

Given that housing reform is expected to be a major topic in the new Congress, what the administration shows it will be willing to consider will play a key role in the debate going forward.

CPAC! Day Two: The conservative conference will not lack for potential Republican presidential candidates on Friday, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana all scheduled to stop by.

But for fans of balanced budget amendments, the attraction may be that both of Utah’s Republican senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, are also expected to be in attendance. Hatch and Lee are currently backing different, if somewhat similar, balanced budget amendments. 

Congressional Daybook: The House will be in town on Friday, but the hearing schedule is still shaping up to be pretty light -- at least when it comes to our topics. A House Appropriations subcommittee will discuss prison spending, while a House Judiciary subcommittee will tackle patent reform. A joint hearing of the House Ways and Means and Transportation subcommittees, meanwhile, will discuss Social Security’s national computer center.

Breaking Thursday:

China Moves. Methodically: China is taking steps to loosen its grip over its currency, though the country’s leaders still seem wary about a full free-market plunge, The New York Times reports. As lawmakers in Washington continue to discuss ways to take on China’s currency policy, Beijing has allowed American companies to finance projects in the country by selling renminbi-dominated bonds. 

On that Note: Lael Brainard, an undersecretary at the Treasury Department, said Thursday that the U.S. was intensely focused on renminbi and unsatisfied with the current rate of progress, Bloomberg reports.

NYSE on the Move: The New York Stock Exchange is close to being acquired by Deutsche Börse, The Wall Street Journal reports, a move that would form the world’s biggest financial exchange. 

According to the Journal, the takeover is representative of New York’s “fading dominance on the world stage” and a recognition that trading is now a 24-hour a day, worldwide venture.  

What You Might Have Missed:

On the Money’s Thursday:

Darrell Issa’s push on government regulation met Democratic pushback.

A Fed governor skeptical of QE2 sends in his resignation papers.

More on spending: Club for Growth says $100 billion or else

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) stands in the way of trade program extensions. 

Senate Banking has a who’s who lined up to discuss Dodd-Frank. 

Ahead of the administration plan, a community group wags its finger against privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) responds to NASDAQ hackings with cybersecurity measure

And mortgage rates go north, while jobless claims go south