By Bernie Becker, Erik Wasson, Peter Schroeder and Vicki Needham - 03/02/11 12:34 AM EST
Graham also called on President Obama to join with Republicans to forge a bipartisan deal on Social Security. At this point, Graham is seeking a Democrat co-sponsor for the legislation and, according to an aide, is working with a pair of freshman Tea Party-backed senators -- Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky -- on the issue.
The bill, as it stands, will deal with retirement age and adjusting benefit levels to make Social Security solvent. The aide said the legislation may include other options but that is still being decided.
Liberal Democrats want to solve the problem by raising the cap on income that is taxed for Social Security and have also said that the retirement benefit does not need to be part of any deficit reduction plan.
What Else to Watch For:
Bernanke in the House: Fresh on the heels of his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, will deliver an encore performance before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. His second appearance to discuss monetary policy could be more lively, as rambunctious Republican freshmen may want to press the Fed on its bond-buying program. And don't forget that the committee is also home to one Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who is Congress's vanguard on Fed bashing. We'll also be looking to see if any lawmakers take any cues from the Tea Party, after it was revealed that FreedomWorks helpfully provided suggested questions to lawmakers.
May I Have Some More, Please?: On Wednesday, more administration heavy-hitters will be on Capitol Hill to defend requests for additional spending. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to appear both before Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Appropriations. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also testify.
Rain or Shine, Sleet or Snow?: House Oversight will examine ways the U.S. Postal System can avoid a looming financial crisis. USPS has overpaid its pension fund and without legal changes will need to raise rates or cancel services such as Saturday delivery.
At Least It’s a Short Commute: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will cross the Rotunda for a Senate Commerce panel hearing on boosting America’s manufacturing base. (Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is also scheduled to testify.)
The House last year under Democratic leadership passed a “Make It in America” agenda of bills to help manufacturing, but the legislation largely stalled in the Senate.
Stakeholder Roundup: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will hear from current and former officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission, as it explores the corporate governance ramifications of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.
-- The Fed beige book is set to drop at 2 p.m.
-- The Mortgage Bankers Association is set to release its weekly applications survey.
-- And the Energy Information Administration is expected to circulate its "Week in Petroleum."
86ing the 1099: Our Vicki Needham looks into the House’s push to repeal the 1099 provision in the healthcare overhaul, which is likely to pass on Wednesday over Democratic objections.
The short version: Republicans argued they are using the same pay-for offered by Democrats last year to cover the "doc fix." Democrats say the measure, which eliminates a provision requiring businesses to file the form to every vendor from which they purchase at least $600 in goods and services, will create a $25 million tax increase on the middle class.
Hey, a CR Passed: And fairly easily. Our Floor Action blog has the details on the House spending measure that cuts $4 billion over two weeks and attracted the support of more than 100 Democrats.
On a related note, our Erik Wasson and Alexander Bolton note that the Senate is on pace to pass the measure, even as Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, called it a “terrible way to govern.”
Debating the Debt Limit: Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and David Vitter (R-La.) failed in their attempt Tuesday to attach a debt ceiling measure to the patent reform legislation being debated by the Senate.
The chamber voted along party lines to table the measure, which would force the government to prioritize payments on debt interest in case the debt limit is not raised.
(On a side note, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee criticized Republicans for voting for what they called a “Pay China First” measure. China currently holds a sizable amount of American debt.)
Tea Party on Trade: Given their Tea Party ties, it was no sure thing that the huge freshman class of House Republicans would get on board with free trade. (Tea Party sympathizers had their doubts on the issue, as this poll from last year shows.)
But onboard they are. Sixty-seven new House GOP lawmakers – including Tea Party favorites like Raul Labrador of Idaho and Allen West of Florida – signed a letter to President Obama calling for the trade pacts with South Korea, Panama and Colombia to be passed within the next six months.
Speaking of Trade: The Associated Press reports that the U.S. has branded Baidu, a prominent Chinese search engine, as one of the markets that greased the wheels for the selling of fake and pirated goods.
Finally: An ex-Goldman director gets slapped with S.E.C. insider trading charges, The Wall Street Journal reports.
What You Might Have Missed:
On the Money’s Tuesday:
-- Tom Coburn lauds the GAO for finding the “mother lode” of government waste.
-- Bernanke: The House’s $61 billion in cuts would only affect economic growth at the margins.
-- Tim Geithner got more problems from the left than the right during his Capitol Hill housing testimony.
-- Chamber of Commerce: No CFPB rulemaking until permanent head onboard.
-- Treasury now expects debt limit to be reached by April 15.
-- House freshmen aren’t the only ones who want more action on the Colombia and Panama trade agreements.
-- Senate Finance hearing: Don’t hold your breath on tax reform.
-- And voters don’t want to cut public broadcasting, a poll commissioned by public broadcasting finds.