By Bernie Becker, Erik Wasson, Peter Schroeder and Vicki Needham - 03/31/11 12:22 AM EDT
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR:
The Elite 8: Republicans from both chambers – Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee – are set to gather Thursday to discuss legislation that would set a timeframe for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to come free of government support, and then either sink or swim on their own. The proposal, introduced by Hensarling earlier this month, which would free Fannie and Freddie of government control in two years, and would either eliminate them or turn them into wholly private enterprises by the end of five years.
While that bill represents the broad GOP effort to overhaul the housing market, a House subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss the more granular effort. The capital markets subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will discuss eight bills introduced by Republicans on Tuesday that would tweak the operations of Fannie and Freddie. Those bills mark the opening of a push that ultimately seeks to wind down the institutions.
As it stands, Democrats and Republicans want to reduce the government's involvement in the housing finance market, though they differ on the specifics and a timeline.
The White House has offered three different plans for the overhaul, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner saying earlier this month that the overhaul needs to happen within the next two years to provide greater stability for the shaky housing market.
Debating Durbin: Retailers and backers of new limits on debit card fees are gathering on Capitol Hill tomorrow morning to push for a prompt finalizing of rules that would save merchants roughly $1 billion a year. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers Tuesday that the Fed would miss the April 21 deadline to finalize the rules -- due in large part to the over 11,000 comments it received on its proposed rules. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who backed the provision in the House, will appear to push for prompt action.
More budget!: The Business Roundtable will make their case of comprehensive, bipartisan deficit reduction at a teleconference tomorrow – with John Engler, the Roundtable’s president, and Norman Augustine, the former chairman and chief executive of Lockheed Martin, slated to talk about the need to get the government's balance sheet in order.
Meanwhile, the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget will send a letter tomorrow from 64 budget experts, calling on the president and House and Senate leadership to negotiate a comprehensive budget reform plan. The letter matches, in numbers, the 64 senators who wrote Obama calling for the same thing.
Elsewhere on the Hill: The Senate Budget Committee is slated to mark up the controversial nomination of Heather Higginbottom to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. The nominee has the support of Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the panel’s chairman, so she is likely to win confirmation – that is, unless Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the committee’s ranking member and a fierce skeptic of Higginbottom’s qualifications, places a hold.
Over on the House side, Ways and Means has both a markup – of a bill dealing with tax benefits for abortion – and a subcommittee hearing, on oversight of the IRS’s tax collection this filing season.
-- The Commerce Department is set to drop information on manufacturers’ shipments.
-- And the Labor Department is slated to its weekly report on initial jobless claims – one day before circulating the big report on March unemployment.
Gang of Six, Redux: Dow Jones reports that moderate House Democrats have reached out to Republicans in the chamber, and are in the opening stages of fiscal reform talks similar to what the so-called “Gang of Six” have undertaken in the Senate.
The Democrats are led by two members of the Blue Dog Coalition, which released its own budget benchmarks on Wednesday. For now at least, the House Republicans in the talks have yet to be identified, seemingly underscoring the fragile nature of the talks.
Where are the jobs?: So asks Mitt Romney, who slams the president’s job creating efforts in a new USA Today op-ed. Among the charges: Obama “inaugurated the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs policies we have seen since Jimmy Carter.”
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
On the Money’s Wednesday:
The federal TARP investment comes back with a profit.
Jamie Dimon: Debt default equals catastrophe.
Business Roundtable: Shutdown would hurt the economy.
Republicans on House Financial Services want some clarity from Elizabeth Warren…
While Warren says congressional appropriators should not be allowed to touch CFPB funding levels.
He may not like it, but Lloyd Doggett sees some momentum behind a corporate tax holiday.
Senate Republicans get set to reveal consensus balanced budget amendment.
Max Baucus touts report on unscientific barriers to American beef.
Whirlpool charges Samsung and LG with unfair trade practices.
Tom Coburn and Herb Kohl want to roll back federal printing costs.
Private sector payrolls expand.
And mortgage applications contract.
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