This week: Biden group to reconvene on debt talks Tuesday

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Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) may unveil his 2012 budget resolution sometime this week. Conrad told ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that a markup could come as early as Monday, but the committee indicated late Friday that it would be later.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will jump into the budget fight himself Tuesday when he unveils his own 2012 proposal. Few specifics are known, but his office touts it as balancing the budget within nine years — a much quicker pace than the main GOP offering from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which does not project budget surpluses until 2040.

The Senate Banking Committee will gather several top officials from the world of financial regulation Thursday to discuss their efforts to monitor the financial system after the crisis and subsequent reform law. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as well as top officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Treasury Department, are slated to testify. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which gathers top regulators together and is charged with monitoring the overall well-being of the nation’s financial markets.

The panel will precede that hearing with one Tuesday where lawmakers will review a report from the government-sanctioned Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. That group released the first official government report on the financial crisis in January, but was marred by a partisan breakdown of its members that led to multiple takes. Phil Angelides, the former California state treasurer who helmed the group, will testify.

The Ways and Means panel is scheduled on Wednesday to mark up legislation that aims to give states more options in how to spend their share of funds for jobless benefits. The measure — introduced by three GOP members of the committee, including Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) — appears to be on something of a fast track, as it is slated to get committee attention less than a week after it was introduced. Democrats have roundly criticized the bill, calling it an assault on the unemployed.

The House Financial Services Committee will mark up a handful of bills Thursday as Republicans work to rein in and slow down the Dodd-Frank law. Several of the bills on the table would make changes to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, while another would delay new rules on financial derivatives by 18 months. The committee will also consider a bill that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Senate Finance Committee has set up a trio of hearings this week. On Tuesday, the panel will meet to discuss Social Security and how it relates to the fight to reduce the deficit. They will follow that up with a hearing Wednesday on the pending U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement, and close out the week with a Thursday debate on oil-and-gas tax incentives, and their relation to the recent spike in energy prices.

The Colombia hearing will be an opportunity to hear from the AFL-CIO about its opposition to the trade pact. The White House last week announced that Colombia had already made enough progress on an April labor action plan to justify the deal moving forward.

The House Agriculture Committee will also discuss the Colombia trade agreement, as well as pending deals with Korea and Panama, at a Thursday hearing.