Optimism wanes ahead of new unemployment numbers on Friday

Although the Senate will be out all this week, the House will still be hard at work, and there will be a number of significant economic events in the offing.

At the end of the week, all attention will turn to the latest unemployment numbers from the Labor Department. Although last month the unemployment rate grew from 8.8 to 9 percent, the takeaway was ultimately positive, as the economy easily beat expectations by adding 268,000 private-sector jobs.

However, the optimism brought on by that report has waned as recent data on the nation’s economic growth and first-time applications for unemployment have since disappointed. Financial markets and policymakers will be looking to the Friday report for an update on where the economy is headed.

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In the latest stage of the ongoing debt-limit debate, House Republicans are lining up a vote on a "clean" debt-limit increase, free of other spending cuts or reforms, that they plan to shoot down. That vote, expected to come Tuesday, is intended to prove that lawmakers will not approve a debt-limit hike without accompanying cuts.

Congressional appropriators will begin moving forward on several fronts this week. On Tuesday, the Agriculture subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will vote on the fiscal 2012 agriculture appropriations bill. The Defense subcommittee will follow that up Wednesday with a markup of its defense appropriations bill for 2012. And the Energy and Water subcommittee and Legislative Branch subcommittee will round out the week with Thursday markups of their own respective appropriations bills.

The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday to set the debate rules on the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security. It will follow that up with a Wednesday meeting on appropriations for military construction and veterans affairs.

On Tuesday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) will speak at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He will discuss ways to rejuvenate the manufacturing industry in the United States and tout Democrats’ “Make It in America” agenda, which they say would boost the economy with investments in infrastructure, education and energy.

The House Financial Services Committee will explore the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME program Friday, after a Washington Post investigation detailed local problems with the block grant initiative. HUD officials, including Secretary Shaun Donovan, have pushed back against the report, and two department officials are slated to testify.

Earlier in the week, the Financial Services Committee will hear from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. On Wednesday, he will give the committee his annual testimony on the state of the international financial system.

Following the hearing with Geithner, the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy will hold an afternoon hearing on the Federal Reserve’s lending disclosures. On Thursday, the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and trade will mark up legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

On Tuesday, the House Budget Committee will step into the housing debate with a hearing on how much exposure taxpayers have to the ailing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The hearing comes as Republicans in the House push over a dozen bills designed to wind down Fannie and Freddie, which they say expose taxpayers to hundreds of billions of dollars in losses. On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee will discuss corporate tax issues facing businesses.

On Wednesday, the House Small Business Committee will discuss ways to improve credit access for small businesses, while the House Oversight Committee will explore two economic issues this week.

As Republicans look for more places to cut spending, they will host a subcommittee hearing on duplications and inefficiencies in federal welfare programs Wednesday. Then on Thursday, another subcommittee will discuss potential dangers of identity theft associated with the IRS’s E-File program.