By Bernie Becker, Peter Schroeder, Erik Wasson and Vicki Needham - 10/12/11 11:17 PM EDT
On Wednesday, the House also passed a support program for workers displaced by international trade called Trade Adjustment Assistance, which was an administration demand for sending up the trade pacts. But a day after the Senate endorsed a China currency bill, its fate in the House remains uncertain, even after Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanded action.
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR:
Appropriations momentum: The Senate looks set to start taking up 2012 spending bills on Thursday, with the Agriculture, Commerce and Transportation bills all on tap and woven together as a mini-bus of sorts. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sounded enthusiastic about moving the bills on Wednesday, as he has long been worried that his party would be unable to support one huge omnibus package.
The movement on the three bills could also give the GOP negotiating leverage when riders on the environmental and labor bills step to the forefront. When that happens, Democrats will no longer be able to say the entire government faces a shutdown if the less controversial bills are already in effect.
Rain or shine: House Republicans will continue their push on Thursday to give the U.S. Postal Service a full makeover, with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee scheduled to mark up a measure that could lead to local branch closures and wide delivery changes.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and officials in both parties and chambers are working furiously to overhaul the agency, which posted a net loss of $10 billion in the recently ended fiscal 2011. But while lawmakers have pledged to work together to get USPS on more steady footing, policymakers still have wide gaps to bridge to reach an agreement.
Mark-up mayhem: The House Ways and Means Committee gets its red pen out on Thursday to consider a pair of tax measures — one to repeal a requirement that most governments withhold 3 percent of payments to contractors, and another that would essentially reduce the number of people eligible for Medicaid.
As it happens, the health bill raises $13 billion, while it would cost around $11 billion to scrap the contractor measure — leading to speculation that the former could be used to offset the latter.
But some Democrats on board with the contractor bill aren’t so sure about the health proposal, and a Ways and Means spokeswoman said a pay-for decision is still to come.
Fee fury: Bank of America has not won many friends in announcing its new $5 monthly fee on debit card users. And it doesn't look like Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) will be helping to change that dynamic.
Welch and other House Democrats are holding a press conference tomorrow morning on that new fee and others in the works from the banking industry. While banks blame Congress for forcing their hand with new caps on traditional debit card fees, it's unlikely Welch, who led the House effort to create those caps, will be convinced.
Eyeing Iran: The Senate Banking Committee will hear on Thursday from top administration officials from the Commerce, State and Treasury departments about new potential economic sanctions against Iran.
Believe it or not, the hearing was actually on the docket before government officials announced Wednesday that they had broken up an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's U.S. ambassador with the help of Mexican drug cartels. But it’s probably fair to say the hearing feels a little more timely now.
Housing huddle: A pair of House Financial Services subcommittees will be busy tomorrow hashing out the housing market.
In the morning, one panel will hear from housing and finance experts about how the nation's housing market can function on the scale of the global market. And in the afternoon, a separate subcommittee will gather to discuss ways to overhaul the Section 8 housing voucher program, which offers rent assistance to low-income households.
Repat repartee: Pro- and anti-repatriation forces alike are set to discuss a proposed corporate tax holiday on Thursday, with Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and other House Republican freshmen talking up their support in a morning conference call.
On the other side of the argument, Edward Kleinbard, a former chief of staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation, will lay out the case against giving corporations a temporary tax break on offshore profits.
Forecast says...: The International Monetary Fund will have the chance to talk about something not tied to the European debt crisis tomorrow, as it releases its fall outlook for the Asia Pacific region.
– The Labor Department will release its weekly data on initial unemployment claims.
– The Commerce Department will provide new monthly data on international trade in goods and services.
– Freddie Mac will release its weekly survey on fixed-rate mortgages.
One in four: That’s the number of millionaires whose federal tax bill is a lower percentage of their income than middle-class families', The Washington Post reports.
Bill of the day: Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has a new measure that would make hunters who donate parts of their kill to charity eligible for tax deductions.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
On the Money’s Wednesday:
— Federal Reserve: We’ve got to communicate better.
— House pair targets the Durbin Amendment.
— Kent Conrad, Jeff Sessions still hashing out budget reforms.
— Republicans and Democrats clash (again) over NLRB.
— Chamber: Fog around Volcker Rule “thicker than pea soup.”
— John Thune unveils his own “Buffett Rule.”
— Blue Dog Democrats push for repatriation holiday.
— House Republicans break out USPS video.
— Jeff Flake wants omnibus amendments.
— Business groups want tax reform to help businesses.
— Poll: Americans give Obama jobs plan a thumb’s up.
— And mortgage applications rise.
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