By Vicki Needham - 12/02/13 07:06 PM EST
TUESDAY'S BIG STORY:
Global focus: President Obama is set to meet on Tuesday with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos while Vice President Biden meets with top officials in Japan.
Santos, who is making his second trip to Washington since being elected in 2010, will make the rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with Obama, congressional and U.S. business leaders as well as members of the Colombian-American communities.
Santos, a Harvard-educated president, said on Monday that he remains cautiously optimistic about the year-old peace talks with Marxist FARC rebels, which are taking place in Cuba.
"I think the conditions are there," Santos said about the parties concluding talks during a speech at the University of Miami. "Things are moving hopefully in the correct direction."
In the past, Santos said, his visit might have been focused on military aid, but now, in a changing environment, the leaders will discuss ways to bolster the Colombian economy that include improving education and technology, as well as regional security.
"We are now being respected internationally," Santos said.
Santos recently announced that he will run for reelection in May.
Biden, who is on a six-day swing through the Asia-Pacific region this week, will sit down in Tokyo with top officials, including Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, about top economic issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal involving 10 other nations besides the U.S. and Japan, that leaders hope to complete at the next round of talks.
The next round of talks begin later this week in Singapore.
Biden also will meet with women at a technology company in Tokyo to discuss their role in the Japanese economy and challenges they face in the workplace.
The trip is designed to "reaffirm our enduring presence as a Pacific power, promote our economic and trade interests, and underscore our commitment to rebalancing U.S. foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific," the White House said.
WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING
Federal projects: A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee will chat on Tuesday about the costs and procurement methods used to ink contracts for the design and construction of federal facilities.
As a way to save money, many agencies competitively procure the engineering and construction of projects at the same time in a design-build contract, which the committee argues hurts small businesses and taxpayers by limiting the number of firms that can afford to compete for projects.
There is legislation that would require a two-step process for those contracts at or over $750,000, which is designed to spur more competition and save money.
Small business regs: A House Small Business subcommittee on Tuesday will talk to credit unions and small banks about what federal regulations are putting a burden on small financial institutions.
Bankruptcy code: A House Judiciary Committee subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday about the bankruptcy code and insolvencies at financial institutions.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Chamber urges overhaul of economic crisis panel
— Bill would nearly double federal gasoline tax
— Supreme Court won't hear Amazon case
— SEC backs off corporate giving regs
— Manufacturing expands at the fastest pace since April 2011
— Virginia breaks with IRS on same-sex marriage
— Retail sales dip over Thanksgiving weekend
— Obama deal boosts trade with Iran
— House lines up year-end blitz
— Mailers fight against postal rate hike
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