This week: Race to the finish on payroll tax, omnibus

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On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will look to crack down on insider trading by members of Congress, as they consider legislation prohibiting the practice. Momentum behind efforts to prohibit the practice gained major steam after a “60 Minutes” report suggested several high-ranking members might have profited from private information obtained on Capitol Hill.

A similar markup on insider trading legislation had been scheduled at the House Financial Services Committee, but was postponed indefinitely after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor intervened (R-Va.).

Jon Corzine, the former New Jersey governor and U.S. senator who saw his financial firm go bankrupt, will be back on Capitol Hill for another round of tough questions. The Democrat was grilled by the House Agriculture Committee for hours last Thursday about the collapse of MF Global, and the more than a billion dollars in customer funds that have gone missing in the aftermath.

Corzine told lawmakers he has no idea where the money went, and is expected to repeat that mantra before the Senate Agriculture Committee and a House Financial Services subcommittee on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Both panels have also issued subpoenas compelling him to appear.

On Tuesday, the Senate Banking Committee will hold a second hearing devoted to oversight of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The FHFA has come under fire recently for signing off on millions in bonuses for top executives, even though the mortgage giants are being kept afloat by taxpayer funds. Steve Linick, the inspector general for the FHFA, is slated to testify.

But before that hearing, the panel will vote on a handful of Obama nominees. Senators will consider the nominations of Carol Galante and Maurice Jones, who have both have been nominated to serve as top officials in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Thomas Hoenig, a former Federal Reserve governor tapped to serve as vice chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The Federal Reserve’s policy-setting arm will also convene on Tuesday. The Fed recently cut the rate it charged for exchanging dollars for foreign currency in a bid to boost troubled European banks. And the central bank is still rolling out a portfolio reorientation aimed at further lowering interest rates, dubbed “Operation Twist.” Markets, as always, will be watching.

On Thursday, Commerce Secretary John Bryson will make his first major address in that capacity before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he lay out his vision for the department’s agenda. Bryson was sworn into the position in October, after the Senate unanimously confirmed him.