By Vicki Needham - 03/25/14 07:03 PM EDT
WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORY:
Ukraine shift: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that Democrats will jettison provisions from a Ukraine aid package calling for International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms.
The change is designed to speed up passage of the legislation, which will probably come Thursday but will likely remain in the spotlight through Wednesday.
The House and Senate differed on the language in their bills, holding up the measure aimed at helping Ukraine while punishing Russia for its recent annexation of Crimea.
The White House had been pushing for the IMF reforms, arguing that it would allow the agency to shift $63 billion into a general pool that would make it easier to access to provide assistance. The changes also would finally ratify a 2010 agreement that would give burgeoning global economies more say within the organization. The U.S. is the only country that hasn't finalized the deal.
Once the Senate moves the measure, Reid expects the bill to get through the House and provide $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.
WHAT ELSE WE’RE WATCHING
Let’s go budgeting: Budget talks continue on Wednesday spanning several committees that will include chats with FBI Director James Comey over his agency’s budget, along with changes made since Sept. 11, 2001.
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also will testify before House appropriators about his bottom line.
Meanwhile, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will take a close look at the fiscal 2015 budget request for the Labor Department with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.
On the Senate side, an appropriations subcommittee will talk to Interior Department officials, including Secretary Sally Jewell, about her agency’s budget, while other subpanels sit down with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy about their agencies' budgets.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said Tuesday that she is aiming to start full committee markups before the Memorial Day recess with the goal of working through the 12 spending bills before the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, which nearly always proves a difficult task.
Document dump: John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, will testify Wednesday about the IRS’s response to providing documents for congressional investigations of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups controversy.
He will testify before the House Oversight Committee, where there has been plenty of tension between Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), over the panel's investigation.
Closer look: The Senate Banking Committee will hold a subcommittee hearing Wednesday on how well alternative financial products are working for consumers with various industry and academic experts.
EU meet and greet: President Obama arrived in Brussels on Tuesday in preparation of several meetings on Wednesday with European Union leaders, including NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. From there he heads to Rome, where he is expected to meet with Pope Francis.
Another delay: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would bring up a bipartisan measure that would renew long-term unemployment benefits as soon as the Senate passes Ukraine legislation and sends it to the House, which means the bill could get pushed to next week.
"I’m going to start unemployment right on the tail of Ukraine," Reid said Tuesday.
MBA Mortgage Index: The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly report on mortgage application volume.
Durable orders: The Department of Commerce releases its February report measuring the dollar volume of orders, shipments and unfilled orders of durable goods, which are goods intended to last three or more years. Orders are considered a leading indicator of manufacturing activity, and the market often moves on this report despite the volatility and large revisions that make it a less than perfect indicator.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Trumka expresses hope for eventually brokering trade deals
— Fed study: Big banks enjoy 'too big to fail' perks
— IRS moves to tax bitcoins
— Consumer confidence rebounds to six-year high
— Rubio supports Ukraine bill despite IMF reform
— Home prices fall in January but continue double-digit yearly gains
— Boehner: No boost to defense spending
— Boehner: Senate jobless aid plan unworkable
— New homes sales stall out amid cold weather in February
— Reid: Russia looks ‘foolish’ after Crimea
— Biofuel groups push for renewal of tax credits
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