This week: Payroll tax cut, insider trading head up Congress's money issues

Speaking of conference committees, the one devoted to a payroll tax break extension will be continuing its work. With many around Capitol Hill expecting the tough negotiations to occur behind closed doors, panel members on both sides of the aisle have said they tentatively expect to meet three times during the week.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the panel’s chairman, would only tell reporters last week that he has asked conferees to hold their calendars for this week, with the first meeting to come Tuesday. So far, meetings of the 20-member panel have been largely civil, but major issues still linger.
The bicameral Joint Economic Committee will gather to discuss that particular cut, as well as the extension of unemployment benefits wrapped up in that extension, on Tuesday with economists.
That same day, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will appear before the Senate Budget Committee to discuss the future of the economy. Making a similar appearance before the House Budget Committee last Thursday, Bernanke told lawmakers that the recovery still had a long way to go, an assertion backed up by the Fed’s recent decision to keep interest rates low through the end of 2014. He also faced tough questions from GOP lawmakers who worried he was prioritizing boosting employment over controlling inflation.
The Senate panel will spend Thursday discussing income inequality and mobility among economic classes with a group of economists.
The Senate Banking Committee will devote a hearing Thursday to the continued woes of the housing market, which are weighing down the economic recovery. Housing experts and economists will be on hand to discuss the challenges that market faces, and possible ways to address them.
The House Ways and Means Committee will continue its discussion of tax reform, even as the payroll tax conference committee goes forward. The panel is scheduled to hold a Wednesday hearing to discuss how policymakers should keep the interplay between tax policy and financial accounting rules during the push to overhaul the tax code.
On Wednesday, a House Financial Services subcommittee will debate legislation that would change the operations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Ever since the new agency was created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, it has been at the center of a partisan fight, as Republicans argue the agency is too powerful and lacks oversight. GOP lawmakers will be pushing bills to address those concerns at the hearing, but those bills face long odds of becoming law.
At the House Appropriations Committee, lawmakers will be discussing the budgets of Capitol Hill’s infrastructure in three separate hearings running from Tuesday to Thursday.
First on the docket are the budgets for the Library of Congress, U.S. Government and Accountability Office, Government Printing Office and Congressional Budget Office. That will be followed by hearings on budgets for the United States Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol.