OVERNIGHT MONEY: Congress readies transportation, student loans and flood bills

Two Democratic senators warned on Wednesday that bipartisan support for flood insurance and transportation legislation could evaporate if the two bills are combined in a deal between the parties.

Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) expressed concerns that the final version of the bill reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program might require those who live behind or near flood levees to buy flood insurance. 

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Pryor and Durbin say people who already pay taxes to maintain the levees should not also be required to buy flood insurance.

So, there's that.

Lawmakers were ironing out final details on Wednesday, including the process by which the bills would move. 

The details of the transportation agreement that emerged on Wednesday suggest lawmakers will approve 28 months of transportation funding at levels close to the Senate's original proposal of spending approximately $54 billion a year on road and transit projects.

That means they will avoid a 10th extension of the transportation funding bill that was initially set to expire in 2009.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the main Senate sponsor of the transportation bill, said the measure would protect or create 3 million jobs, which are much needed in the construction sector. 

Besides legislative work in the Capitol, Thursday is already expected to be a bit chaotic with the expected Supreme Court ruling on healthcare reform and a contempt vote on Attorney General Eric Holder scheduled in the House. 


WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR

Jobs assessment: A House Oversight subcommittee will be grilling Mary Schapiro, chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), on how her agency is going about implementing the JOBS Act passed by Congress and signed by the president in April. The bill primarily makes it easier for small companies to line up capital by being exempted from a number of regulatory requirements. Although Schapiro expressed concern about those changes before the bill became law, it is now her job to implement it, and lawmakers want to know how that's coming along.

Assessing appraisals: A House Financial Services subcommittee is going to spend Thursday morning taking a long, hard look at how the appraisal industry is affecting consumers. Later, a separate subcommittee headed by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), will look at the economic and monetary impact of "fractional reserve banking," the practice in which banks hold just a fraction of its deposits in cash while lending with the rest.

Take the weekend off: The American public is on board with the Postal Service dropping Saturday delivery, according to a new poll from The New York Times and CBS News.

Around seven in 10 think it’d be OK if USPS, which is bleeding red ink, went to five-day delivery to save money, the poll found.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has lobbied hard for that switch, which would be possible both under a Senate-passed postal reform bill and the measure the House could vote on before August.

But postal unions, some liberal lawmakers and business groups have panned the idea, saying USPS would merely be giving up one of its competitive advantages.


LOOSE CHANGE

Moving on: Robert Zoellick, who is wrapping up a five-year term as president of the World Bank, is slated to join the Peterson Institute for International Economics as its first distinguished visiting fellow after June 30. 

“We are delighted that Bob Zoellick will be joining the Peterson Institute in this distinguished capacity,” said Fred Bergsten, director of the institute. “No one on the world scene is more committed to the goals of improving global prosperity and international cooperation, and enhancing economic globalization that is both open and fair goals that we at the Institute have long shared."


ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product: The Commerce Department will release its third measure of the nation's economic activity for the first quarter. Last month, figures showed that the economy expanded at an annual rate of 1.9 percent from January to March, slower than the initial estimate of 2.2 percent, as consumer spending slowed, businesses pulled back on adding inventory and the trade deficit widened despite an increase in exports.  

Initial Claims: The Department of Labor releases its weekly filings for jobless benefits, which have started to tick down again, although slowly. 

Mortgage Rates: Freddie Mac releases weekly data on fixed-rate mortgages, which have hit historic lows in recent weeks.


WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Ron Paul’s audit-the-Fed bill advances
SEC files fraud charges against hedge fund, LightSquared backer
— House Democrats press for details on Asia-Pacific trade deal
Issa asks to observe Asia-Pacific trade pact talks
— US trade officials request dispute panel
— Senators press Burma nominee on energy sanctions
— Senators demand info on Wall Street's use of political intelligence
Barclays settles charges it conspired to manipulate interest rates
— IRS watchdog: ‘Fiscal cliff’ imperils 2013 filing season
— Pending home sales bounce back in May
— In unanimous vote, House Budget calls for answers on cuts
— Corporate coalition to Congress: Get moving with tax reform
— Top White House budget spokesman leaving
— House prepares DOD, Financial Services appropriations bills for 2013


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