This week: It's not only about taxes and spending cuts on Capitol Hill

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The Joint Economic Committee will get in on the debate Thursday, hearing from economic experts on the expected impact that the cliff’s tax increases and spending cuts will have on the ongoing economic recovery.

Haggling over a five-year farm bill will also continue, as some members push to get it done in the lame duck.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) told The Hill Friday that no member meetings are currently scheduled, but after a Thursday meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the measure has new momentum.

“We’re just a cog in the big machine,” said Lucas, referring to the role of the farm bill in the fiscal cliff talks.

The bill emerging from Lucas’s committee cuts some $35 billion from the deficit over 10 years, making it a juicy target for leaders as they scramble to replace $109 billion in automatic discretionary cuts slated for January as part of the fiscal cliff.

A bill that would grant permanent normal trade relations to Russia is in the mix for possible Senate floor consideration this week. 

The measure, which was passed by the House on Nov. 16, would repeal the obsolete 1974 Jackson-Vanik law and clamp down on human rights violations in Russia.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who authored a broader human rights measure that he wants included in the bill, told The Hill it was unclear whether the bill would come up next week.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will testify before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the response and recovery to Superstorm Sandy. Lawmakers from New York and New Jersey are pushing the White House to request an extra $80 billion in disaster relief, which would not be offset by accompanying spending cuts. GOP leaders have yet to weigh in on the idea.

Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will discuss the storm’s impact on the Northeast’s transportation systems Thursday morning.

That same day, the Senate Banking Committee will hear from the HUD secretary on the dire financial situation of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The government lender is facing billions of dollars in losses, suffering from a slew of mortgages gone bad from the housing crash. The FHA has not yet requested government assistance in addressing the losses, but lawmakers are on high alert for another potential bailout.

A House Financial Services subcommittee will spend Thursday weighing what the effects of new regulations on financial derivatives will be on the nation’s economy and financial markets. Those complex financial tools came under heightened scrutiny following the financial crisis, and are subject to increased oversight and regulation thanks to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.