This week: In addition to cliff, Bernanke and hearings to dominate

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Amid the ongoing statements, posturing and closed-door meetings on the fiscal cliff, Congress has set up another slate of hearings.

On Thursday, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will continue to debate the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, as lawmakers and the White House prepare a legislative package providing aid to areas in the Northeast affected by the massive storm.

Subcommittees on the House Agriculture and Financial Services committees will spend portions of the week diving into new rules on derivatives mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The financial panel will first take a crack at the measure Wednesday, grilling regulators and market experts. The farm panel will follow up with its own version Thursday.

That same day, another Financial Services subcommittee will be dissecting the “Volcker Rule,” a Dodd-Frank provision aimed at curbing risky profit-seeking trades by insured banks. Regulators are still working to implement the rule, which has come under heavy fire from the industry and Republicans. 

The Senate Finance Committee will spend Wednesday discussing ways to promote energy efficiency through reforms to the tax code, and Thursday will look at how to improve the healthcare for beneficiaries that use both Medicare and Medicaid.

On Tuesday, a Senate Banking subcommittee will debate how the federal government helps people via rental housing assistance, and how it can be improved.

President Obama is also expected to sign into law a measure that would establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia sometime this week.

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