This week: Lew on the hot seat

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Budget committees in both chambers will take a hard look this week at the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) annual outlook, which was released on Tuesday.

The CBO analysis anticipates the federal budget deficit will fall to $845 billion in 2013 but gradually return to more than $1 trillion per year later this decade. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf will go through the numbers with the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday and follow that up with an appearance before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee will dig in further on the troubled finances of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). This time, lawmakers will be discussing an independent report released earlier in November that found the FHA is facing a $16.3 billion loss on its portfolio of home mortgages, raising concern the agency could need a government bailout.

Also on Wednesday, the House Education and Workforce Committee will discuss what a recent court ruling invalidating a trio of recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) means for the workforce.

With the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester set to take effect on March 1, the Senate Armed Services Committee will explore Tuesday what impact the across-the-board cuts to discretionary and defense spending would mean.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will also get into the conversation about the sequester at a Thursday hearing with top officials from the Office of Management and Budget, as well as the Departments of Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Defense.

As tax writers in Congress search for a path forward on comprehensive reform, the House Ways and Means Committee will convene a hearing Thursday to explore how charitable deductions could be impacted by a tax code makeover.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate Banking Committee has invited the nation’s top regulators to testify Thursday on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. More than two and a half years since the law’s enactment, regulators are still writing rules and putting it into action.