OVERNIGHT MONEY: Bernanke's back

When it comes to the Q&A, Bernanke is going to feel pressure from Republicans unhappy with the Fed's policy who are curious about how it plans to unwind its $3 trillion portfolio. 

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GOP members could try to feel out Bernanke in terms of when the Fed might exit its stimulus, as recent minutes have shown the issue to be a topic of discussion among Fed officials themselves. 

Bernanke could also be asked to weigh in on ongoing fiscal fights in Washington, such as the pending sequester and whether it makes sense to include revenue in any attempt to replace it. Ever the pro, Bernanke will likely avoid any attempt to have him pick a side, but will underline that it is undesirable to allow those indiscriminate cuts to chip away at the government willy-nilly.


WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR 

Lew-kee here: Jack LewJack LewDems hail Dodd-Frank reforms on law's anniversary Panic prompted ObamaCare lawlessness GE Capital and the coyote’s leg MORE's bid to become the next Treasury secretary appears to be chugging along quite nicely, with the Senate Finance Committee scheduling a vote on his nomination on Tuesday. 

While the former White House chief of staff has had to answer plenty of questions from lawmakers in both parties — and felt some heat about his time in the private sector — there are next to no indications that there are obstacles in the way that could throw his nomination off course. 

Assuming Lew clears the committee, Senate Democrats are hoping to move him swiftly through the full Senate, as Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems put immigration front-and-center on convention's first day Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security Super-PAC targets Portman on trade MORE (D-Nev.) said Monday he hoped to bring the pick up for a floor vote this week, possibly as early as Wednesday.

Timothy Geithner, President Obama’s first Treasury secretary, left the post in January. Neal Wolin, who held the No. 2 spot at Treasury in Obama’s first term, has been the acting head of the department since Geithner left.

Top brass: House appropriators on the Defense subcommittee will hear on Tuesday from the nation’s top military commanders about the Pentagon's fiscal challenges. Those expecting to testify on Capitol Hill are Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert; Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos; Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III; and National Guard Bureau Chief Frank Grass.

Budgets in focus: The House Appropriations Legislative Branch subcommittee will chat with U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro about the budget for the Government Accountability Office. And speaking of budgets, several House panels — Agriculture, Financial Services and Ways and Means — will spend Tuesday putting together their budget views and estimates for fiscal 2014, which will provide guidance for Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanTrump, Clinton intelligence briefings likely to start next week Clinton maps out first 100 days Why a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform MORE (R-Wis.) in putting together his proposal. President Obama’s budget is expected to come out sometime in mid-March.

On the Senate side, the Senate Budget Committee will examine how federal investments boost people, communities and long-term economic growth with government officials, academics and think tank budget experts. 

The Senate Finance Committee will take a long-range view of the budget, looking at fiscal years 2013 to 2023 with Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of The American Action Forum, and Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office.


SEQUESTER CENTRAL 

Doing the sequestration scramble: President Obama heads down to Hampton Roads, Va., on Tuesday to talk about what will happen if Congress doesn't stop the sequester from going into effect on March 1. The discussion is pretty much all the rage in Washington right now, with top Obama administration officials arguing that letting the across-the-board spending cuts go into effect means longer security lines at airports, federal employee layoffs and even jeopardizing the nation's security. 

Republicans and Democrats have been sure to place blame on each other as the deadline for the $85 billion in spending cuts looms. 

House Republican leaders went into attack mode on Monday, accusing the president of being a “road show president.” 

“The president proposed the sequester, yet he’s far more interested in holding campaign rallies than he is in urging Senate Democrats to actually pass a plan,” Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerConservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ohio) said. 

Republicans called on him to return to Washington and devise a solution with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Reid argued on Monday that there is still time to find a fix, if the parties are prepared to work together. 

“Congress must replace these cuts — the so-called sequester — with a balanced approach to deficit reduction,” Reid said.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned that the sequester will make the United States more vulnerable to a terrorist attack, while Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the automatic budget cuts would devastate national parks.

Napolitano said it “makes it awfully, awfully tough” to mitigate threats faced by the nation.

“I don't think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester compared to without sequester,” said Napolitano, whose agency includes the Transportation Security Administration.

She also said that the spending cuts could lead to longer airport security wait times, too. 

But there are some lawmakers looking for ways to stave off the cuts set to hit the Pentagon.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) is introducing a bill that would target the $500 billion in cuts, while Rep. Randy ForbesRandy ForbesHouse GOP defense policy bill conferees named Ex-special ops group blasts Clinton email decision GOP rep faces recount in close primary race MORE (R-Va.) would do away with the defense side of sequestration altogether.

Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnThe Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him Coburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump MORE (R-Okla.) demanded that the federal government stop hiring low-priority employees to preserve essential workers.


LOOSE CHANGE

Whoa, dude: Anyone interested in getting into the medical marijuana industry might want to consider one thing before taking the plunge — an effective federal income tax rate that can get as high as the sky, about 75 percent. 

The reason for the buzz-kill policy is due to a more than 30-year-old tax law targeting drug trafficking, CNN reported on Monday. 

Packed like sardines: Anyone who has ever attended a House Appropriations hearing knows what it's like to be stuffed into a small room in the Capitol. Well, those days — maybe most of them — may be over. The Sunlight Foundation has been pressing the panel's leaders to adopt the commonly used webcast, and they are expected to get it going this week. 

So if climbing over a dozen people to get the last available seat isn't your thing, webcasting, which House Republicans stepped up in the 112th Congress, could be the answer. 

Daniel Schuman, who pressed for the change, said on Monday that the panel is set to show proceedings in that tiny room in the Capitol. 

"Whatever issues that had existed with webcasting from this room apparently have been resolved, and a new precedent has been set in favor of transparency," he said in a blog post. 


ECONOMIC INDICATORS

S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Index: Home prices may have ticked up in December in the nation's 20 largest metropolitan areas, a housing price index report could show on Tuesday. 

FHFA Housing Price Index: The Federal Housing Finance Agency will release its measure of prices for December on single-family homes.  

New Home Sales: The Commerce Department releases its January report on how many new privately owned single-family houses have been sold and are for sale. New home sales are finally beginning to pick up pace — posting their best performance last year since 2009, up nearly 20 percent over the prior year. 

Consumer Confidence: The Conference Board's monthly report could show that consumers are feeling more upbeat through February even though they have had a decrease in purchasing power from the expiration of the payroll tax cut. The report can be helpful in predicting shifts in consumer spending. 


WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Report: Eliminate Freddie, Fannie and increase private involvement in housing

— SEC plans to beef up high-speed trading regulations


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