This week: Sequestration begins as Congress returns

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The House will move a spending bill at the current $1.043 trillion topline spending number. It leaves the sequestration untouched but includes full-year appropriations for defense spending, as well as for military construction and the Veterans Affairs Department. Including these measures gives the relevant departments updated blueprints from which to apply the automatic cuts.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) informed President Obama on Friday of his plan and Obama told reporters if that topline number is respected, he will support the plan to avert a shutdown.

Congressional haggling will attract plenty of attention, but a major piece of economic data will draw headlines as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its February jobs report Friday, which could add fuel to the fire on Capitol Hill. Private jobs numbers from ADP out Wednesday will help set expectations.

The Senate Budget Committee will convene Tuesday to discuss how lawmakers could tackle the deficit by simplifying the tax code. The hearing will give Democrats another chance to hammer on the need for increased revenue from the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers as they fight to address the national debt in a way that does not just involve spending cuts.

On Wednesday, the Fed will release its beige book, which details what central bank officials are hearing anecdotally from business contacts about the state of the economy. Economic data showed the economy grew just barely at the end of 2012, and the latest version of this document could help flesh out exactly how concerns over sequestration could be playing out nationwide.

House appropriators will be diving into their work this week, when subcommittees have a host of hearings lined up. Lawmakers will be probing the budgets of the Treasury, Energy and Commerce departments among others, and will be discussing funding levels for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the Architect of the Capitol.

On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee will bring in top officials from the Treasury Department, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve to discuss how regulators are cracking down on bank money laundering. In recent years, several major international banks have had to shell out over $5 billion for violating bank secrecy and anti-money-laundering laws, and some critics have argued regulators are not doing enough to punish the practice.

The 16th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations will begin on Monday in Singapore.

The 11 nations are aiming to complete a deal sometime this year. Japan has shown interest in joining the talks but its government hasn't made a decision yet. That could come next week.

Still, the nations already involved in the talks would have to approve Japan’s entry.