This week: Congress breaks ground on housing reform


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In other Senate business, a compromise deal to lower student loan interest rates should get an early floor vote. A final agreement could make its way quickly to President Obama’s desk for a signature, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has noted its similarities to the House proposal.

The Senate is also likely to move quickly this week through the confirmation process for Obama’s two new nominees to join the National Labor Relations Board. The president made new picks as part of a deal to avoid the “nuclear option,” and senators are promising an expedited consideration of the pair.

Congressional appropriators will be busy on both sides of the Capitol as lawmakers begin to tackle several spending packages.

The Senate will be working to move a spending bill for transportation and housing on the floor. And on Tuesday, Senate appropriators will be marking up two bills, one to allocate funds for financial services and general government, and another for state and foreign operations.

House appropriators will be marking up a spending package for environmental purposes and the Department of the Interior on Tuesday, and then move the following day to a State and foreign operations bill. The House is set to take up its own appropriations bills on the floor as well, devoted to Transportation/Housing and Defense.

Behind the scenes, a House GOP working group will meet early in the week to try to get beyond an impasse on food stamp reform. Republicans hope to pass a food stamp measure before going to conference with the Senate on the farm bill.

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will consider a new bill reforming the Postal Service from Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Lawmakers were unable to finish up a reform package for the ailing mail service in the last Congress.

Congress’s Joint Economic Committee will gather Wednesday to discuss the nation’s aging infrastructure, with former Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) among those testifying.

The House Agriculture Committee will be diving into commodities law this week as it devotes two days to discussing the reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The panel will hear from CFTC commissioners for their take on Tuesday, followed by a Wednesday discussion on the regulator from the perspective of commodity end users.

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, will discuss trade issues at the Peterson Institute on Tuesday. And Vice President Biden is heading to Singapore and India this week, where trade and economic issues will be on the docket.