By Peter Schroeder and Vicki Needham - 07/29/13 12:08 PM EDT
Amid the flurry of major indicators, the Federal Reserve will be huddling yet again to set the course of the nation’s monetary policy. The central bank will release an updated policy statement on Wednesday, with most expecting the Fed to stay the course with near-zero interest rates and $85 billion in monthly bond purchases to keep the economy afloat.
But the wording of the statement will be closely dissected, as Fed officials have begun talking about how they eventually could wind down the extreme stimulus that has been in place since the financial crash.
The language of the statement on that point will be crucial, especially since there is no press conference from Chairman Ben Bernanke this time around.
The Senate might move this week to take up the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt faces opposition from Senate Republicans, but could get some floor time before the August recess.
The Senate will also try to pass the first of its annual appropriations bills for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. The transportation bill got six GOP votes in committee, but it is not yet clear whether the bill will get those same votes on the floor.
The House is scheduled to take up the $44.1 billion spending bill for the transportation-housing departments this week.
On Monday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will head to Philadelphia to talk about their plans to overhaul the nation's tax code, which is expected to get rolling this fall.
To that end, Camp will sit down on Wednesday with Democrats on his committee to discuss the next steps on the tax reform front.
The Joint Economic Committee will veer into the comprehensive tax reform debate on Wednesday. Specifically, the bicameral panel will be exploring how an overhaul of the tax code could boost the nation’s economy.
That same day, the Senate Finance Committee will discuss a smaller piece of the tax reform puzzle, with a subcommittee conversation about how the energy sector should be treated in an overhaul.
The House and Senate budget panels both have hearings slated for this week. The House committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the nation’s progress in combating poverty, while the Senate group will huddle Tuesday to discuss efforts to contain health care costs.
The full House Ways and Means Committee will dive into ObamaCare on Thursday to examine its oft-delayed implementation.
After a busy stretch of markups, things slow down a touch for appropriators, at least at the committee level. House appropriators have no events on tap before the recess, while the Senate committee is set to mark up spending for the Defense Department Tuesday.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will mark up a bipartisan measure on Wednesday that would reauthorize expired worker training programs.
On Thursday, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will take a look at the opportunities and outlook for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which heads into its 19th round of negotiations next month. President Obama and other top leaders have renewed calls to complete the agreement this year.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman heads over to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to discuss the next steps in the nation's trade agenda, which includes talks on expanding trade through the Pacific Rim and Europe and congressional action on fast-track authority.
The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday will sit down with the nation's top regulators to discuss ways to reduce risk in the financial system with Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White and Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
On Wednesday, the Senate Banking Committee will mark up a plan to reform the Federal Housing Administration. The top Democrat and Republican have already signed off on the deal, so expect quick passage, setting the stage for broader housing finance reform from the committee in the future.
Also off the Hill on Tuesday, newly reconfirmed Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg will deliver remarks at the Center for American Progress on economic competitiveness and challenges faced by U.S. exporters.