Broadband plan, NASA dominate exceptionally busy week of tech on the Hill

Congressional lawmakers this week will field the first testimony on the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan, released last Tuesday.

The brewing feud between Google and China over Web access, and the ongoing fight between the White House and lawmakers over NASA funding, will also dominate committee hearings during what already seems to be a busy week for members of Congress.

The Senate Commerce Committee will take the first stab at the National Broadband Plan on Tuesday. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will offer testimony about the proposal, some of which will require congressional action to become permanent. When: Tuesday, March 23, 2:30p.m.; Where: Russell 253

Meanwhile, the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities will hold a hearing on the 2011 defense budget, specifically authorization for the Defense Department's Science and Technology Programs. Joining lawmakers will be Zachary Lemnios, the director of Defense Research and Engineering, as well as a host of top Pentagon officials with oversight over the military's technology programs. When: Tuesday, March 23, 2:30p.m.; Where: HVC 210

NASA funding is the subject of a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, also scheduled Tuesday. Agency Administrator Charles Bolden will defend the White House's decision to shift the NASA budget to focus more on research, at the expense of NASA's manned Constellation spaceflight program. However, that proposed budget has stirred serious opposition among congressional lawmakers, especially those who represent states in which NASA has key bases. That sentiment is sure to be on display this week. When: Tuesday, March 23, 2 p.m.; Where: Rayburn 2359

Also Tuesday, the House Committee on Science and Technology will examine the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a program within the Commerce Department that handles tech research dollars and sets standards on innumerable private and public tech systems. When: Tuesday, March 23, 10-12pm; Where: Rayburn 2318

NASA chiefs will again testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday, when the House Science and Technology Committee examines the impact of the White House's budget changes on the agency's future spaceflight programs (Rayburn 2318). Meanwhile, federal officials will join the House Oversight Committee for a 2 p.m. hearing on federal information security (Rayburn 2154).

But most eyes Wednesday will be on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which will field testimony on the ongoing dispute between Google and China. "Witnesses will examine the challenges and hazards China's regulation of the Internet poses both to advocates of free expression and to foreign companies doing business in China," according to the committee, which has rescheduled the hearing twice this year. Among those offering views Wednesday will be Alan Davidson, director of U.S. Public Policy for Google. When: Wednesday, March 24, 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.; Where: Dirksen 628.

Thursday will also prove busy for federal lawmakers. The day begins with a second hearing on the National Broadband Plan, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee (10 a.m., Rayburn 2123) and a third hearing on NASA funding, before the Senate Appropriations Committee (10 a.m., Dirksen 192). Later in the day, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on 2011 funding for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- a session that is likely to include intense discussion about reform to U.S. patent laws (2 p.m., H309).