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The Week Ahead: Last days of the 111th

Time is running out on the 111th Congress.

Lawmakers have only two full weeks to finish business (unless they decide to stay in town right up to Christmas). The two biggest items on the agenda are extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts and funding the government.

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Administration officials and lawmakers are expected to continue tax negotiations, with most observers expecting the “Gang of Six” to come up with a compromise extending them across the board for two years.

Last week, lawmakers passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded until Dec. 18. But they still have to pass a budget or another CR to fund the government through fiscal 2011. House and Senate Democrats want to push through an omnibus spending package or a CR through the end of the 2011 fiscal year to lock in spending at their desired levels. Republicans prefer a short-term extension, probably until early March, to apply spending-cut pressure next year when they’ll enjoy the House majority.

House and Senate leaders predict the DREAM Act will come up for a vote this week. The legislation allows the children of illegal immigrants who have grown up in the U.S. to acquire legal residency if they meet certain requirements.

The Senate doesn’t appear to have a definite schedule for debating the 2011 defense authorization bill, which contains a provision repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom Line Biden owes us an answer on court-packing Progressive group: Feinstein must step down as top Democrat on Judiciary panel MORE (D-Nev.) would have to bring up the bill by early next week to have time to overcome procedural hurdles, debate it and then start negotiations with the House, which already passed a defense bill including the repeal. Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Trump digs in on conspiracy theory over bin Laden raid At 97, Bob Dole is still fighting for his country MORE (R-Ariz.), who filibustered the bill when it came up earlier this year, has threatened to do so again.

On the House side, the GOP conference will hold committee chairmanship elections on Tuesday.

The first full week in December also marks the beginning of the holiday party season. The Hill’s Washington Scene has a comprehensive list of the various parties around town.

Monday, Dec. 6


President Obama travels to North Carolina to visit Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem. He will tour two biotech classrooms, meet students and speak on the economy. Remarks are expected at 12:05 p.m.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a trilateral meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara.

The Brookings Institution holds an event on "Internet Policymaking: New Guiding Principles.” Aneesh Chopra, the administration’s chief technology officer, delivers welcoming remarks. 8:30 a.m. at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

The Urban Institute holds a forum, beginning at 9 a.m., on "Children of the Undocumented: Growing Up Under a Cloud." 2100 M St. NW.

The Alliance for Health Reform holds a 12:15 p.m. briefing on the "Impact of the Economy on Health Insurance Coverage." 902 Hart.

The American Enterprise Institute holds an event at 2 p.m. on "Who's in Charge? More Legal Challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." 1150 17th St. NW.

The Center for American Progress holds a discussion, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., titled "Separate and Unequal: The Hyde Amendment as a Civil Rights Issue.” 1333 H St. NW.

Tuesday, Dec. 7

The GOP conference will meet to determine committee chairmanships. Because Republican rules contain term limits for committee heads (which include time they spent as ranking member), several lawmakers would need waivers to retain the top committee slots. Expect the battles to lead the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security committees to be fierce.

Rep. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfBottom line Africa's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-Va.) holds a 10 a.m. press conference, with other lawmakers, honoring Nobel Prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and calling on the Chinese government to improve its human-rights record. 2255 Rayburn.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) speaks at a National Press Club event at 10 a.m., on the anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, on “governing principles for U.S. national security.” 529 14th St. NW.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee meets at 2:30 p.m. for a hearing on "Catastrophic Preparedness: How Ready Is FEMA for the Next Big Disaster?" 342 Dirksen.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in one of her final acts in that office, lights the Capitol Christmas tree at 5 p.m. on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

Wednesday, Dec. 8

Obama welcomes Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski to the White House in the morning. The president will attend a Cabinet meeting in the afternoon.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) speaks at an 8:30 a.m. American Enterprise event on "Beyond 'Repeal and Replace': Ideas for Real Health Reform."

The Senate Homeland Security Committee convenes at 10 a.m. to discuss "Border Security: The Challenge of Protecting Federal Lands,” with testimony expected by Michael Fisher, chief of U.S. Border Patrol for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Location to be announced.

The House Judiciary Committee holds the second part of a hearing on "Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis” at 10 a.m. 2141 Rayburn.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is a scheduled speaker at a Judicial Watch forum on "What's Next in the Battle against Illegal Immigration." 2 p.m. at the National Press Club.

Subcommittees of the Senate Banking and Homeland Security panels hold a joint hearing at 2 p.m. on "Examining the Efficiency, Stability and Integrity of the U.S. Capital Markets." Among those scheduled to testify: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler. 538 Dirksen.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies opens its three-day annual forum on the topic: “Countering the Iranian Threat.” Among the speakers: former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.). Opening reception is at 5:30 p.m. Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd St. NW.

Thursday, Dec. 9

The American Council on Renewable Energy holds a forum. Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke deliver keynote remarks, beginning at noon. 345 Cannon.

The first family attends the National Christmas Tree lighting at 5 p.m. on the Ellipse. Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles and B.B. King are scheduled to perform.

Friday, Dec. 10

The CEO of General Motors, Daniel Akerson, addresses the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on "GM: New Company for a New World.” Breakfast begins at 8:15 a.m. at the Ritz-Carlton.


Russell Berman, Ben Geman, Mike Lillis, Vicki Needham and Roxana Tiron contributed.