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Monday, February 27, 2012 - 11:41

US Congresswatch: Bernanke To Give Mon Pol Testimony To Hill

--Fed Chief To Testify Wednesday and Thursday Before Hill Panels
--Fed's Bernanke Expected To Get Questions on Oil, Econ--and Mon Policy
--Senate Banking Panel To Hold Hearing With HUD Chief on Housing
--House, Senate Budget Panels To Hear From Panetta on Defense Budget

WASHINGTON (MNI) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will present his semi-annual monetary policy testimony to Capitol Hill this week.

Bernanke will testify before the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. ET and before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

Bernanke's scheduled topic is the Fed's semi-annual monetary report to Congress and lawmakers are expected to ask Bernanke about monetary policy.

But there are also certain to be questions about fiscal policy, the status of the nation's economic recovery, the impact of rising gas prices, and the debt crisis in Europe.

The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. on the state of the housing market. Shaun Donovan, the secretary of HUD, will testify as will Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke and Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Both the House and Senate Budget Committees will hold hearings this week on President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will testify Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. before the Senate Budget Committee and Wednesday at 2 p.m. before the House Budget panel.

Panetta's appearances will take on special significance because many lawmakers, especially Republicans, believe the across-the-board spending cuts that are set to begin in January of 2013 will hit defense too deeply. Some lawmakers are likely to press Panetta to support an overhaul of the so-called sequestration process.

A House Financial Services subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday at 9:30 a.m. on allowing interest payments on corporate checking account balances.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday at 10 a.m. on U.S. trade policy. Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, will testify.

The Senate is expected to spent much of the week working on a highway transportation bill. The House will work on legislation related to the repeal of regulation of for-profit colleges.

Now that President Obama has released his fiscal year 2013 budget, Congress' budget, tax, and appropriations committees will continue to hold hearings on budget issues.

The House and Senate Budget Committees are expected to work on their respective FY'13 budget resolutions in March.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is likely to offer a variation of the fiscal plan he offered last year. It's unclear if Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad will offer a budget this year. Last year, Conrad wrote a budget late in the spring, but it was never considered by his committee let alone the full Senate.

Last year's debt ceiling agreement set discretionary spending caps for FY'13, so there is no immediate need for a budget resolution this year.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: (202) 371-2121 **


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