The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Michael Mukasey’s nomination for attorney general. Mukasey has suggested that the president has the authority to decline to obey the law in order “to defend the country.” What’s more, he has repeatedly refused to tell the Judiciary Committee whether he considers coercive interrogation practices such as “waterboarding” to be torture.
Congressional committees are turning their attention to the Middle East as tension rises in Pakistan. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing entitled, “Iran: Reality, Options, and Consequences.” This is the second hearing in an ongoing series of hearings on Iran.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear from Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte about democracy, authoritarianism, and terrorism in Pakistan. Two committees will hear from David Welch, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Welch will speak to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the situation in Syria and to the House Foreign Affairs Committee about Lebanon’s precarious position in the region.
Both the House and the Senate will vote on whether to override President Bush’s veto of the Water Resources Development authorization bill. Both houses passed the bill with broad bipartisan support before the president’s veto and are virtually certain to override the veto this week. If Congress overrides the veto, it will be the first successful effort to do so.
The bill provides for a broad range of construction and improvement projects to shore up water infrastructure such as improvement to levees in California, restoration in the Florida Everglades, and protection for the Gulf Coast from hurricane damage.
Representatives from the Senate and the House will meet to conference on the minibus appropriations package that includes Labor, Health; Human Services and Education; and Military Construction and Veterans’ Administration appropriations. President Bush has threatened to veto the measure.
The full House will also consider the conference report on the Defense Appropriations bill.
Energy transformation is a recurring theme in several committee hearings this week. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will examine the EPA’s failure to address global warming pollutants in its approval of new power plants. In the Senate, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will focus on whether the domestic energy industry will have an available workforce to meet the nation’s growing energy needs, and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hear from experts on the potential of carbon sequestration technologies.
The full Senate will also begin consideration of the Farm Bill. The Agriculture Committee will bring to the floor legislation that makes progress in conservation, food stamps, nutrition, and agriculturally-based renewable energy. The major weakness in the legislation is its failure to propose significant reform to the current agricultural subsidy program.
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