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Iraq

The Iraq war will dominate Congress this week as General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testify in both the House and the Senate about the situation in Iraq. They will appear before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees on Tuesday and the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees on Wednesday.

The Senate Armed Services committee will hold a hearing on Thursday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen focusing on the future U.S. military presence in Iraq.

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Housing

A vote to end debate in the Senate on the Foreclosure Prevention Act, S. 2636, is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The Senate will vote on a number of amendments to the bill, including one to extend $6 billion in renewable energy tax credits. If adopted, the amendment faces opposition in the House because it violates PAYGO rules.

The House Financial Services Committee will hold hearings on Wednesday and Thursday about "Using the FHA for Housing Stabilization and Homeownership Retention."

The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on “Turmoil in U.S. Credit Markets: Examining Proposals to Mitigate Foreclosures and Restore Liquidity to the Mortgage Markets.”

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Trade

President Bush is expected to send the Colombian Free-Trade Agreement to the House for approval on Monday. The agreement faces strict scrutiny from many members in the House and has not gained the approval of Democratic leaders. The White House has stressed that they still want to negotiate with congressional leadership and that submitting the deal now is the only way to ensure it is on the calendar this year. Under trade negotiation rules, Congress must act within 90 days of the trade deal’s submission.

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Conference Negotiations

Conference committees continue to work on the Farm Bill and the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. House leadership has set a deadline of April 18 to wrap up negotiations on the budget so that it can come to the floor the following week.

Also on April 18, the temporary extension of the Farm Bill expires. Conferees from the House have not officially been named, but staff-level negotiations continue. Congressional representatives and Bush administration officials are also continuing their negotiations on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act overhaul, with the White House possibly showing signs that it is more willing to compromise on a bipartisan agreement.

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