DOMA, Derivatives and the Ghost of Dodd-Frank


Caryn Freeman
This weeks hearing schedule will bring the activist community to the Hill, which always provides for an exciting work experience, another round of seemingly endless nomination hearings and the ghost of Dodd-Frank in Thursday’s full committee hearing from the House Committee on Agriculture. For staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday’s DOMA hearing is expected to be headline grabber for the week.
Monday (POSTPONED) the subcommittee on Agriculture and Trade was scheduled to hold a field hearing in Grand Junction Colorado Monday on Energy Regulations and Policies Limiting Energy Independence, Killing Jobs and Increasing Prices for Consumers. The hearing was set to examine the competitive and lucrative permitting and leasing process controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, the land leasing arm of the Department of the Interior. Earlier this year the Interior held a lease sale of the Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and promised to hold annual lease sales on the 23.5 million acre reserve. Republicans who are in favor of opening up oil leases in the U.S., argued that these lease sales are worthless if there is no infrastructure to get to the often remote areas where these reserves exist. “Lease sales alone are not enough. Producing oil and natural gas in the NPR-A is pointless if there’s no way to get it out of there,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), said in a statement released in June.
Tuesday on the Senate side there are three nomination hearings scheduled for assistant and deputy posts at the State, Defense and Interior Departments. The most important U.S. foreign policy hearing this week will be the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs hearing to examine U.S. policy in Yemen. This hearing will likely be an indicator of where the U.S. stands in it’s commitment in supporting countries like Yemen in the Arab spring uprisings. In January major demonstrations of over 16,000 people began simultaneously with the Egyptian revolution. By the first week in February President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he would not run for re-election in 2013. Yemen has the fourth lowest human development index ratings in the Arab world.
Wednesday the Senate Judiciary committee will hold the first Senate hearing to repeal DOMA. Witness, Ron Wallen, a 77-year-old veteran who married his partner of 55 years, Tom Carrollo in 2008 will tell Senators how DOMA legislation barred him from receiving social security survivor benefits afforded to married heterosexual couples when Carrollo died in March. This hearing could break the monotony of the week. Expect some fervent activists to show up on the Hill from both sides of the issue. Over on the House side the Energy and Commerce committee will look into FDA medical device regulation & the “Impact on American Patients, Innovation and Jobs.” This should provide some attention-grabbing testimony after the hospital wipes scandal earlier this year where the FDA admitted “weak oversight”  in response to two troublesome inspections of the Triad Group of Hartland, Wisconsin, whose tainted alcohol wipes and sterile lubricating jelly have been blamed for infections and the death of a 2-year-old child.
Thursday The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold an oversight hearing on the protection of emergency preparedness in Native communities. Testimony will evaluate gaps in authority within existing federal emergency management laws providing tribal governments with direct aid and the need to amend current law to sanction tribal government emergency declarations.  Later that day, the House committee on Agriculture will have a full committee hearing on Derivatives Reform: “The View from Main Street.” This hearing is expected to address disputes between lawmakers and the Commodities and Futures Trading commission while staffers and regulators work to clarify hundreds of rules required by Dodd-Frank.