Finance Committee to Hold Hearing on Deficit Caps

The suddenly “white-hot issue of deficit caps — now a central front in the battle over raising the debt ceiling — will be the subject of a hearing Wednesday in the Senate Finance Committee,” Roll Call reports.

Panel Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced the hearing on the issue Thursday morning. It will include testimony from former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), who was part of the bipartisan Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction plan in the 1980s.

Baucus has said he backs the idea of a deficit cap as part of a plan to increase the federal debt ceiling. Republicans generally want spending caps instead, although they also are pushing for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

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Schumer Says Dealing with China Currency Issue an ‘Economic Imperative’

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says “lawmakers should act on legislation retaliating against Beijing’s alleged currency manipulation,” the AFP reports.

"Confronting this issue is an economic imperative," Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement that noted he met last week with People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan.

"I am more convinced than ever that legislation is needed to force countries like China that manipulate their currencies to play by the rules and let their currencies freely float," said Schumer.

US lawmakers charge Beijing keeps its currency — and thereby its exports — artificially cheap, hurting their US competitors at a time of deep US worries about historically high unemployment.

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McConnell Says Senate Will Vote on President’s Budget

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced in a press release statement today that the Senate “will vote on the budget President Obama submitted to Congress in February.”

“I understand that the Majority Leader would like to have a vote on the House-passed Ryan budget and we will,” McConnell said. “But we’ll have a vote on the President’s budget at the same time. Since there is no Democrat budget in the Senate, we’ll give our colleagues an opportunity to stand with the President in failing to address the problems facing our nation while calling for trillions in new spending, massive new debt and higher taxes on American energy, families and small businesses across the country.”

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Manchin Introduces the Jobs Score Act

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Jobs Score Act today, according to a press release from his office.

His bill would require the “Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine the number of jobs that would be created, protected, or lost should a specific piece of legislation become law – so lawmakers can take jobs into account as their top priority.”

The release notes that the “government already requires that bills be ‘scored’ for the amount of money that each will cost.”

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Commerce Committee to Hold Hearing on Mobile Privacy

The Senate Commerce Committee “will hold a May hearing on consumer privacy on mobile phones, Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) announced Thursday,” according to The Hill.

The announcement follows the discovery that iPhones track and store information about users’ whereabouts, a discovery Apple says it will fix through a software update.

Rockefeller called this incident "just the latest in a string of concerns raised in the mobile marketplace." He said the mobile marketplace "collects and uses a wide range of personal information — often with inadequate or untimely disclosure."

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Senators Issue Statement on Situation in Syria

Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have issued the following press release statement regarding the situation in Syria:

“The escalating crackdown by Bashar al Assad’s regime against the Syrian people has reached a decisive point. By following the path of Moammar Qaddafi and deploying military forces to crush peaceful demonstrations, Assad and those loyal to him have lost the legitimacy to remain in power in Syria. We urge President Obama to state unequivocally – as he did in the case of Qaddafi and Mubarak – that it is time for Assad to go. The President should take tangible diplomatic and economic measures to isolate and pressure the Assad regime, including through targeted sanctions against Assad himself and other regime officials who are responsible for gross human rights abuses.

“Bashar al Assad has been given countless chances to pursue meaningful dialogue and reform. He has squandered all of them. Rather than hedging our bets or making excuses for the Assad regime, it is time for the United States, together with our allies in Europe and around the world, to align ourselves unequivocally with the Syrian people in their peaceful demand for a democratic government.”

McCain is Ranking Member on the Armed Services Committee. Lieberman and Graham also serve on the committee.

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Secretary Duncan Wants No Child Left Behind Reauthorized before August Break

Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants Congress to reauthorize and fix No Child Left Behind before the August recess, according to Mike Allen’s Playbook.

DAVID GREGORY spoke with Education Secretary Arne Duncan for the “Meet the Press” midweek series, “Press Pass.” On the No Child Left Behind battle approaching, Duncan said: “We want to reauthorize and fix No Child Left Behind, and do it before the August recess and work together to do that. … [W]e want to fix it in a bipartisan way, we want to do it before the school-year starts. The current law, No Child Left Behind, is far too punitive, it’s far too prescriptive, it led to a dumbing down of standards, and it led to a narrowing of the curriculum.” http://on.msnbc.com/miHoyx

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