The threat of a Senate investigation into the controversial NSA surveillance program looms again over the Intelligence Committee this week. In a closed meeting on Tuesday, the panel's Democrats will again attempt to bring the matter up for a vote after being thwarted last month by a White House commitment to work toward a legislative fix and give the panel more oversight over the program. But a final deal has yet to be reached, and without it the vote for an investigation lies with non-committal Republicans Snowe, Maine, and Hagel, Neb.
The administration's recent requests for emergency funding for Hurricane Katrina relief and Iraq/Afghanistan wars will generate three hearings with several high profile witnesses in the Appropriations Committee. On Tuesday morning, the Governors of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas testify before the panel. On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff and HUD Secretary Jackson weigh in on Gulf Coast assistance.
And while Thursday's hearing will focus on emergency funds needed for the Global War on Terror, it will more than likely be a referendum of sorts on the war in Iraq. Scheduled to testify are Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs of Staff Pace, and Centcom Gen. John Abizaid. While the Appropriations Committee doesn't have some of the more recognizable names in the Iraq debate, Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Nev., is a panel member and will likely attend.
On the Senate floor this week, expect action on lobbying reform, a bill that would provide more money to a program that assists low income people with heating costs and probably a measure to increase the debt limit. The Democrat's agenda for the week will be to highlight shortcomings in the president's budget that will affect national security, with Reid's first news conference Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET.