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Senate Week Ahead

From NBC's Ken Strickland
The confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor starts in earnest this week in the Senate. Beginning Tuesday, Sotomayor begins the requisite courtesy calls with members. Her first meetings will be with Senate leadership and top members of the Judiciary Committee -- the panel which conducts the confirmation hearings. The first one is with Majority Leader Harry Reid at 10:15 am ET.

Days after General Motors filed for bankruptcy, GM CEO Fritz Henderson will testify in a Senate hearing on dealership closures on Wednesday. He will be joined by Chrysler president James Press, the chairman of National Automobile Dealers, and others. The hearing is called "GM and Chrysler Dealership Closures: Protecting Dealers and Consumers."

Several cabinet secretaries and senior officials will be before the Appropriations Committee, making the case for their 2010 budget requests. On Wednesday Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will testify. And on Thursday, FBI Director Mueller and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will appear.

On the floor, moreover, the Senate is poised to take up bill that would give the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco. That could happen as early as Tuesday. Those new powers would the allow more control over the marketing, advertising, and nicotine levels of cigarettes. It's expected to pass, but still must be merged with the House version before going to the president.