Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Daily Strike-1/27/09-Lilly, ARRA, Day on the Hill, Vocab III

Good Tuesday Evening and welcome to the Daily Strike!

CONGRESS: Today was a very busy day in Congress. This afternoon, President Obama met with the House Republicans. Their fearless leader, John Boehner of Ohio, set a "great" tone for the meeting by announcing to his members that they should oppose the bill. From inside accounts, the meeting was cordial. Obama told them that he would not compromise on the tax portion of the bill and even encouraged Republicans to "beat me over the head" with it.

The Republicans will largely oppose this bill, so these meetings are mostly for show. If Obama doesn't get Republican votes, he can at least say that he reached out.

The House of Representatives passed a final version of the Lilly Ledbetter Act by a vote of 250-177. 3 Republicans joined 245 Democrats in voting for the bill, and 5 Democrats joined the remaining Republicans in opposition. Who are the guilty Dems? Dan Boren of Oklahoma (he of "I won't vote for Obama" fame), Bobby Bright of Alabama, who seems like the second most conservative freshman Democrat, Parker Griffith of Alabama, Allen Boyd of Florida and Travis Childers of Mississippi. The bill now goes to President Obama for his first signature in office. Watch for a large signing ceremony with a lot of women present!

Perhaps the most important vote of the day was on a procedural measure to begin debate on the stimulus. Voting for the measure meant voting to consider the bill despite the fact that it does not adhere to the House's Pay-as-you-go budgeting rules. The vote was very close, as 27 Democrats joined every Republican in voting against the motion. The final vote was 224-199. This is an important sign that even with significant opposition from the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, the House leadership can still largely exact its will with 10 to 15 votes to spare. This is the ULTIMATE test, because the signature issue of the Blue Dogs is Pay-as-you-go budgeting. Tomorrow, the House will vote on a Republican alternative and on final passage, which will be the biggest moment of Obama's young Presidency. The other day, I predicted passage with 240-260 votes, which now seems a bit high, seeing how Republicans are intent on not cooperating with the President. I'd say it will pass with 230-240 votes, with little to no Republican support, and some conservative Democratic opposition. We'll talk about the votes tomorrow.

The Senate began consideration of the State Children's Health Insurance Program today. The Republicans are expressing opposition to the bill for a whole host of reasons. The only vote today was to kill an amendment offered by the ultra-conservative South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint to make children of parents who make above 200% of the poverty line make co-pays for health insurance. It was killed, thankfully. The final vote was 60-37, largely along party lines. Republican crossvers: Collins (ME), Hutchison (TX) (did she realize what she was voting for? I think she may have thought she was voting FOR the amendment, and not to KILL the amendment), and Specter (PA). Claire McCaskill voted with the Republicans, but she may have made the same mistake as Hutchison. I can't explain why she would vote to allow that amendment. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on more amendments, a Republican alternative, and possibly final passage of the bill. SCHIP will most likely return to the House before being signed by President Obama as a major accomplishment early in his Presidency.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved their portion of the stimulus bill by a vote of 21-9.

A cool link today from the great Nate Silver, who analyzes which Republicans have been voting with the new President in the Senate:


VOCAB III: Today's term is "The Committee of the Whole." When the House of Representatives is debating legislation it often resolves itself into the "committee of the whole." This means that the House is acting as if it is one large committee, for the purpose of expediting debate. When the House is in the Committee of the Whole, it can debate without some of the stricter rules that exist in the regular House of Representatives, such as requiring 218 members to establish a quorum. Debate on amendments is limited to five minutes per side. Amendments can be voted on in the Committee of the Whole. When the debate is over, the committee rises and becomes the full House of Representatives, which must approve the amendments passed in the committee of the whole (usually a formality). No votes on final passage can occur when the House is in the committee of the whole. Complicated? Yes. Pointless? Probably. Do I, a parliamentary nerd, understand it? Not really.

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