Monday, February 2, 2009

The Daily Strike-2/2/09-Holder, Stimulus, Nominations and Vocab VII

Monday Night...time for the Daily Strike...

HOLDER: Eric Holder was confirmed today as the next Attorney General of the United States by a vote of 75-21. Every Democrat voted for him. Republicans were pretty much split down the middle. One interesting yes vote was John McCain, who goes back and forth from being Obama's friend, to a thorn in his side. A notable no-vote was from Kay Bailey Hutchison, who expressed her concern that Holder did not have enough respect for the 2nd Amendment. Holder notably wrote an amicus brief arguing against abolishing Washington DC's Gun Control law.

Holder's confirmation leaves four outstanding nominees:

DASCHLE: The nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary is under fire for not reporting income on his taxes, including a limo and limo driver. He spoke to the Senate Finance committee this afternoon and got a show of support from its chairman, Max Baucus of Montana. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts claims there was some Republican support in the room, which would pretty much ensure Daschle's confirmation in both the committee and the full Senate. For his part, President Obama reiterated his support of Daschle in a statement today. Daschle gave this statement after meeting with the committee:

"My failure to recognize the use of a car was income and not a gift from a good friend was a mistake. It was completely inadvertent."

"I deeply apologize to President Obama, my colleagues and the American people."

KIRK: I know nothing about why his nomination for U.S. Trade Representative has gone nowhere.

SOLIS: Still no word on when the Republicans will allow Solis' nomination to proceed. A couple of Republicans have put a hold on the Labor Secretary nominee and House member from California due to her somewhat vague answers on key labor issues during her hearing.

GREGG: The likely nominee for Commerce Secretary, Republican Senator Judd Gregg, has assured the Senate Republican Conference that he will be replaced by a Republican. Today, the Democratic governor of New Hampshire John Lynch, promised he'd replace Gregg with a Republican. The announcement of Gregg should come in the next couple of days. One interesting thing to watch will be whether Gregg, who will still be a Senator during the stimulus debate, will help out his new boss, or adhere to his conservative ideology.

UPDATE: Gregg will be announced as the nominee tomorrow morning.

STIMULUS UPDATE: The Senate began debate on the stimulus this afternoon and will begin consideration of amendments tomorrow. The first one up for consideration is from Senators Murray of Washington and Feinstein of California (among others) which would increase money for infrastructure projects. (A similar amendment upped the infrastructure total in the house). The Republicans will likely offer several amendments. Votes are expected throughout the day. We'll analyze them for you tomorrow.

The Republicans, led by Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, unveiled their formal alternative today. The total price tag of the Republican bill is $713 billion (a couple hundred billion less than the House-passed version). The bill includes $430 billion for tax cuts (twice as much as the Democratic bill), $114 for infrastructure, $138 billion for increases in unemployment insurance, and $30 billion for housing assistance. The alternative will surely be defeated, possibly gaining a few Democratic votes.

VOCAB: Today we will discuss Roll Call votes in the Senate. For those of you who don't watch CSPAN, you would think that the Senate clerk will call the roll, and each Senator would respond promptly with "Aye" or "No." In reality, the clerk does call the roll, but most Senators are not in the chamber when the roll begins. Instead, Senators file in at their own pace, and vote whenever they feel like it, even if their name hasn't yet been called. Usually the clerk will finish calling the roll and only a few Senators will have voted. The clerk announces the "Senators voting in the affirmative" and "Senators voting in the negative." One by one, each Senator goes up to the desk and announces his or her vote, and the clerk reports that vote to the rest of the chamber. If you accidentally switched on CSPAN2 during a vote, you'd hear a lot of:

"Mr. Gregg...Mr. Gregg, Aye,"

"Mr. Kerry...Mr. Kerry, No"

This goes on for several minutes until all Senators have voted. Then the clerk has to read the tally to the presiding officer (usually a freshman Senator) who for some reason always look absolutely clueless announcing the tally.

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