Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Daily Strike-3/18/09-The Marathon Part II

Good evening once again. I had a cup of water and some Girl Scout cookies and I'm ready to move on to Part II. If you haven't read Part I of today's entry, read it first. It's right below this one.

THE SENATE: The Senate today continued its consideration of the "Tomnibus" bill, a bill that combines several public lands (and unrelated legislation) blocked in the previous Congress by Senator Coburn (R-OK). Today the Senate voted to kill three Coburn amendments to the bill.

-The first amendment would have prohibited the building of new national parks until we fully refurbished our current ones. Obviously, that's a pretty unrealistic goal, and there's no reason we shouldn't be doing both at the same time. The amendment was killed 79-19. All 19 votes to keep the amendment alive were from Republicans.

-The next amendment would have eliminated restrictions of the development of alternative energy sources on public lands. Sure, this sounds good, but as Senator Bingaman (D-NM) pointed out, do we really want wind turbines and solar panels in our national parks? The amendment was killed 65-33. All votes to keep it alive were from Republicans, except for Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

-Finally, the Senate killed an amendment that prohibit the use of eminent domain and to make sure that no American has their property forcibly taken from them by any provision in the bill. Didn't matter too much though. The amendment was killed 63-35. Among the votes to keep the amendment alive were Democrats Begich (AK), Byrd (WV), Nelson (NE) and Webb (VA).

The Senate today also finally cleared the nomination of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. His nomination had been held up because of tax issues, but it didn't seem to hurt him too much. His nomination was approved by a vote of 92-5. The no votes were Bond (R-MO) Bunning (R-KY), Byrd (D-WV), Isakson (R-GA) and Sanders (I-VT) (he's an anti-free trade crusader).

The only remaining cabinet nominees to be confirmed are Gary Locke for Secretary of Commerce (he sailed through his hearing today) and Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services.

Tomorrow, the Senate considers a few more Coburn amendments before voting on final passage, which will be subject to a 60 vote threshold, per an agreement between the two leaders. The Senate will also consider the nomination of Elena Kagan to be Solicitor General.


-TAUSCHER: It looks like we've got ourselves another House vacancy. Rep. Ellen Tauscher has apparently been chosen by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control. Tauscher's district in the East Bay Area is relatively liberal, so the Democrats shouldn't have too tough of a time holding the seat. Tauscher was a very prominent member of the House as the leader of the moderate New Democrat Coalition. CSPAN viewers would also recognize her as one of the few members who frequently presides over debate in the House as the Speaker Pro-Tempore.

-STOP LOSS POLICY: The Pentagon announced today that the military's stop-loss policy, which forced soldiers to take extended tours of duty beyond their regular enlistment. The policy will be phased out in the next couple of years. Once again, an "elections have consequences" moment.

-PRESS CONFERENCE: Obama annouced that he will hold his second prime time Press Conference next Tuesday. This should be a good way for him to regain control of the debate in Washington. His mantra: less AIG, more talk about his budget priorities.

After this long, eventful day, we finally say good night. I would appreciate a comment or two.

1 comment:

  1. doing some research and find this blog - wonderful and I will come here often... thank you!!!

    BTW, GIVE Act supposed to be the main story but has been overshadowed by the AIG matter...