Monday, March 2, 2009

The Weekly Strike-3/2-3/7

Good Monday morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike where we run down the upcoming week in politics.

WHITE HOUSE: President Obama's week is healthcare themed. Today he introduces Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Her nomination is expected to be relatively smooth, barring any unforeseen distractions. She has had to govern as a Democrat on one of the most conservative states, so she has built a good relationship with a number of Republicans, including the state's two Republican Senators, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts.

On Thursday, Obama holds a "Health Care Summit" at the White House. No word yet on the invitees, but I expect it to be stakeholders from across the political spectrum. Now is a good time to hold a summit on health care and show that you care what other people think, because later this year, you're gonna need as much goodwill as possible to get comprehensive health care reform enacted in Congress.

The other notable event on the President's schedule this week is a meeting tomorrow with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This is the first meeting of the two since Obama won the Presidency. Brown will also speak to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. My guess is that Brown, who will be in a tight election next year against the Conservative party of David Cameron, would love to be seen with President Obama, given his popularity on the British Isles.

The President travels to Columbus this Friday. Don't know why, but I would guess it's about the economy.

CONGRESS: Another busy week in Congress as the House and Senate convene today. The House will hold a postponed vote on a Housing bill tomorrow. The bill would allow bankruptcy judges to renegotiate the terms of mortgages. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to postpone consideration of the bill after some of the more conservative members in her caucus thought the package went too far. I expect it to pass, with some modifications, ona largely party-line vote. The bill currently has one Republican co-sponsor, Mike Turner of Ohio.

The House then moves to consider the DC Voting Rights bill. The Senate passed its version last week. The House bill will not include some of the Senate add-ons, like the elimination of the "Fairness Doctrine" or the abolishment of the DC Gun Control laws. With a large Democratic majority, I expect the bill to pass relatively easily. The interesting thing to watch for will be the Republican motion to recommit. This parliamentary procedure is the right of the minority to try and change the bill before final passage. If the motion to recommit passes, the minority's changes are adopted immediately. My guess is that the Republicans use the motion to recommit to force members to cast a vote on gun control. In other words, the motion would require that DC gun safety laws would be abolished. Many Democrats would be tempted to vote for this, because a lot of them want to maintain their 100% rating from the NRA. Will there be enough of them voting with the Republicans to get this provision included in the bill? That remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether the Rules Committee will try some sort of parliamentary maneuver to keep the Republicans from being able to offer such a motion.

The Senate this week will consider an omnibus spending package that funds the federal government through September. Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has said that despite the bill's large number of earmarks, the President will sign the legislation. Senators will have the chance to offer amendments, and we'll keep you posted on which ones are adopted. Assuming the Senate amends the bill, the House will take either take up the amended version, or the two chambers will reconcile the bills. The budget must be approved by this Friday, when the continuing resolution that funds government operations expires. Of course, they may have to temporarily extend that resolution if they can't come to an agreement on a final bill this week.

That's it for this week in Politics. See you tonight for the Daily Strike!

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