Monday, April 20, 2009

The Weekly Strike-4/20-4/26

Good Monday morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike, where we run down the upcoming week in politics. Congress is back in session this week, so there's lots to talk about. Let's get to it.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President is back from Latin America, and people are still talking about his handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. After spending time meeting some not-s0-friendly neighbor, Obama turns his focus this week back to domestic affairs. This morning, he holds the first full meeting of his cabinet. It will still be one person short, because HHS nominee Kathleen Sebelius has not yet been confirmed (more on that later). Apparently, following up on his weekly radio address, the President will ask cabinet agencies to find a combined $100 million in cuts. Of course, in the context of the federal budget, this is absolutely miniscule. The request seems to be completely symbolic. As the Big Picture wisely points out, how about scrap the symbolic act and focus on putting 24 million Americans back to work?

Later today the President goes to talk to the employees of the CIA at the Langley Center. He'll probably have to explain to them why he released the Bush-era torture memos. But they will probably receive him pretty warmly since he basically ruled out charging CIA employees for the actions ordered by the previous administration.

Tomorrow, the President is expected to sign the Kennedy/Hatch public service bill, a measure that increases public service jobs from 75,000 to 250,000. I expect a large bipartisan lovey dovey signing ceremony. He will also present the commander-in-chief trophy to the Navy Football team. On Wednesday, Obama travels to Iowa.

THE SENATE: A very busy week in the United States Senate. Tonight, Senators will vote on the nomination of three separate assistant attorney generals. I expect all of them to pass pretty easily. The final vote this evening will be a motion to cut off debate on the nomination of Christopher Hill to be ambassador to Iraq. Despite support from the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations committee, Richard Lugar, the nomination has been stalled for a few weeks. Republican Senators have had various complaints about Hill, mostly stemming from his Bush-era negotiations with North Korea. The lifelong diplomat will eventually be confirmed. Of course, a motion to cut off debate requires 60 votes. Assuming most (if not all) Democrats are aboard, add Lugar in there, and we only need to pick off one more Republican.

The Senate then moves to consideration of a bill to expand the liability of mortgage companies who engage in fraudulent behavior. This is the first of several financial regulation bills expected to be considered by the Senate in the coming weeks. The bill is supported by the ranking Republican on the Finance committee, Chuck Grassley (IA). A test vote to see whether the measure could garner the magic 60 will be held probably sometime on Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, the Senate Finance committee will vote on whether to send Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to the full Senate. I expect the vote to come largely along party lines. Sebelius' nomination has been slightly sidetracked by allegations that she accepted a lot of money from a Kansas late-term abortion doctor, and that she failed to pay enough in income taxes. Ultimately, I don't see any reason why she wouldn't get confirmed. If she is confirmed, the Obama cabinet will finally be full.

THE HOUSE: It will be a much quieter week in the House of Representatives. Tomorrow and Wednesday, the House will vote on non-controversial measures under suspension of the rules. On Thursday, the House considers a bill to expand research for national water projects. The bill would create a new interdepartmental agency that would study U.S. water use, and expected changes in supply and demand.

It's also possible that House and Senate negotiators will agree on a final version of the budget resolution. If so, both chambers would have to approve the final version.

That's it for now. Please leave some comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment