Friday, July 31, 2009

The Daily Strike-7/31/09-The House Adjourns

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike, our last entry in the month of July. I think we can agree that President Obama is probably not sad to see this month end. To the day in politics...

HEALTH CARE: The House adjourned today for the month of August, but some members are still holding off on their "well-deserved" 5 week vacation and are clinging to the House office buildings. That's because the Energy and Commerce committee is still meeting as we speak to finish up their mark-up of health reform legislation. They are in the process of considering hundreds of amendments from both parties. Chairman Waxman has said that he thinks the committee can complete its work tonight and report the bill to the full House. Last night, Waxman struck a deal between liberals and conservatives in his caucus to restore some of the subsidy money that was previously cut. Because of these concessions, the bill is expected to clear the House Energy and Commerce committee this evening on a close vote. One possible amendment to look for tonight would be from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) that would scrap the entire bill in favor of a single-payer system. The amendment will fail, but it will allow liberals a chance to vote their conscience. Chairman Waxman has said that he expects a vote on a single-payer proposal to be considered in the full House as well. We will update you tomorrow on what happens tonight in the committee.

Over in the Senate, Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (MT) is finally drawing a semi-line in the sand for his bipartisan Gang of 6 negotiations. He has given them a deadline of September 15th to agree on a compromise, and at that point, he will proceed to a mark-up no matter what. I hope he's willing to bypass the Republicans.

THE HOUSE: The full House had a productive final day of the session. If you recall about a month ago, Congress, as part of a war funding bill, approved a program called Cash for Clunkers. As part of this program, if you turned in an old gas guzzling car, you would get a $4500 credit to get a new fuel efficent car. The program began last week and was enormously successful. So successful, in fact, that it ran out of money in one week. The program was supposed to expire in October. Accordingly, the House rushed a measure to the floor to fund an additional $2 billion in the program. The funding comes from money already authorized from the stimulus. Democrats brought the bill to the floor under expedited procedures requiring a 2/3rds majority. Luckily, the bill passed by a vote of 316-109. 77 Republicans joined all but 14 Democrats in voting yes. 2 Republicans voted "present." The Senate will most likely take up the bill early next week.

The House also considered a bill that would set new rules on executive compensation. Under the legislation, shareholders would hold a non-binding vote on compensation packages. It wouldn't have a tangible effect, but it would be bad public relations for a company that gives lavish CEO bonuses. Republicans objected to the bill as an excessive government intrusion into private business. What a shocker. I wish the bill was stronger and made the shareholder votes binding. Better yet, how about letting the low level workers vote on compensation packages?? Anyways, I still would have voted for the bill. It passed by a vote of 237-185. 2 Republicans voted yes, while 16 Democrats voted no. The two brave Republicans were Reps. Duncan (TN) and T. Murphy (PA). Prior to a vote on final passage, the House rejected two separate Republican alternatives by votes of 179-244 and 178-244 respectively. A version of the bill will be considered in the Senate in the fall.

ODDS AND ENDS: It was mostly a quiet day for the President. His senior advisor David Axelrod went to talk to House Democrats about health care messaging (a talk they desperately need). Also, the President gave a quick speech on the economy, in which he highlighted the decent GDP numbers.

On a sadder note, Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) announced that he has prostate cancer. He said that they caught it early enough that he should make a full recovery.

That's it for tonight, see you tomorrow!

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