The leaders of the G20 also talked about the global economic crisis and climate change. As was expected, no new major policies were announced, but the President described the meeting as a success.
THE SENATE: The Senate finally finished appropriation bill number 6 yesterday, the one funding the Department of Interior. The final vote was 77-21, with Democrat Evan Bayh (IN) joining 20 Republicans in opposition. Because the Senate has taken weeks to complete these appropriations bill, they will have to extend current funding for another month (see below). Republicans have held up the process by offering a ton of amendments and using various dilatory tactics. As a result, the Senate has yet to act on some very important House-passed legislation like education reform and food safety.
Prior to a vote on final passage, the Senate voted on several amendments. The first amendment, offered by Senator Clown was an homage to the Glenn Beck obsession with Obama's czars. Czars are policy makers that work in the White House as staffers. Someone started calling them czars and that seems to scare a lot of people. Vitter's amendment sought to guarantee that the "Climate Change Czar" is not enacting any policy changes in the Department of the Interior. The amendment was killed 57-41, with only maverick Democrats McCaskill (MO) and Nelson (NE) voting with the GOP. The Democrats killed two more amendments, one dealing with overall spending levels and one with maintenance backlogs at National Parks. The Senate will move to the Defense appropriations bill next Tuesday.
The Senate swore in its newest member today. Paul Kirk, former staffer for Ted Kennedy (MA), took the late Senator's seat after being appointed on an interim basis by Governor Deval Patrick. Massachusetts had to change its state law to provide for this appointment. The action was intensely partisan. The law had been changed in 2004 to prevent Mitt Romney from appointing John Kerry's successor should he have won the Presidency. But Democrats in Massachusetts have such large majorities in the state legislature that they can do whatever they want. Kirk gives Democrats 60 votes in the Senate again, pending the ability of 92-year-old Robert Byrd, who is very ill, to show up for votes. There goes one fewer excuse for us not getting health care reform done.
THE HOUSE: The House today voted on the conference report accompanying the Legislative Appropriations bill, which includes a continuing resolution that funds the government through November 1st (that's a lot of legislative lingo!). In plain English, the House is using a bill that funds Congress as a vehicle to pass a temporary extension of current funding levels until all 12 appropriation bills are approved (which could take awhile.) Democrats also attached $4 billion in temporary funding for the U.S. Post Office, which is essentially broke. Republicans objected to this procedural maneuvering, as they always do, but House Democrats were able to hold together to prevent a government shutdown. I assume that the Senate will approve this conference report by Wednesday, when the fiscal year ends. The vote on the conference report was 217-190. 5 Republicans voted yes, and 28 Democrats voted no. Interestingly enough, many liberal Democrats voted no because the bill forbids any funding from going to ACORN. To me, this is a pointless concession to the Republicans, because they're not gonna vote for the bill anyway.
Yesterday, the House passed a bill under suspension of the rules that extends limits to premiums under Medicare Part B in a budget neutral fashion. The bill passed by a 406-18 margin. The House moves next week to consideration of more appropriations bill conference reports.
That's it for today, and unfortunately, that's it until Tuesday. The Strike will be taking the LSAT's tomorrow and will be observing Yom Kippur on Monday. We will be back and better than ever for a Weekly Strike on Tuesday morning. Leave comments!