Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/4/09-Elections and Governance

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I hope you enjoyed last night's election liveblogging. After we signed off, Democrat Bill Owens was officially declared the winner of the contested House race in New York's 23rd district. As expected, Democrat John Garamendi won a vacant House seat in California. So despite the media's declaration of a Republican sweep last night, Democrats actually have two more votes for their agenda in Congress.

Make sure you read The Big Picture's reflections on the one year anniversary of President Obama's election. It's hard to believe it's been a year. Despite all of the frustrations we've had trying to govern, I will never forget the glow of November 4th, 2008. I'll have more on that this weekend. Forgive this entry for being short. It's game 6 of the World Series.

THE SENATE: After weeks of pointless delay, the Senate voted unanimously to approve a temporary extension to unemployment benefits. Republicans had delayed a vote on final passage because they were not given the chance to offer certain irrelevant amendments. The bill extends unemployment benefits based on the unemployment levels in the various states. It also includes an extension of the first-time home buyers credit included in this year's economic stimulus package. The measure now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass tomorrow. President Obama will sign this bill by the end of the week. I still can't get over the fact that unemployment benefits were held hostage by Senate Republicans for four weeks so they could get a vote to defund ACORN for the upteenth time. So nihilistic. Democrats need to call them out for this.

The Senate moves tomorrow to the Commerce, Science and Justice Appropriations bill which has been languishing for several months during yet another procedural dispute over amendments. The Senate will vote on cloture midday, and will hopefully finish the bill by the late afternoon.

THE HOUSE: Mark your calendars, folks! The House leadership has tentatively scheduled a vote on health care legislation for Saturday at 6pm. Democrats needed some more time to finalize last minute deals with various constituencies. The House Rules Committee will meet Friday to set parameters for the debate. I would guess that debate on the bill will begin Friday evening and continue all day Saturday. Speaker Pelosi expressed full confidence today that she has the 218 votes to pass the bill. I would guess that they'll get a majority vote when push comes to shove, and it will be a major victory for Democrats. Hopefully, it will spur the Senate into action.

The House today passed a bill that will change the effective date of the Credit CARD Act from next July to this December. Anticipating the new regulations, credit card companies have jacked up rates on consumers, so it made sense to make the bill go into effect immediately. The bill passed easily by a vote of 331-92. All no votes were from Republicans, except for South Dakota Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. In a COMPLETELY unrelated matter, almost all credit card companies are based in South Dakota. Prior to a vote on final passage, the House rejected a Republican motion to recommit that would have required the Federal Reserve to conduct studies to see if early enactment of the bill was "feasible." The motion failed 171-263. 3 Democrats voted yes and 6 Republicans voted no. The House also approved a few amendments to the bill. I'm sure this bill, like every other one, will die a slow death in the United States Senate.

That's it for today, see you tomorrow. Countdown to health care in the House is 3 days!

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