Monday, April 26, 2010

The Weekly Strike-4/26-5/2

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. The President's agenda seems pretty stalled in Congress, and the administration is opposing breaking up the big banks. Plus it's dreary outside. It all adds up to me in a pretty sour mood.

FINANCIAL REGULATION: The battle for financial regulation will forge on this week, starting this afternoon in the United States Senate. The Senate will take a test vote this evening to begin debate on the bill. It appears that Democrats will be unable to win over the one Republican necessary to move forward. Senate Republicans are united in sticking together to block the bill so they can extract some concessions that will inevitably make the bill worse. Democrats need Republicans to pay for this obstruction. They should not weaken the regulations, and they should relentlessly attack Republicans for standing with Wall Street. Democrats are on the winning side of this issue, and there is no reason to give in now, even in the face of uniform Republican obstruction.

For his part, President Obama doesn't seem to have any events this week pushing the bill. It is frustrating that the President isn't out there forcefully explaining what this bill does, why it's needed, and what it will do to ease the burden on middle class families (i.e. protect people's savings from the reckless traders on Wall Street).

THE SENATE: It is unclear what the Senate will move to if Financial Reform fails its test vote today, as I expect it will. Two major items on the agenda were threatened by the selfish nihilism this week of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham was the lead negotiator for Republicans on both climate legislation, as well as immigration reform. In fact, Graham was supposed to unveil his climate bill today with Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Lieberman (I-CT). But Graham backed out at the last minute, saying that murmurs from the White House that they want to push immigration reform somehow threaten the work on climate change. So basically, two of our country's most pressing issues are currently on the back burner because one Republican Senator is having a temper tantrum.

The need for legislation on both of these issues is obviously great. Last Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed an immoral law that will allow police to pull over those they "suspect" as being illegal immigrants, and ask for identification. This measure will amount to pure racial profiling. The Obama administration rightly reacted to this bill by emphasizing the need for a comprehensive national immigration strategy. It becomes a lot harder to do this in an election year without Graham's involvement. Democrats will have to find another Republican willing to work on both of these issues. I'll try to remain confident.

THE HOUSE: While the Senate dithers on big ticket items, the House continues to pass smaller pieces of legislation. This pattern will continue this week. The House will consider suspension bills today and tomorrow. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will consider two pieces of substantive legislation. The first is the "Puerto Rico Democracy Act." The bill gives the Puerto Rican people the option to vote on whether to maintain its current relationship with the United States. If the populous disapproves of the arrangement, they will vote whether to become fully independent of the U.S., or whether to join the U.S. as our 51st state. The bill has wide bipartisan support, and I expect it to pass relatively easily. The bill is sponsored by Puerto Rico's non-voting House member, Rep. Pedro Pierliusi.

The House will then vote on a bill that further reforms how our military acquires weapons. This legislation builds off of last year's bill that reformed the procurement process. I expect this bill to pass relatively easily as well.

That's it for now. Unless you want me to talk about today's visit to the White House by the World Series Champion New York Yankees. But that would just depress me even further...

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