Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Daily Strike-6/30/10-Reaching 60

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. The theme of the day was getting to 60 votes in the United States Senate. What a surprise.

FINANCIAL REGULATION: Moments ago, the House passed the conference report accompanying the Wall Street reform legislation by, the most sweeping rewrite of our financial system since the Great Depression. The final vote was a healthy 237-192. The bill surprisingly got the support of three Republicans, Reps. Cao (LA), Castle (DE) and Jones (NC). The following Democrats opposed the bill. Call their offices and complain accordingly: Berry (AR), Boren (OK), Boucher (VA), Bright (AL), Chandler (KY), Childers (MS), Copper (TN), Critz (PA), Cuellar (TX), Davis (TN), Edwards (TX), Kaptur (OH) (perhaps the lone opposition from the left), Kirkpatrick (AZ), McIntyre (NC), Mitchell (AZ), Owens (NY), Perriello (VA) (that's sad, he's taken some other courageous votes during his freshman term), Ross (AR), and Skelton (MO). Mostly your standard list of Blue Dogs. It's sure real "maverick-y" of them to stand for Wall Street and against the American people.

Prior to a vote on final passage, Democrats beat back a Republican amendment that would send the bill back to the conference committee with instructions to add a stricter audit of the Federal Reserve. The motion failed 198-229, with all Republicans and 23 Democrats voting yes.

The only stop left before the President's desk is the United States Senate, though it looks like consideration there will be delayed until after the July 4th recess. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), who has been holding negotiations hostage and has one several special carve-outs, says that he "looks forward to reviewing the bill" over the July recess. What a tool, to put it delicately. So here's the math. 56 Democrats are pretty certain to support the bill, and one (Feingold) is certain to oppose it. Republicans Collins and Snowe of Maine are also likely supporters at this point. When West Virginia's new Democratic Senator is sworn in, presumably in the next couple of weeks, they will probably support the bill as well, which puts the magic number at 59. The 60th vote would either have to come from Brown, Democrat Maria Cantwell who opposes the bill from the left, or Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who voted for the bill last time around. Chances are that they'll get one of these Senators to budge.

THE SENATE: Majority Leader Reid (NV) is trying one last time to pass an extension of unemployment benefits, and it appears he is still one vote short. 57 Democrats, as well as Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine, would support the extension, well Democrat Nelson (NE) has voiced his opposition. Either Democrats will have to wait for the new West Virginia Senator to arrive, or they'll have to try to convince another Republican to abandon their party leadership and stand up for struggling families. Because of Republican obstruction over the past month, over 1 million people have lost unemployment benefits. I think Republicans are of the mind that these people are lazy and are just not looking hard enough for a job. Sane people realize that it's tough to find work when hundreds of people are applying to every available job.

The Senate most likely will not vote on this extension until Friday, when they'll also presumably vote on a small business lending bill. The Senate takes a break tomorrow to pay respects to the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).

The Senate did find time today to unanimously approve the nomination of David Petraeus to be the next commander in Afghanistan. See, the Senate can indeed move quickly when it wants to.

KAGAN: Senators finished questioning Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan today, and the hearings were notable for being, well, entirely uneventful. Kagan faced sharp questions from Republicans about gun rights, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and many other issues. In total, Kagan answerd 500 questions over two days, and didn't give Republicans any real ammunition against her.

I think Kagan is well on her way to gaining confirmation. A vote in the Judiciary Committee will occur in mid-July, with a vote in front of the full Senate slated for just before the August recess.

OBAMA: President Obama held a town hall meeting today in Racine, WI, where he talked about the economy. Obama previewed some fall campaign themes. He attacked Republicans for wanting to move the country backward, and he chastised House Minority Leader Boehner for suggesting that the financial reform bill is "throwing a nuclear weapon at an ant." Obama was sharp and feisty, which is good to see. Because the economy will likely still be in the doldrums through the November elections, the Democrats' only hope is to draw sharp contrasts with the Republicans.

That's it for today, see you tomorrow!

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