Monday, July 12, 2010

The Weekly Strike-7/12-7/18

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. Now that the World Cup is over, and baseball season is on a brief hiatus, I can turn my full focus to politics. Lucky for you!

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The theme of the week will be the ability (or lack thereof) of the United States Senate to complete some very important unfinished business. Still outstanding are an extension of unemployment benefits that failed by a single vote at the end of June, and the conference report accompanying the Financial Reform bill. Each bill was about one vote short at the end of the last session, and that vote could be the potential appointee of Governor Joe Manchin (D-WV), to replace the late Senator Byrd. However, Manchin is proving to be a bit of a pain in the neck. Since he's angling to run for the Senate seat himself this year, he's approaching this "strategically" meaning he's actually just dithering. The longer Manchin waits, the longer these pieces of legislation will languish, most likely.

On the unemployment bill, 57 of 58 Democrats, excluding Ben Nelson (NE) voted to end debate, as did Republicans Snowe and Collins of Maine. With the new West Virginia Senator, that could be law within days, giving essential relief to those afflicted by the joblessness crisis. On financial reform, Democrats have the firm support of Republican Susan Collins, and tepid support of Senators Snowe and Brown (MA). Senator Cantwell (WA), who voted against the original bill, has announced her support, leaving Senator Feingold (WI) as the only Democratic holdout. If everyone else votes as expected, this leaves Democrats with exactly 60 votes, possibly 61 depending on the ever-so non-dependable Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who voted yes the first time. Since the House has already passed the conference report, the Senate pretty much needs to an affirmative vote, lest they want to go through the arduous process of reconvening the conference committee to make even further changes. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the Republicans played the Lucy/football routine with Democratic leaders.

The Senate also will try to complete work on a bill that provides for increased loans to small businesses, and will consider, but probably not doing anything, on a potential climate/energy bill that Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) hopes to take up next week. The bill will only include subsidies for alternative energy, and will most likely not include a meaningful cap on carbon emissions.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, due to Republican delays, will probably not vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan this week. That should come next week, with a final full Senate vote coming at the end of the month. Kagan's confirmation is looking like the only sure thing in this bleak-looking Senate session.

THE HOUSE: The House, as usual, will be in a major holding pattern this week waiting on their Senate counterparts. After working on suspensions tomorrow and Wednesday, the House will consider two substantive bills. The first would allow government agencies to come up with policies that maximize workers' ability to tele-commute, provided that it doesn't hurt productivity. The bill is expected to save the Federal Government a little bit of money. The bill got an overwhelming number of votes a couple of weeks ago, but failed to get the 2/3rds vote required to pass under suspension of the rules. They'll try again on Thursday. Also, the House will consider a bill that reforms National Flood Insurance.

THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama will be closely monitoring this week's Senate happenings, but he also has a few other items on his agenda. Today, he will meet with with a member of his Council on Foreign Relations, and with President Fernandez of the Domincan Republic. Nothing else is known yet about what's on the President's schedule.

That's it for now, leave some comments!

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