Monday, July 19, 2010

The Weekly Strike-7/19-7/25

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. It promises to be a pretty busy week in politics, so let's get right to it.

THE SENATE: Even after the passage of landmark Wall Street Reform last week, most eyes will again be focused on the United States Senate. Tomorrow, the newest Senator, Carte Goodwin of West Virginia, will be sworn into office by Vice President Biden. Soon afterward, the Senate will vote on the long-stalled bill to extend unemployment benefits to those most hurt by the recession. Democrats should finally have the 60 votes necessary to advance the bill. If the Senate passes the House-passed bill unchanged, the President will sign it into law this week, and the benefits will go into effect retroactively.

The Senate will also try to finish a bill providing loans to small businesses, though Republicans have been successful so far in obstructing the bill's consideration.

Over in the committee realm, the Senate Judiciary panel will vote on the nomination of Elena Kagan to be a Supreme Court Justice. Since we've heard pretty much nothing on her nomination since her confirmation hearings a few weeks ago, I expect her to be confirmed quite easily. All 12 Democrats on the committee almost certainly will support her nomination (even former critic Arlen Specter has announced his support). Of the 7 Republicans on the committee, only Lindsay Graham (SC) might cross party lines on Kagan's behalf. A vote in the full Senate is expected during the first week in August.

Majority Leader Reid wants to bring two other important bills up before that time, though I'm certainly skeptical. One bill would be a scaled-down energy bill that focused on investments in clean energy paired with carbon pricing for the utilities sector. Republicans may vote to allow consideration of the bill just so they can highlight their opposition to it, but I don't see any Republicans crossing over to support the legislation during an election year. So far, Democrat Ben Nelson (NE) has already voiced his opposition. The newest West Virginia Senator didn't sound very enthusiastic about the bill either.

Democrats also hoped to move on the House-passed campaign finance bill (the DISCLOSE Act), but with moderate Republicans Brown (MA) and Snowe (ME) in opposition, the bill's chances are looking pretty dim. Thus, with financial reform complete, and the Senate still dealing with constant obstruction and stagnation, we may have seen the last of the major pieces of legislation in the 111th Congress.

THE HOUSE: The House has a much more quiet week, as they continue to await action from their Senate counterparts. After doing suspension bills today and tomorrow, the House will take up a bill that requires the national flood insurance program to enable the purchase of "multiperil" coverage. The House will also take up the unemployment bill if the Senate makes any changes to it.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President will start the week with a well-timed push for the unemployment insurance extension. Apparently, he will (for the first time in recent memory) tell the stories of real Americans who have been hurt by the Republicans obstruction. He should have been doing this much earlier, so that he could create a narrative about the Republicans only looking out for their wealthy friends, while he is protecting the working man hurt by the recession. Anything he does now might be too late to make a difference in the mind of voters ahead of the election. The President will also meet today with former Senator and astronaut John Glenn (D-OH) to discuss space policy.

Later in the week, the President will sign the financial reform bill into law at a large White House signing ceremony. He also plans to visit Illinois to campaign for the Democrat running for Obama's old Senate seat.

That's it for now, see you this evening.

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