Monday, July 26, 2010

The Weekly Strike-7/26-8/1

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike, where we'll preview the week in politics. It must be an exciting week in politics if the President will spend Wednesday on the set of The View!

THE WHITE HOUSE: The news dominating the airwaves this morning is over a series of Wikileaked articles from 2002-2009 that portray the Afghan war in a far more negative light than has been publicly known. The articles are often low level reports from the field, lamenting the Taliban's resurgence, the lack of resources for U.S. troops and commanders, and the seemingly ill-defined mission.

The White House is expressing anger about the leak itself, not the content of the leaked material. I think this is a major mistake. I'm somewhat sensitive to protecting state secrets, but I think the American people need complete disclosure when making judgments as to whether we should continue our fight in Afghanistan. We didn't need 92,000 pages of leaked materials to tell us that the situation there is precarious, but I think these papers might reinforce the country's broader angst about what is now America's longest war. The war in Afghanistan is a ticking time bomb for this administration. They can let the issue fester for awhile, hoping the surge works and the issue goes away, but if it doesn't, it will not only be bad for our country, but also very damaging politically. That's why I hope the 2011 deadline to begin troop withdrawals isn't an empty promise.

The schedule for the President this week seems to be pretty quiet so far. His only scheduled public appearance today is a ceremony at the White House commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

THE SENATE: The world's most deliberative and unproductive body will take aim at two pieces of legislation this week. Tomorrow, Majority Leader Reid will try to cobble together the 60 votes needed to begin debate on the DISCLOSE Act. The bill, which has already passed the House, will place new rules on corporations financing political campaigns. Reid had hoped to finish the bill soon enough that the provisions would be in place for this fall's election, but that doesn't seem too likely at this point. Republicans, of course, are pretty unified in opposition to this measure. One of the moderates in the Senate, Scott Brown (MA), has already come out in opposition to the bill. Hopes for the Democrats will rest, as usual, with Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. If Democrats can hold their ranks together and get one of those two Senators on board, the bill will advance.

The Senate will also presumably finish work on the Small Business lending bill. The Senate cut off debate on the bill last Thursday, which should set the stage for a final vote this week. I would expect the House to approve the legislation quickly thereafter and send it along to President Obama. With time running out before the midterm elections, this is one of the few bills Democrats may be able to pass that can help alleviate the jobs situation.

THE HOUSE: It looks like the House will finish its work period this Friday, and it won't be among it's most productive. However, this week's House schedule looks reasonably packed. Starting today, the House will consider various measures under suspension of the rules. Among those measures are bills that are part of the new so-called "Made in America" agenda, which is a House Democratic initiative to promote domestic industry and jobs. The House will take up bills to come up with a strategy for national manufacturing, and another bill that invests money in clean energy technology and exports.

The House will then proceed to consideration of two of the twelve annual appropriations bills, these ones funding Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, as well as Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. These bills will pass the House, but probably won't see the light of day in the Senate. I expect that all the appropriations bills will be packaged into an omnibus measure come December. The fiscal year ends September 30th, and I expect Congress to continue current funding levels through the fall elections.

Finally, the House will give final approval to the war funding bill. Liberals tried to attach domestic spending to the bill, but the Senate rejected these add-ons, which included funding for state and local governments, as well as summer jobs (might be a little late for that anyway). House leaders will thus be forced to vote simply on the war funding. I expect the bill to pass with the support of moderate Democrats and Republicans, but very few liberal Democrats.

That's it for now, see you tonight!

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