By John Amick
8 a.m. ET: President Obama's main focus today will shift back to the economy, from health care yesterday, as he and Attorney General Eric Holder travel to Columbus, Ohio, to attend a police graduation ceremony. The jobs of the 26 officers to be sworn in were saved by economic stimulus money.
Meanwhile, the omnibus spending bill steaming through Congress was sidetracked last night, if only temporarily. Short of one vote to advance the legislation, Democratic leaders were forced to offer a stopgap measure to be debated today in the House. The measure aims to keep the government funded through Tuesday, when Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes the Senate will vote on the $410 billion measure to get the government through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. The delay will allow for a dozen yet-to-be-considered amendments, mostly from Republicans, a point that Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said previously concerned hesitant GOP senators. Meanwhile, Reid wrangled with a member of his own party, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez who opposed the bill, claiming it weakened sanctions against Cuba.
All of this seems an embarrassment to Democratic leaders and President Obama who will undoubtedly hear more Republican cries of over-spending and earmark-enabling throughout the weekend. Speaking of earmarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she will be more than happy to discuss the earmark process ... after the omnibus bill is passed. This follows Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's comments earlier in the week: "I don’t think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do.” Whether anyone is really serious about earmark reform remains to be seen.
Democrats aren't the only ones hoping this weekend goes by quick. RNC Chairman Michael Steele's tumultuous week comes to an end with some current and former rivals sniping about his tenure atop the Republican National Committee thus far. As Steele announced a $1 million cash infusion into the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Katon Dawson, the runner-up to Steele during the RNC chairmanship race, said, “It wouldn’t have taken me four weeks to give them the money." This follows the continued fallout between Steele and conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, which has some suggesting a bow-out by Steele. For his part, Limbaugh has moved on to bigger fish, President Obama and the White House.
Finally, a hearing will be held today in San Francisco pertaining to a motion by Justice Department lawyers that the lawsuit filed by alleged enemy combatant Jose Padilla against former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Yoo for Yoo's legal memos while working for the Bush administration were illegal. The case brings up questions of the Obama administration's willingness to defend Yoo.
March 6, 2009; 8:10 AM ET
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