12:40 p.m. ET: President Obama's huddle with the CHC is now over, and according to the White House is was a "robust and strategic meeting," which is slightly different than the "frank and open" formulation usually applied to such discussions. Immigration was a key topic, though the White House did not say whether the president made any specific pledges on the subject. Obama also announced during the meeting that he will be going to Mexico next month to meet with President Felipe Calderon. We'll have to wait for members of the Hispanic caucus to start leaking before we'll know what else was said during the gathering.
8 a.m. ET: Amid a withering attack on his administration's handling of the AIG bonus controversy, President Obama snapped back Tuesday at those critics who said he should tackle only "one problem at a time" and suggested, as he has before, that he is perfectly capable of handling multiple issues at once.
Later this morning, Obama is slated to meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the White House before he heads to California for two days. The primary topic on the agenda will be immigration, which has gotten relatively little attention from this administration so far. Think back to the two major domestic issues of George W. Bush's second term -- immigration and high gas prices. The sputtering economy has moved both topics out of the spotlight for now. Obama has still talked quite a bit about energy reform. But what about immigration? Obama said last month that he is "very committed" to making comprehensive reform happen and that he hoped to see legislation drafted "over the next several months." Will he be any more specific with the CHC, and is there really room on his plate for the issue this year?
The immigration issue is reportedly at play in Obama's choice for a key civil rights post at the Justice Department. Latino leaders believe that the administration offered the position to Thomas Saenz, and then withdrew the offer when conservatives stirred up opposition based on his record on immigration. This may well come up in today's CHC meeting, too.
And now, a plug: Having trouble keeping track of all of Obama's personnel nominations (and withdrawals)? Check out Head Count, our new online feature that lets you sort and study all the president's men and women in lots of different ways. After that rough patch early on in his term, Obama seems to have steadied himself on the appointment front. But all is not completely calm. A handful of Republican senators are ramping up their effort to derail Christopher Hill's nomination as ambassador to Iraq, nominally because of his lack of experience in the region but more likely because they think he was too soft in his dealings with North Korea.
Gary Locke gets a Senate confirmation hearing today for his nomination to be Commerce secretary, during which he will be asked by Republicans about work he did for, and political donations he received from, some potentially controversial Chinese individuals and companies. Ellen Tauscher will presumably have a smooth ride before her congressional colleagues, now that she is the reported pick for an arms control post at the State Department.
One Obama aide who is not in trouble, at least according to the White House, is Tim Geithner. The administration made clear Tuesday, via Rahm Emanuel, that the Treasury secretary "more than has the president’s complete confidence" despite the pummeling he's getting for his handling of AIG. (More than complete? What does that mean?) On the other end of the spectrum, it seems that no one in Washington has much confidence in Edward Liddy, the AIG CEO who approved the bonuses and will appear at a House hearing that looks certain to be a circus. Can he fend off an angry mob over the bonus issue while still running the teetering insurance giant? Hopefully, like Obama, he can handle more than one problem at a time.
March 18, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
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