8 a.m. ET: The largely newsless confirmation saga of Sonia Sotomayor will make news today, as the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on sending the first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee to the full chamber for consideration.
Among committee Republicans, only Lindsey Graham is expected to vote "aye," meaning the tally will likely favor the nominee, 13-6. (John Roberts' panel vote was 13-5, while Samuel Alito's was 10-8.) Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch both plan to cast their first-ever votes against a Supreme Court nominee today, and they attribute their opposition as much to the changing partisan atmosphere in the Senate as they do to Sotomayor's record. "I think it's a whole new ballgame, a lot different than I approached it with [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg and [Stephen] Breyer," Grassley told the Los Angeles Times.
Will Republicans remain similarly unified on the Senate floor? And will their opposition matter in 2010? Politico mines today's Daybook in a way that will please the Democratic National Committee, noting, "Republicans’ dilemma in connecting with the growing Hispanic electorate will be on vivid display Tuesday," as GOP senators will be voting against Sotomayor while Tim Kaine will be speaking -- partly in Spanish -- at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza. But conservatives believe the tally will work in their favor. "Republicans can reap significant political benefits by voting against her confirmation and making her an issue in key races next year," Ralph Reed declared in a memo to his allies. The full Senate is expected to vote on Sotomayor by Aug. 7, but the political winners and losers may not be clear until next fall.
As for the health-care fight, House leaders reiterated Monday night that there's no way a reform bill will pass the House by this Friday, when the chamber is scheduled to begin its recess. But they still hold out the possibility that the chamber could stay in session through the weekend or the beginning of next week to complete its work. Marathon talks broke up Monday evening with a new compromise offer on the table from Henry Waxman to Blue Dog Democrats, whose opposition thus far has prevented the reform bill's being brought up in the Energy and Commerce Committee. (Paul Krugman says this morning that "the Blue Dogs aren’t making sense.") Despite those negotiations, the Wall Street Journal judges, "Prospects dimmed for getting a full House vote on a consensus health-care bill this week."
In the Senate, all eyes are on Max Baucus, who is working to get a bill ready for Finance Committee markup before recess begins Aug. 7. "What is Max Baucus doing?" Ezra Klein asks, noting that the Finance Chairman's secretive approach has "created a huge amount of uncertainty at the center of health-care reform." The New York Times tells us the Senate reform bill is being hashed out by just six senators (and following The Rules of Washington Journalism, the story also tells us what they're eating at their meetings). Jim DeMint is not one of those six senators, but he has emerged as a leader of the opposition on the issue, the Washington Post reports.
Lest you thought the Henry Louis Gates story was over, it's not. Gates, Obama and Joseph Crowley will meet at the White House for a beer Thursday night. Ah, to be a fly on the wall. According to the Associated Press, "Crowley apparently likes Blue Moon beer. Gates favors Red Stripe or Beck's," while Obama supposedly just prefers Budweiser. How will they make it work? And do we think Obama really drinks Budweiser in private, or something fancier? Maybe this meeting isn't such a good idea.
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