White House Cheat Sheet: A Second Bite At the Apple?
As House and Senate negotiators prepared for the potentially arduous process of working out the differences between the two economic stimulus plans passed over the past week, Vice President Biden voiced optimism that some Republicans will ultimately vote for the final product.
"More than a handful of Senate Republicans and more than a couple dozen in the House," could back the legislation once it emerges from conference, Biden predicted to the Post's David Broder in an interview Tuesday in the White House.
In the House not a single Republican voted for the original bill while just three GOP senators -- Arlen Specter (Pa.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) -- crossed party lines to back the legislation yesterday.
Biden added that there were "a couple dozen" Republicans who would not have opposed the bill if they were the deciding vote and might reverse their "no" votes when the conference committee produced a final bill.
The timetable for resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions is not entirely clear. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) said Tuesday night on MSNBC that speed was critical but that there were also serious differences between the two bills that needed to be worked out. One informed Capitol Hill Democrat predicted that Congress would postpone its Presidents' Day break, set to begin Friday, and "work through the weekend" to report a bill out of the conference committee. (The conference committees is comprised of five Senators and five House members with three Democrats and two Republicans from each chamber. Full list here.)
Theoretically, any delay in a vote on final passage gives lawmakers a window in which to hear from their constituents on the bill and, if necessary, reconsider their initial vote.
Those fence-sitters are certain to come under intense pressure over the next week or so as Republican leaders seek to keep their ranks in line while the White House seeks to make good on its original pledge for bipartisanship.
During a press briefing aboard Air Force One yesterday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made clear that the President Obama continued to meet one on one with members of Congress about the bill and said the chief executive would be "involved" and "engaged" going forward.
While the initial votes in the House and Senate were a first opportunity for Obama to gauge his ability to break down partisan gridlock via the use of political capital and the bully pulpit the presidency affords, the vote on final passage will be a truer test.
Sked Stuff: President Obama and the man-who-almost-was-vice-president -- also known as Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine -- will be in northern Virginia this morning to visit the final leg of the Fairfax County Parkway, reports the Post's Mike Shear. The event is designed to show how the money allocated in Obama's economic stimulus package can be put to immediate use to fund infrastructure improvements. It's also the first joint public appearance between Obama and Kaine since the Virginia governor was named by the president as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee back in January.
A New Name in HHS Mix: As deliberations over the next head of the department of Health and Human Services continue, a new name has emerged as a potential pick: Lloyd Dean. Dean, who is African American, is the head of Catholic Healthcare West, a non-profit health provider based in northern California, and is being pushed for the job by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. (Dean was named by Newsom to a committee that passed universal health care for San Francisco.) Add Dean's name to a list that still appears to be headed by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius but also includes Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Obama presidential transition chief John Podesta.
McCain -- I'm Running: Arizona Sen. John McCain sent a fundraising email to supporters asserting his plans to seek reelection in 2010. "Some have wondered, after my hard-fought presidential campaign, if I plan to run for reelection to the United States Senate," McCain wrote. "I want you to know that I do intend to seek reelection." McCain goes on to attack Democrats on Capitol Hill for pushing the "same failed policies and wasteful spending of the past" in regards the current fight over the economic stimulus plan. McCain's decision -- assuming he sticks by it -- will likely remove Arizona as a targeted state in the 2010 Senate fight as he remains a popular figure statewide.
Paterson To Set Special Date (Finally): After several weeks of hemming and hawing, Gov. David Paterson appears ready to announce the date of the special election to replace appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in the 20th congressional district. Paterson told a local television station yesterday that he would announce the schedule for the special today; under state law, once Paterson declares the seat vacant the special election must occur within 30 to 40 days. Both parties have already picked their nominees: state Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco will carry the Republican banner and wealthy businessman Scott Murphy will be the Democratic standard-bearer. A poll released recently by Tedisco's campaign showed him leading 50 percent to 29 percent although that survey is almost entirely a test of name identification at this early point in the race. The district is extremely competitive and the special election will receive significant attention from both national parties.
Scott Howell -- Primary King: The news that Scott Howell & Associates had inked former eBay president Meg Whitman, who is running for the Republican nomination in the California governor's race, means that the GOP media firm will play a major part in three of the best primaries in the country in 2010. In addition to Whitman, Howell is working for Rep. Jerry Moran who is running against Rep. Todd Tiahrt in the open seat race to replace Sen. Sam Brownback (R) and for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison who is preparing to take on Gov. Rick Perry next year.
He Ain't Heavy...: Anyone who has spent more than five minutes in Washington knows Brad Woodhouse -- the motor-mouthed Democratic operative who heads Americans United for Change, a liberal advocacy group. Fewer are familiar with his younger brother, Dallas, a Republican working for a conservative organization -- Americans for Prosperity -- down in the duo's home state of North Carolina. In keeping with the "if one Woodhouse is good, two is better" theory, the Raleigh News & Observer put a story about the dueling Woodhouses on its front page earlier this week -- noting that the the organizations of Brad and Dallas are both currently running radio ads in the state on the stimulus bill. Of her sons, Joyce Woodhouse says: "I tell them they're not going to talk about politics, but that's just foolish because they always get into it. They both get very loud." Truer words were never spoken.
Say What?: "Oh, gracious God, thank you so much!" -- Florida college student Julio Osegueda celebrating that he was chosen by President Obama to ask a question during a town hall meeting in Fort Myers. Hours later, Osegueda was on CNN describing the experience. Ah, the media.
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