Friday, February 06, 2009

Legislative Update V

After much drama and voting on various amendments all week, the Senate has reached a "compromise" fashioned by a handful of moderate Dems and Republicans that will cut the stimulus down to $827 billion and secure the 60 votes needed to pass a cloture vote. It should be passed by Tuesday where it then will go into conference with the House version that is actually less, $819 billion (while $100 billion of spending was cut from the Senate version, there are more tax cuts). Some of the funding is likely to be restored there, so the final package should be back to the $800 billion-plus sought by the Obama administration.

The House of Representatives passed the Senate's version of the bill expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program and it was signed into law by President Obama, saying it is a "down payment" on his promise to enact universal health care. The House, following the Senate, also quickly passed a 4-month delay to TV digitial transition to June 12th, which President Obama will also sign into law.

While the Obama administration faced some bad cabinet news this week when Daschle and Killefer had to withdraw their names from consideration, it wasn't all bad. Eric Holder was confirmed as Attorney General with 75 votes and officially sworn, as was Hillary Clinton over at State. Republicans again delayed a committee vote on Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary, but the Senate Armed Services Committee voted out William Lynn, nominated to be deputy defense secretary. President Obama will nominate Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran from Illinois who ran for Congress in 2006, as the assistant secretary of Veteran's Affairs.

Other appointees who remain to be confirmed are Ron Kirk as U.S. Trade Representative, Judd Gregg as Commerce Secretary, and whomever President Obama chooses to head up Health and Human Services now.

UPDATE: Obama makes the digital delay official.

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