Friday, April 24, 2009

Legislative Update XI

The White House and Congressional Democrats have come to a budget deal that includes reconciliation instructions for health-care legislation later this year. This would allow Democrats to pass a reform measure with a simple majority in the Senate, but the changes would have to renewed after 10 years. Republicans have cried afoul over this possibility, despite the fact that they used it to pass the Bush tax cuts, but Rep. Ryan admitted today it is within the Democrats rights to do so having won the election. My concern is that the changes expire and we could have a Republican president and/or Congress again in ten years, but the political calculation is probably that it is better to get it now and, if it's successful, it'll be too hard to let die.

The Senate voted 92-4 to create an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the causes of the financial crisis and the House of Representatives voted 342-78 to send billions of dollars to thousands of communities to help them hire and retain 50,000 police officers, reviving a Clinton-era "cops on the streets" program that withered under the Bush administration.

Senate Republicans blocked a confirmation vote on Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary over her pro-choice views. A cloture vote could happen on Tuesday.

Lastly, former Vice President Al Gore has come out in support of the climate change bill that is being worked on in the House.

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