Today in Washington – May 18, 2010
I should rename my post today — “Today in Little Rock, Arkansas” or “Today in Lexington, Kentucky” or even “Today in Pennsylvania” — because all eyes in Washington will be watching to see if incumbent Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and/or Arlen Specter (RD-PA) lose in their respective primaries. Also, inside the beltway eyes will be on Kentucky to see if Rand Paul, the ultimate outsider, can beat the Republican hand picked candidate for the Kentucky Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY). Today is a great day for political junkies.
The Senate and the House will be doing some work today. The Senate will work on Financial Services Reform in anticipation of a cloture vote on Wednesday. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be the subject of numerous hearings in the House and Senate. Also, the START Treaty will be the subject of a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Don’t forget Elena Kagan.Conservatives should watch these issues today:
- You’re Fired – Who will be the next incumbent to fall. Senator Bob Bennett of Utah has already been given his unconditional release from his duties as a Senator by the Republican party of Utah and the same may happen to Senators Specter and Lincoln today. Senator Arlen Specter is in a dead heat to retain his seat in PA. From USA Today, “In Pennsylvania, incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter is fighting for his political survival against Rep. Joe Sestak for the Democratic Senate nomination. Polls earlier this week found the two in a dead heat with a large number of voters still undecided.” Specter is President Obama’s endorsed candidate, yet he may lose today. Clearly, many Democrats are rejecting President Obama’s endorsed choice for Senate in PA and this may be an indication of weakness of the part of the President within his own party. In Kentucky, the Rand Paul v. Trey Grayson battle is a battle of the elites versus the conservative/libertarian hard liners. The battle of Kentucky is between “Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s fight against Bowling Green eye surgeon Rand Paul for the Republican Senate nomination. Grayson has been endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the state’s senior Republican, and a host of others, but Paul, son of Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, has gained momentum by courting the anti-tax ‘tea party’ movement.” Another incumbent in trouble is Blanche Lincoln. “In Arkansas, incumbent Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln is fending off a challenge from the left by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Several unions, angered over Lincoln’s middle-of-the-road approach during the debate on President Obama’s health care law, are backing Halter. There’s a third candidate in the race, too. If no candidate wins a majority than the highest vote getters will head toward a June 8 runoff.” There is a good chance that either Specter or Lincoln or both will joing Senator Bob Bennett in the Lame Duck Caucus.
- Financial Services Deform – The debate on Financial Services so called Reform is winding down and the New York Times reports that “the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, is intent on finishing the financial regulatory legislation this week. And in a speech on Monday he warned about the consequences of delay, a message clearly intended for Republicans who have worked to draw out the debate even though they agree with the bill and expect it to be adopted. ‘The end must come,’ Mr. Reid said. ‘The time has come to begin work sending this to conference so we can have a bill go to the president.’” The Senate went on record unanimously to prevent your tax dollars to bail out Greece yesterday, yet this language may be deleted from the final bill presented to the President. According to the New York Times, “by a vote of 94-0, the Senate also approved a largely symbolic amendment by Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, seeking to prevent federal money from being used by the International Monetary Fund to bail out foreign governments. Mr. Cornyn’s proposal may not survive when the Senate bill is reconciled with the version of the financial regulation legislation approved by the House in December. But it is part of an overall Republican political strategy to keep attention focused on unpopular government bailouts, which are helping to foster an anti-incumbent mood.” A conference is when the House and Senate get together to work out differences between a House and Senate passed bill. This story indicates that this conference will allow the Obama Administration to rewrite the bill and get rid of one unanimously approved amendment. Expect the Fed Transparency and anti-Greece bailout language to get modified or even cut out of the bill. Conservatives in the Senate have the power to block the appointment of conferees and it will be interesting to see if any Senators stands up for the taxpayer.
There is a hearing on the START Treaty today in the Senate and many hearings on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but all eyes will be away from Capitol Hill today to see what happens in Arkansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.