Senate vote came down 63-37 to mostly yawns all around. There was no realistic way Elena Kagan wasn’t going to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
August 5, 2010
July 12, 2010
Not only did “family values” Republican David Vitter not resign after a scandal involving frequenting prostitutes to service an infantilism fetish, he’s now doubling down on challenging the voters in his district to reelect someone who is unfit to serve by supporting lawsuits claiming Obama is not a United States citizen.
The state of Hawaii cleared this matter up long, long ago, and really, don’t you think between Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the general someone would have used this issue as a devastating image and legal hammer is there was anything — and I mean any tiny shred — that gave credence to the idea Obama couldn’t legally serve as president.
From the link:
Vitter, who is running for re-election, made the comments at a town hall event on Sunday when a constituent asked what he would do about what the questioner said was Obama’s ”refusal to produce a valid birth certificate.”
May 11, 2010
At least according to Mike Allen’s hypothetical Senate vote.
From today’s Playbook:
PLAYBOOK FORECAST: Elena Kagan will be confirmed with 65 votes — 3 fewer than Justice Sotomayor, and 4 more than Kagan got for solicitor general last year. Here’s the math, from someone smarter than us (we welcome your quibbles/rebuttals): For solicitor general, Kagan got 61 ayes and 31 nays. Safe to assume if you were one of the 31 Republicans voting nay then, you can’t vote aye this time? Probably. Of the 61 ayes, seven were Republicans: Collins, Snowe, Gregg, Hatch, Kyl, Lugar and Coburn. After conservatives flexed their muscles in Utah last weekend (the Bennett effect), it’s hard to see Coburn, Hatch or Kyl voting for her this time. So that would theoretically put her at 58. But Specter voted no, and could now be expected to vote yes. So that’s 59. Four Democrats missed the vote. Of these, Boxer, Klobuchar, and Murray would be yes votes. So that’s 62. The fourth missing Democrat was Kennedy. His successor, Brown, might be gettable. (Is the Massachusetts senator really going to vote against the Harvard Law dean?) So that’d be 63. And Franken was not seated yet last time, but would be a yes now. So 64. Three Republicans did not vote: Cochran, Ensign and Graham. Of these, Graham is gettable, but it would be tough to envision either of the other two Republicans voting for her. So that puts her at 65. That’s with every Democrat (including Ben Nelson) voting yes, as well as the two Maine-iacs, Scott Brown, Judd Gregg, Lugar and Graham. Roll call on Kagan for solicitor general.
April 22, 2010
… shoots foot.
Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked an effort by Democrats to start debate on legislation to tighten regulation of the nation’s financial system, and the two sides traded bitter accusations about who was standing in the way of a bipartisan agreement.
There is some political jujitsu going on right now, and the GOP stands to lose a lot more than the financial reform debate.
Also from the link:
The majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, asked Republicans to agree to begin debating the measure, which would impose a sweeping regulatory framework on Wall Street and big financial institutions. But the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, objected, saying Democrats were pre-empting negotiations to reach a deal.
McConnell has a great point about negotiations, but his policy of all-out obstruction against all things Democrat in the legislature is working against him here. The Dems are very happy to force the GOP to block this move and substantially raise the floor of compromise. The longer the GOP opposes debate on the bill, the more the party appears to be in the pocket of Wall Street.
Fast forward to November and you’ll find a lot of ads hammering this point home to an electorate very, very sick of Wall Street and all things existing in the rarefied air of high finance. The economy is likely still going to be in the tank by the time election day rolls around and the GOP stands to gain, maybe gain a lot. The one thing it does not need is to be saddled with a tangible partnership with those evil-doers on Wall Street. And that is what has already started with today’s move.
Here’s the New Republic’s Jon Chait three days ago on why the Dems eagerly anticipated this move:
Chris Dodd says the Senate is going to hold a vote on his bill Wednesday or Thursday. Republicans still say they can muster 41 votes in opposition. The ideal for Democrats would be to have the whole GOP vote to filibuster the bill, then have a huge debate, and then have one or more Republicans defect and pass the bill anyway. Then you get an accomplishment and a chance to expose the GOP as carrying water for Wall Street.
March 2, 2010
… the unemployed regain jobless benefits and the GOP heaves a great sigh of relief. And Bunning’s next opponent has a goldmine of opposition ad material.
From the link:
The Senate headed reached a resolution of an impasse over unemployment pay on Tuesday night after Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, dropped his objection to extending jobless benefits in exchange for a largely symbolic vote on paying for the aid.
Mr. Bunning’s agreement to relent essentially short-circuited an intensifying political battle that had already resulted in 2,000 workers at the Department of Transportation being furloughed without pay and in the temporary cutoff of benefits to thousands of out-of-work Americans.
It came after Mr. Bunning’s fellow Republicans began to air their own concerns about how the Senate blockade had the potential to damage their political brand while also having a direct impact on their constituents. The Senate later voted 78 to 19 to renew the programs.
January 22, 2010
Here’s a quick (a little over three minutes) recap on what Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts means in terms of the current political climate.
From the inbox, an introduction for the clip:
Our video team just produced a short video about the Brown campaign that discusses the real meaning of Tuesday’s election. Cato scholars John Samples and David Boaz contend that Tuesday’s election sent a message to Democrats that they have clearly overreached, but Republicans need to be careful and realize that they’re still not very popular either.
January 20, 2010
(Update — bold emphasis added because it seems it takes a sledgehammer to make a fiscal point right now.)
I’m sure there’s a lot of both going on behind the Democratic Party scenes. There’s a lot of both going on publicly along with plenty of finger pointing, blaming and dissembling among the left blogosphere. The simple fact is health care reform in its current Congressional form has not, and almost certainly will not, pass because of Democratic ham-fisted policy making. But the GOP is behaving shamefully and shamelessly as an opposition party with no alternative ideas and zero compromise on a very necessary evil.
Yes, health care reform is a very necessary evil. Honest libertarians can be excused from the argument, but fiscal conservatives are lying to themselves or everyone else when they deny health care reform must occur at some point in the near future. Health care as a percentage of income is becoming unmanageable and health insurance costs are killing businesses both large and small.
Without reform health care in the United States will continue to bankrupt people at higher and higher levels of income, and cause untold suffering and early death for the uninsured. And at a point in time looming very soon it will simply bankrupt the entire nation. I’m no fan of too much government influence anywhere, but after looking over the arguments (and sorting through the hyperventilated crap from both the left and the right) I am convinced reform at the federal level is now a necessary evil. Any fiscal conservative who looks at the numbers honestly will come to the same conclusion.
Some funny (interesting, not hah hah) facts about the situation on the ground now that Brown has taken over Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat: the oft pointed out irony that Kennedy’s old seat will end his signature legislation; the fact the Massachusetts electorate already has a state run plan along the lines of federal health care reform so scuttling the current reform efforts causes them no significant pain; that the new GOP senator voted for the Massachusetts plan, but has declared opposition to essentially the same plan on the federal level; the heaviest opposition to health care reform is found amongst voters who either are already in, or soon will be, the massive federal subsidy of Medicare or Medicaid and basically fear their benefits being harmed in some way. Talk about wanting to selfishly eat your children. No health care reform equals a potentially very bleak future for everyone middle aged on down.
January 19, 2010
Not any great surprise to anyone who’s been watching the lead-up to this special election. Scott Brown takes over Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat and deals quite a blow to any flexibility the Democrats have with health care reform. By all accounts, Brown’s opponent, Martha Coakley, ran a positively dreadful campaign and even had the embarrassment of leaking a memo today while voting was still in progress with a weak sauce list of excuses why she failed to keep the Senate at 60 Democratic seats.
Another pretty weak move was to hold a press conference — also while voting was still in progress — claiming “voting irregularities” to try and get a fingernail-hold on any hope of stretching the final verdict out a bit further.
All in all the Defeatocrats got just what they deserve in this election. And given the political reality of Massachusetts Brown will likely be perfunctorily voted out of office in 2012.
From the link on the excuse list (second link), Marc Ambinder’s excellent fisking of the memo (Ambinder’s comments in bold):
Claims about Coakley’s Scant Campaigning and Miscues Were exaggerated
— Because of the failure of national Democrats to support Coakley, she was forced to devote significant time to fundraising in December. She also released a variety of plans in December and had a public event nearly every day.
[Coakley had 19 events after the primary through Sunday; Scott Brown had 66.]
January 7, 2010
… with yesterday’s announcements that Senators Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota aren’t going to defend their seats in November. That’s a lot of combined years of Congressional experience stepping back from the table. The Democrats are finding owning all of D.C. isn’t a walk in the park, and holding a governing coalition together is pretty tough.
Make no mistake, the elections are still quite a ways off and political winds blow notoriously fickle, but Obama’s first year in office has been tough on the Democrats. Blue Dogs are under attack both at home in the ballot box and from progressive purists in the blogosphere who are acting no less self-destructively than far-right GOPers who want to purge RINOs from the shrinking Republican tent.
If — and this possibility became a bit more probable with yesterday’s news — the Democrats suffer shockingly large defeats at the polls in November and (gasp!) actually lose control of the Senate, I wonder if the loony progressives who are hell-bent on battling a pragmatic and realistic president from their own party and appear to value ideology over governance will feel some measure of blame?
Probably not, and they’ll still be confused on why they’ll continue to be known as Defeatocrats.
October 16, 2009
From the link:
The Obama administration should spend more money from the $700 billion bank rescue on programs to increase lending to small businesses, said Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat on the banking committee.
Warner and other lawmakers are pushing regulators to consider ways to jumpstart credit to small companies, which he says is dwindling even after efforts to provide government support. The senator urged action at a meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus yesterday.
Treasury Department officials said they are in discussions with Warner, Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat of Louisiana, and Republican Olympia Snowe from Maine, on how to address the issue, either through the Troubled Asset Relief Program or new legislation. A $15 billion program to purchase pools of small- business loans, announced in March, has attracted little interest even though it’s ready for use, an administration official said.
“The original notion of the TARP was, we were going to help Main Street by bailing out Wall Street,” Warner said in an interview. “We’ve seen Wall Street recover, but we have not seen Main Street reap the direct benefits.”
August 26, 2009
Whatever your opinion of the longtime senator from Massachusetts as a man, a statesman or simply as a politician, you have to admit he played the game in D.C. for as long and as well as anyone in modern memory. Many senators serve a very long time, very few remain so engaged and relevant their entire time in office. Until his sudden illness Ted was an active participant on Capital Hill.
From the linked NYT obituary:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew acclaim and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.
The death of Mr. Kennedy, who had been battling brain cancer, was announced Wednesday morning in a statement by the Kennedy family, which was already mourning the death of the senator’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver two weeks earlier.
“Edward M. Kennedy — the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port,” the statement said. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.”
August 6, 2009
No surprise there. The Senate vote ended up 68-31.
Congrats to the first Puerto Rican, and Hispanic, on the Supreme Court.
June 30, 2009
In a move that should have happened long ago, Al Franken has finally been declared winner of the Minnesota Senate seat up for grabs last year. In carrying on his losing fight for the seat Norm Coleman probably shredded his political future in Minnesota and Governor Tim Pawlenty did likewise.
It has been guessed that Pawlenty was doing some major water carrying for the national GOP to keep an extra Democrat out of the Senate chambers for an extra few months in exchange for remaining a national player. The Franken saga is so ridicoulous, and such a smear on what most Americans consider our democratic process Pawlenty has most likely permanently sullied his political future as well.
From the link:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty had indicated as late as Monday that he was willing to certify Mr. Franken as the winner once the state’s highest court decided the recount and Mr. Coleman’s battle. On CNN on Sunday, Mr. Pawlenty said: “I’m prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light.”
As long as Mr. Coleman contests this no further, Mr. Franken will become the Democrats’ much coveted 60th vote. That is the number required to avert filibusters, and with both Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Robert C. Byrd absent due to illness, the Democrats have sometimes scrambled to make sure they had lined up enough votes.
April 14, 2009
Norm Coleman has lost yet another court battle. He won’t be a senator for Minnesota, but he’s continuing his tilting at windmillsto prevent Al Franken from being seated.
Not sure what he’s up to here, unless he’s following orders from the national party to keep one more Democratic senator out of the chambers for a little while longer. From what I’ve read Coleman has completely burned all his bridges in Minnesota, among the general population and with the state’s GOP. Governor Tim Pawlenty is probably seriously harming his reelection hopes as well by not certifying the election.
From the link:
A three-judge state panel Monday declared Al Franken, a Democrat, the victor in a Senate race here that has dragged Minnesota through prolonged litigation and recounts. The panel dismissed a challenge by Norm Coleman, the Republican who had held the seat, to a count that left the two men separated by 312 votes out of nearly 3 million cast.
“I would call on Senator Coleman to allow me to get to work as soon as possible,” Mr. Franken said after the ruling.
But that seems unlikely. Lawyers for Mr. Coleman immediately announced that they would appeal the decision to the state’s highest court.
The promise of additional litigation means that Minnesota could go without a second senator for weeks, and potentially months, before a victor is certified in the race.
March 30, 2009
… is a long-overdue topic for Congress to take on. Jim Webb introduced “The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009” to address the issue, and here’s a PDF of his Senate floor speech introducing the legislation.
From Webb’s speech:
Let’s start with a premise that I don’t think a lot of Americans are aware of. We have 5% of the world’s population; we have 25% of the world’s known prison population. We have an incarceration rate in the United States, the world’s greatest democracy, that is five times as high as the average incarceration rate of the rest of the world. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice.
These numbers are simply shameful. All Americans ought to be embarrassed when reading this graf from Webb’s intro speech. I hope something tangible comes from this bill.
February 6, 2009
This 538 post is actually about Palin already endorsing the pathetic Rick Perry as Texas governor in 2010, but it touches on another point — that Kay Bailey Hutchison may leave the Senate to run for the seat.
Nate Silver points out Kay Bailey has a significant “what-if” polling lead over Perry. Not surprising since Perry is ineffectual and toadying in a very weak office. For those who don’t know Texas politics, the power rests in the lieutenant governor’s office. The governor is something of a cheerleading figurehead with some actual power and responsibility.
The only reason I could ever see Hutchison covet the office would be as a springboard to the White House. She’s a very effective senator and I’d hate to see the state lose that voice and experience in D.C. Especially since junior senator is the moronic John Cornyn. I shudder to think of “Big, Bad John” as a senior senator.
I also don’t see Hutchison with any hope of getting to Pennsylvania Avenue on the heels of Bush’s eight years of shame and fail.
Palin’s obviously trying to knock a real threat as the female voice of the GOP. It’s no contest, really. Hutchison is intelligent with a strong sense of the political game. Palin is, well Palin — glasses, boobs, hair, dipshit aphorisms, no grasp of policy and absolutely no clue.
Palin’s backing the wrong horse in this race if Hutchison does indeed run. But Kay Bailey, please, please stay in the Senate. The State of Texas needs you. Needs you in D.C., not Austin.
From the link:
The problem is that Rick Perry isn’t especially likely to be Texas’s governor in 2012. Rather, Hutchison is. A Texas Lyceum(.pdf) poll conducted in June showed Hutchison with a 36-22 lead over Perry among prospective Republican primary voters. Hutchison also polled the race herself, and — the usual caveats about internal polls applying — gave herself a 55-31 lead over Perry. And Perry’s approval ratings are well below par, with 42 percent of Texans saying he’s doing a good job as governor and 58 percent a poor one.
January 7, 2009
… will likely take over Obama’s vacant Senate seat. Burris was Blago’s little parting middle finger to the Democratic establishment before going up river for quite a while.
He was asked to not fill the seat while reeling under allegations that have him caught dead-to-rights in the crosshairs of a federal investigation. This is something of a gift for the GOP. Time does change things, but for now Burris will be seen as damaged goods and tainted if only by the nature of his appointment, and the fact Blagojevich got himself into the deep water by virtue of attempting to sell that very appointment.
From the link:
Senate leaders began to clear the way for Roland Burris to take over President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant seat, saying they wanted the issue resolved quickly.
Burris met Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin, a day after his paperwork was rejected at the opening of the 111th Congress.
They called the meeting ”positive” and indicated that the Senate would be open to seating Burris once legal hurdles are resolved and Burris clears the air over his appointment.
Senate officials in both parties, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for Senate members, said there is a growing expectation on Capitol Hill that the saga will end with Burris being seated.
Senate officials say Burris’ appointment still has to be certified by Illinois’ secretary of state.
Burris met for 45 minutes Wednesday morning with Reid and Durbin. Only days ago, both senators were arguing that Burris’ nomination was so tainted that he should not be seated and would be blocked.
December 19, 2008
When your strategy during the entire recount process is little more than weak challenges and constant court petitions, I’d say the goose has been cooked for a long time and everyone knows it.
From the 538 link:
The Coleman campaign is back to court, this time filing a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court that seeks to prevent Minnesota’s Canvassing Board from certifying the results of its recount until an issue with what it claims to be duplicate ballots is resolved. In addition, Coleman requests that the court mandate that the individual precincts double-check for potential duplicate ballots in conjunction with their court-ordered review of rejected absentee ballots, which is set to proceed between now and December 31.
December 15, 2008
As more information comes to light, these findings aren’t surprising. They are still very disturbing and against every principle of our nation’s history before Bush 43 took office.
From the Daily Dish link:
Last week, we reached some closure on a burning and controversial question that has occupied many for many years now. That is the simple question of who was responsible for the abuse, torture, rape and murder of prisoners in American custody in the war on terror, most indelibly captured by the photographic images of Abu Ghraib. The Senate’s bipartisan report, issued with no dissents, reiterates and adds factual context to what we already know. And there is no equivocation in the report.
The person who authorized all the abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib, the man who gave the green light to the abuses in that prison, is the president of the United States, George W. Bush.
November 14, 2008
A series of thoughts from Marc Ambinder.
From the link:
6. The CW in Washington is that Obama wants Clinton in his cabinet more than Clinton wants to be in the cabinet, the theory being that the moment she steps into the administration, she loses her power base, she loses her Senate seat forever, and she loses her voice on domestic policy. She concedes her political identity. Actually, on policy: uncuriously silent in all this is Sen. Joe Biden, who has strong foreign policy ideas of his own and a bigger platform to share them with Obama. Would Clinton become a glorified PR tool for Obama if she accepted the job? A Powell, rather than a Rice?
November 13, 2008
Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the convicted seven-time felon for corruption who announced on his arrival in Alaska after the recent trial he “wasn’t convicted of anything,” will likely lose his seat to Democrat Mark Begich.
Counting votes is taking a while up north, but what was originally considered some voting irregularities seems to be sorting out as all the ballots are counted. This result will throw a new monkey wrench in some of that governor up there, what’s her name? I can’t remember also.
Although Alaskan law was changed to prevent governors from appointing themselves to open Senate seats (in case the Senate kicked the felon out once in session) Palin (oh yeah, that’s it you betcha) could step down and her successor could appoint her to the seat, or she could appoint a placeholder who promised not to run for reelection and then take a shot at the open seat when available.
From the link:
The Alaska Board of Elections has finally updated (pdf).With 17,728 votes counted since the previous update, Democrat Mark Begich has the lead over Republican Ted Stevens, 132,196 to 131,382.
More votes to be counted tomorrow and possibly Friday.
Update 11/18 — The Associated Press called the race for Begich today.
From the Daily Kos link:
Looks like Mark Begich will be setting up a new office in DC after all…..MSNBC is reporting the race in Alaska has been called for Mark Begich.
WASHINGTON – Convicted Sen. Ted Stevens lost his re-election bid to Democrat Mark Begich after the last large batch of votes was counted Tuesday.
The longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate trailed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 3,724 votes after Tuesday’s count.
That’s an insurmountable lead with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted.
Per Lawrence O’Donnell and Dan Abrams on MSNBC, the vote difference is great enough Stevens would have to pay for a recount if he wanted one. And with a 3,724 vote lead, a recount is unlikely.
September 24, 2008
From the link:
After nearly a year of squabbling, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to extend solar tax credits for the next eight years and also remove the $2,000 cap on residential projects.
What with all the political bickering, I was betting this wouldn’t ever get done before the November elections. But the hired help in Washington provided a pleasant surprise for a change. The bill, which includes an allowance for utilities to make use of the commercial credit, now goes to the House of Representatives for approval before everyone clears out of town next week. The current tax credit was set to expire at year’s end.
Doubtless there will be some ready to dun the agreement as yet another handout to an interest group. On the surface, that’s true. But after the government’s recent series of bailouts including–drum roll, please–Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, and the $700 billion or so the Treasury Department wants to buy illiquid mortgage-linked securities–this one should mollify the critics, according to Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Akeena Solar.
I would love in install solar on my home. I have a large expanse that gets a ton of sun year round. Decisions like this make the concept that much more feasible for me to consider.