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White House

 

« Obama Meets the Press | Blog Home Page | Stimulus Bill Heads To Conference »

Strategy Memo: Stimulus Vote, Take 2

Good Tuesday morning, Washington and beyond.

The Senate is expected to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 today, with three Republicans likely to cross over and support the economic stimulus bill. On a 61-36 roll call vote late yesterday afternoon, the chamber voted to end debate and bring the $838 billion bill up for a final vote, which is expected at noon.

The final tally today will likely be close to yesterday's vote, which was just enough to avoid a potential legislative maneuver by Republicans to block the bill's progression. Following the vote, the Senate and House, which passed its bill two weeks ago with no Republican support, will then send their separate versions of the bill to a conference, where one package will eventually emerge for President Obama to sign.

For leverage, both parties have been angling their positions -- for or against the bill -- as the will of the people, and Obama's news conference on primetime national television was his biggest stage yet in selling it. And really, he's only just started to make the case to the American people, after working earlier to sell it just to lawmakers in Washington.

"He's by far and away our best weapon explaining directly to the American people the Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that he wants to see get through Congress," press secretary Robert Gibbs said this morning.

Monday's town hall in Indiana and East Room press conference appeared to go well, and today Obama gets to further burnish his case in Florida with another public event that will also feature Gov. Charlie Crist, one of the most popular Republicans in the country. With new polling that shows Obama remains popular despite early hiccups, the administration is more confident that Republicans will feel pressure to provide more votes for final passage than their initial public display.

Click through to check out what news articles are driving the day...

**Economic Stimulus
*With 58 Democrat or Independent members, Democrats needed needed its entire caucus to vote yesterday and today. "The bill cleared the 60-vote requirement to proceed with one to spare, and one of those "aye" votes came from ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Kennedy, who has been undergoing treatment for brain cancer since being diagnosed with the disease nine months ago, was last seen in the Capitol on Inauguration Day," per the Washington Post.

*WaPo's Kurtz looks at Obama's first press conference and notes that he "made a bit of history by calling on the first blogger at such a session, Sam Stein of the liberal Huffington Post."

**Financial Bailout
*Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "is expected at 11 a.m. to announce sweeping changes to the government's much-criticized $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP. The government has already given out $387.4 billion of those funds, largely under the direction of Geithner's predecessor, Henry Paulson," ABC News reports.

*The plan was hashed out in the White House following "spirited internal debate," the New York Times reports. "In the end, Mr. Geithner largely prevailed in opposing tougher conditions on financial institutions that were sought by presidential aides, including David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, according to administration and Congressional officials."

**Obama Press Conference
*According to Towson University presidential historian Martha Kumar, Obama held a prime time press conference arlier than any president in history, beating Richard Nixon by almost a month. Now, he needs to hold 31 more to
pass Ronald Reagan for total number of East Room get togethers with the White House press corps.

*NBC's Brokaw: "Barack Obama still knows how to campaign."

*New York Times' Herbert says Obama is "like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike." More: "There is always a tendency to underestimate Barack Obama. We are inclined in the news media to hyperventilate over every political or policy setback, no matter how silly or insignificant, while Mr. Obama has shown again and again that he takes a longer view."

*Politico: Obama painted "an extraordinarily bleak picture of America's future if Congress fails to move quickly to pass stimulus legislation."

**Campaign Alerts
*PA Senate: Joseph Torsella, "the politically wired founding chief executive of the National Constitution Center," became the first candidate to announce his candidacy in the Pennsylvania Senate race yesterday. In 2004, he lost a primary to now-Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who also is considering a Senate bid in 2010.

*Ohio Senate: Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher formed an exploratory committee to run for U.S. Senate in 2010. He may face a primary for the Democratic nomination; Republican Rob Portman is already running.

*CA Gov: And in what will be a high-profile race to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger, ex-Ebay CEO Meg Whitman made it official. She'll face Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the GOP primary; both have "vast personal wealth" and can spend "tens of millions apiece on the race." A long list of Democrats are also interested in the race, including, perhaps, Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

*NY-20: NPR's Ken Rudin looks at the special election for the vacant seat, the date of which has not yet been announced. The Republican district was represented by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand from her election in 2006 until last month, when she was appointed to the Senate.

*Interesting dynamic in the Tennessee Legislature, where Republicans won the majority (50-49) in the House for the first time in 140 years. However, GOP Speaker Kent Williams was thrown out of the Republican Party yesterday after teaming up with Democrats to vote against the GOP's nominee for speaker and electing himself speaker instead. Williams also voted for the Democrats' speaker pro tem nominee.

Williams said that state GOP Chairman Robin Smith told him this shortly after his vote: "Congratulations, Speaker; it's hard to kill the devil, but in two years you're a dead man."

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli