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« Senate Dems Request Show Of Good Faith | Blog Home Page | On The Air In NY-20 »

Strategy Memo: Cabinet Complete

Good snowy Monday morning, Washington. The House and Senate return today amidst possibly the largest snow storm to hit the capital area in three years. The Senate will begin considering the $410 billion appropriations omnibus package that the House passed last week. The House will vote tonight on a few minor bills, including the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act and Shark Conservation Act.

Congress will begin holding hearings this week on the president's newly-offered budget. OMB Director Peter Orszag and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are both expected to testify on the Hill.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is set to be announced today as President Obama's pick for HHS Secretary, barring a last minute weather delay. If all goes according to plan, it will be the final Cabinet appointment by the administration, nearly four months after Election Day and almost four weeks after former nominee Tom Daschle dropped out due to an issue with unpaid taxes.

**Sunday Morning Talk Shows: Check out clips from all the major shows at RealClearPolitics Video, including Rahm Emanuel, Secretary Gates, and Eric Cantor.

**Sebelius to HHS
*Kathleen Sebelius will take the HHS job today at the White House, Washington Post reported Saturday. AP: "The announcement of his health and human services secretary nominee comes just days before the president holds a White House summit on health care. Lawmakers from both parties and representatives of major interest groups, from insurers to drug companies to consumers, will attend."

*Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, who moves up when Sebelius is confirmed, has said he won't run for a full term in 2010. AP: The former GOP chairman "senses less-than-enthusiastic support within his adopted party, and some Republicans say hard feelings remain within the GOP."

*The Kansas GOP is happy to see her go, with the executive director saying: "When Sebelius leaves, the Democratic Party ceases to exist."

*The conservative Sam Brownback (who it should be noted is leaving the Senate in hopes of taking Sebelius' old job) had praise for the appointment.

*From the NYT: "Sebelius recently observed that the greatest frustration of her six years in office had been her inability to persuade lawmakers to raise tobacco taxes for a modest expansion of government health coverage."

*Howard Dean hints at some disappointment that he did not get the HHS job. "I was pretty clear that I would have liked to have been Secretary of HHS but it is the president's choice and he decided to go in a different direction," he said. As for the person who got the HHS nod over him - Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas - he said: "I think she will be very good. She is a very nice person and I think she will be fine."

**More Obama
*The NYT reports on former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión Jr., who begins his new job today as director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. "...the results of many of his initiatives and commissions are mixed, with some achieving their goals, some still in the planning stages and others fading away."

*Budget: Politico's Mike Allen reports that "conversations with an array of White House aides, allies and advisers make clear that Obama sees the massive size of his agenda as a political advantage, not a vulnerability. The decision to move big and quickly with a $3.6 trillion budget that tries to tackle not just an ailing economy but energy, education and health care was a deliberate strategy -- one that Obama believes leaves Washington's deck stacked decisively in his favor, no matter the final fate of his proposals."

**Congress
*Budget Hearings on the Hill: "White House budget officials trek to Capitol Hill to explain components of the $3.6 trillion budget that includes billions in new spending on health care, sweeping changes in school loan programs, higher taxes for more affluent Americans and companies, and a cap on carbon dioxide and other gases," The Hill reports.

*Gallup: Both parties have seen a sizeable uptick in their approval ratings since December. Democrats have gone up from 37% to 47%, and Republicans have risen from 25% to 36%. "These increases suggest that both parties have benefited perceptually from the change in government from the Bush administration to the Obama administration."

**Republicans
*At CPAC, Mitt Romney won the 2012 straw poll with 20 percent. Bobby Jindal had 14 percent, followed by Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, with 13 percent.

*But Rush Limbaugh is generating the most buzz for his speech on Saturday night. Fox has a transcript. Rush, on Obama: "He's liberal is what matters to me. And his articulated -- his articulated plans scare me. Now, I understand we can't say we want the President to fail, Mr. Limbaugh. That's like saying -- this is the voice of the New Castrati, by the way, guys who have lost their guts. You can't say Mr. Limbaugh that you want the President to fail because that's like saying you want the country to fail. It's the opposite. I want the country to survive. I want the country to succeed."

**Campaign Stuff
*In the NY-20 special election, Democrat Scott Murphy won the Independence Party line, the first time a Democrat has done so, the Daily News reports. Independence Party Chair Frank MacKay: ""It's certainly not a slight to Jim Tedisco," MacKay said. "We like him. He's a friend. But we're really excited and proud to be supporting Scott Murphy." The election is March 31, four weeks from tomorrow.

*Alexi Giannoulias will open an exploratory committee for Illinois Senate today. Lynn Sweet reports that he's running "no matter the election scenario or the other contenders." Former Commerce Secretary William Daley has floated his name "to head off Giannoulias securing early endorsements." Rep. Jan Schakowsky is also "mulling a run, with her chances of getting in more likely in a special election."

*Gov. Pat Quinn said he hasn't spoken to Sen. Roland Burris about resigning. Quinn, speaking at a Black History Month event, suggested that Burris "find a different way to serve and step aside," the Chicago Trib reports. And Sen. Dick Durbin acknowledges some racial issues surrounding his appointment, but says despite his call for him to resign: "His vote still counts, his signature is still necessary for critical appointments. I will be working with him whenever there's the need for both Illinois senators to be involved in projects. I'm going to try to work with him as well as I can."

**Sports/Obama Alert: Kyle sat four rows behind Obama at the Wizards-Bulls game in D.C. Friday night. He can report that the president did partake in good-natured trash talking with some fans sitting just behind his courtside seat, and he appeared deeply into the game despite his team's dreadful performance.

--Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad