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« Vogel Named DCCC Executive Director | Blog Home Page | Obama Defends Education Push, Links Plan To Economy »

Strategy Memo: Omnibus Vote Today

It's a busy day for President Obama, starting with an education policy speech this morning to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. After some private meetings, Obama will then meet with members of the New Democrat Coalition at the White House, and then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The Senate will continue consideration of the omnibus appropriations bill, with a final vote likely today. Republican amendments to the bill will also be considered, including one that would require lawmakers to vote publicly on their pay raises.

The House will vote today on the naming of some federal buildings around the country. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee will look at the future of coal under climate legislation.

**President Obama
*Chicago Tribune: Obama's education plan calls for expanding teacher pay incentives and offering grants to schools that raise their standards. "The president's proposals describe voluntary, not mandatory, programs, officials said, and he will not discuss possible changes in President Bush's 'No Child Left Behind' program."

*A memo from Obama was sent to executive departments yesterday on signing statements, saying that he would return "signing statements" to their original purpose, suggesting constitutional issue with legislation. These statements "should not be used to suggest that the president will disregard statutory requirements on the basis of policy disagreements," the memo said. Unmentioned was President Bush, but it was a clear reversal.

*Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged the House Democrats to be patient during a two-hour meeting last night. AP: "He sought to reassure them that President Barack Obama's administration has acted quickly to respond to the recession and the financial crisis. House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said lawmakers voiced concerns about the amount of money the government has spent and the effectiveness of the money in freeing up loans and saving jobs."

*New York Times reports on how Democratic committee chairs are tinkering with Obama's budget plan. "The apparent first casualty is a big one: a proposal to limit tax deductions for the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers." Obama proposed it to finance health care changes. Chairmen are also objecting to cutting farm subsidies and cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending. But "the White House ... is making clear that it is ready to push back, judging by its reaction to the strong resistance to its proposal to limit wealthy taxpayers' deductions."

*ABC reports that Gen. Ray Odierno says the fight against insurgents in Mosul "might lead to U.S. troops remaining in the city past a June 30, 2009 deadline for all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraqi cities, but only if the Iraqi government made such a request."

**Congress
*Omnibus: In the Senate, today is "the day to watch, as the leadership has to maneuver to get the omnibus bill that pays for running the government and its agencies passed in the Senate, given that previous resolutions financing the government expire at midnight," reports the NYT. "A pay raise amendment proposed by Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, will add a bit of drama [today] because it would require lawmakers to publicly approve their own pay raises each and every time."

*"Senate Democratic leaders are confident they have enough votes to move a $410 billion omnibus spending bill through the Senate Tuesday after picking up a handful of key votes," The Hill reports.

*Dem Unity: "The Menendez rebellion was a jolt of political reality for Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Obama, signaling that the solidarity of the stimulus debate is fading as Democratic lawmakers are starting to read the fine print of the bills they will wrestle with in the coming weeks and months, and not always liking what they see," reports the Washington Post.

*Cantor Is 'Mr. No': "For all the focus on the king of conservative talk, Democrats may have found a more important villain in House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a telegenic young Republican trying to bring life to his party on Capitol Hill," Politico reports.

*John McCain sits down for an interview with Politico.

**Campaign Stuff
*"The Supreme Court narrowed the reach of the Voting Rights Act, ruling that a measure aimed at helping minorities elect their preferred candidates only applies in electoral districts where minorities number more than 50% of the voting-age population," reports the WSJ.

*Via Politico, Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Heath Shuler will not run for Senate in North Carolina.

*MO Sen: The Republican primary is well under way, even though Sarah Steelman has yet to officially enter the race. She and Rep. Roy Blunt had a back-and-forth yesterday on earmarks.

**Sports Alert: Congrats to Eric Maynor and VCU for destroying George Mason in the CAA Tournament Championship last night and earning its second NCAA tourney berth in three years.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli