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Strategy Memo: Late Night in the House

Today, President Obama "will lay out a comprehensive regulatory reform plan to modernize and protect the integrity of our financial system," the White House says. He meets with regulators in the Roosevelt Room, before making a public announcement in the East Room. Later, he meets with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. And he'll later sign a Presidential Memorandum extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

After begin called back last night for votes, the House will hold a marathon of votes on the 127 amendments added on to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill. Votes are expected as early as 10 a.m. The Senate will resume consideration of the Travel Promotion bill, and at some point will take up the war supplemental appropriations conference report that the House passed yesterday.

The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is hosting a Green Jobs Summit on the Hill. Vice President Joe Biden will deliver the keynote address. House Republicans will introduce an alternative health care plan at a morning press conference.

Tonight lawmakers will have a chance to blow off some steam in the annual Democrats vs. Republicans Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park.

**President Obama
*AP on today's regulation announcement: Obama proposes new powers for the Federal Reserve; a new consumer protection agency to govern lending and credit; and new rules that would reach into currently unregulated regions of the financial markets. "Under Obama's plan, the Fed would gain power to supervise holding companies and large financial institutions considered so big that their failure could undermine the nation's financial system. But even as it gains new powers, the Fed also would lose some banking authority to a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency."

*Obama talked about the new plan in interviews with Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. With Bloomberg, he predicted unemployment would top 10 percent, and offered a warning to Wall Street executives. "Wall Street seems to maybe have a shorter memory about how close we were to the abyss than I would have expected," Obama said.

WSJWSJ says Obama is anxious for his conservative critics "to know he isn't the heavy-handed meddler some suspect." Obama: "I think the irony ... is that I actually would like to see a relatively light touch when it comes to the government."

A main takeaway from CNBC has been his criticism of Fox News. "You'd be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front," he said.

* "Faced with growing anger among gay and lesbian supporters, President Obama is expected tonight to extend healthcare and other benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Since taking office, however, Obama has disappointed many gay activists by not just keeping silent but, lately, by defending some of the policies he criticized."

*ABC: The White House "outlined a number of reasons" why President Obama fired Gerald Walpin, Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service, after Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) expressed concern that President Obama "did not abide by a law she wrote -- and he supported as a senator -- requiring 30 day notice to Congress before an Inspector General could be terminated." A White House counsel "paints a less-than-flattering picture of Walpin," saying he "was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve."

*Remember the Sotomayor nomination? Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) tells USA Today that he doesn't expect Republicans to filibuster. "But he said she is the latest in a pattern of Obama nominees he has found troublesome." Sessions: "She seems to be willing to accept that a judge's rulings may be influenced by the judge's personal backgrounds or feelings, which is sort of what President Obama has said."

*The Washington Times gets into the controversy over ABC's planned day at the White House.

*"The House narrowly approved a $105.9 billion wartime spending bill Tuesday evening, capping a two-month march that has sorely tested President Barack Obama's ability to navigate between warring forces on the political left and right. Overshadowed by the health care and climate change debates -- and often overlooked by the national press -- the measure has nonetheless provoked the grittiest legislative battle yet seen in this Congress," Politico reports.

NYT: "The measure passed 226-202, with only five Republicans voting for it. (One of those five was Representative John McHugh, President Obama's choice to be Secretary of the Army.) House Republicans had been very supportive of the spending bill, but balked at a provision in the latest version that would give billions to the International Monetary Fund. The version passed by the House today also shelved a ban on releasing photos documenting abuse of foreign prisoners by American soldiers, a move also decried by Republicans."

*"Members of Congress are rarely on call. But that wasn't the case Tuesday night in the House of Representatives. Most representatives made a beeline out of the Capitol around 6:30 pm Tuesday. Lawmakers had just approved an emergency war funding bill. And the leadership brass advertised that vote as the last one of the evening. But the House wasn't done with it's work. The plan was for members to start plowing through a slate of 127 amendments to the annual Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill. Some lawmakers would stick around to debate. But there would be no votes until Wednesday. That all changed at 8:21 pm," Fox News's Pergram writes.

*Sen. Orrin Hatch talked to RealClearSports about reforming the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and gave his darkhorse candidate for the 2009 Heisman Trophy.

*Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and the White House sparred yesterday over the effectiveness of the stimulus, Kyle reported.

**Health Care
*Gallup: "Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they are confident in doctors to recommend the right thing for reforming the U.S. healthcare system. That is significantly higher than the public confidence extended to President Barack Obama, as well as to six other entities that will be weighing in during the emerging healthcare reform debate."

* "Stung" by CBO estimates of the cost of health care plans, Politico reports that Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee "pledged Tuesday night to release a plan that keeps costs lower - but still about $1 trillion over 10 years."

*"Congressional Democrats and the White House are scrambling to regain their footing after a series of setbacks has stalled political momentum to reform the nation's healthcare system," The Hill reports. "A cost estimate hanging a $1 trillion price tag on an incomplete bill, salvos from powerful interest groups and great uncertainty among key Democrats on what will actually be in the legislation that moves through Congress have emboldened Republican critics."

*AP reports, Former Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and George Mitchell (Dems) and Bob Dole and Howard Baker (Republicans) will release a $1.2 trillion health care proposal today. "A summary of the plan calls for an individual requirement to carry health insurance, an idea that many Republicans support. But it would also impose new levies on large companies that don't provide coverage to their workers, an approach preferred by Democrats. Perhaps the most controversial part calls for taxing health insurance benefits worth more than the value of the coverage that members of Congress get."

**Ensign Affair
*The Las Vegas Review Journal's lead: "Calling it 'absolutely the worst thing that I've ever done in my life,' U.S. Sen. John Ensign admitted Tuesday that he had an affair with a campaign staffer last year." The paper reports that "Ensign decided to announce the affair after he was approached by the husband of the woman involved. The man asked Ensign for a 'substantial' amount of money with the implication it would buy the couple's continued silence."

*" His announcement drew no public reaction from Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the party's leader in the Senate, or other members of the leadership," AP notes.

*Washington Post: "GOP strategists were divided yesterday about the impact of this latest revelation on the party's image. Some argued that it would reinforce voter impressions of a Republican brand that has been dogged by controversies over the past several years, from Craig's sex scandal to the investigations of imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with congressional Republicans."

**Campaign Stuff
*Dem fundraising: "President Obama is expected to raise $3 million for the two Democratic campaign committees at a Thursday fundraiser, sources tell The Hill. The event, to be held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, will benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee."

*An answer for the GOP in the New Hampshire Senate race? Chuck Todd reports that state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte may be a candidate. "Short of Gregg, Ayotte might be the best candidate the GOP can find as she doesn't come from the current elective wing of the GOP who all seem to have the smell of defeat on them. Ayotte would give the GOP a fresh face to rally around in 2010 and put the very popular Dem Gov. Lynch in somewhat of a tough spot as he'll have to likely campaign against the woman he appointed."

*Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) is not surprised that State Sen. David Williams dropped a bid to challenge him Monday. "I think I fairly well said that when he was used as a ploy to dry up my dollars the first time when he was invited in by Sen. McConnell's chief of staff and Sen. Cornyn met with him ... You're going to have to wait until the 15th of July, until all the bets are in, just like me ... But I feel like we're going to do better than in the first quarter and we'll see how much better."

*NJ Gov: "In their first encounter as gubernatorial contenders, Democratic Gov. Corzine told Republican nominee Christopher J. Christie "I'm not afraid of you" as the two politely shook hands last night. ... The encounter, just another moment in what is shaping up to be a bitter fight, took place as Corzine was preparing to speak. He left the head table and walked over to Christie, who was nearby shaking hands with attendees. The governor told his opponent that some had said he was afraid to walk into the room with Christie," Philly Inquirer reports.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli