22 March 2010

Updates to Last Night's House Vote

The threat of having passed Deem and Pass through committee, combined with the Stupak deal, was enough to push the final vote on the initial Senate bill (HR 3590). The vote tally was 219:212, a three vote margin over what Pelosi needed for passage. The passage of the reconciliation measure quickly followed, and will be rapidly sent to the Senate. Sen. Reid states that he has the 51 votes necessary for passage of the reconciliation, but as mentioned here last night, Republicans are gearing up for a procedural fight. Republicans are allowed to offer unlimited amendments, each of which must be debated for instance. Additionally, the earlier ruling by the Senate Parliamentarian requires President Obama to sign in to law HR 3590, before signing the reconciliation bill, should it pass the Senate. That means that if the reconciliation bill is stalled, HR 3590 goes forward unimpeded, which is likely to anger members on both the left and right, not least because of the Stupak deal.

Whether or not the threats of appeal are grounded in reality (the president has another two years to work on his sales pitch), one thing seems increasingly likely - the Democrats have ensured a bloodbath come November.

21 March 2010

Non-Vote Vote Rule Passed - House Voting on Senate Bill

The House has passed the rule allowing the 'deem and pass' measure to provide Democratic House members with cover from a recorded vote on the Senate HC bill, allowing it to move directly to a vote on a reconciliation package of 'fixes' to the Senate bill. These are required to deal strictly with budgetary matters, but of course one can word just about any measure in such a way as to make it about the budget. In the meanwhile, the president is expected to rapidly sign into law the Senate bill, and then to accept the reconciliation package later. Final votes were obtained after the president assured Rep. Stupak that he would issue a Presidential Executive order barring all federal funds from being used to obtain abortion.
'Just before taking the podium at a 4 p.m. news conference, the White House released the text of an executive order to be signed after the health care reform legislation is passed. It makes clear the president’s intention “to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion services” and continues the current prohibition on taxpayer money being used for abortions known as the Hyde amendment.'
The Republicans believe that there are several rules violations in the reconciliation package that would violate House rules, including an appropriation to fund a new agency to implement the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," that does not fall under the auspices of the committees that wrote the Senate bill. It remains to be seen if these rules violations would amount to a negative ruling by the Senate Parlimentarian.

19 March 2010

The Lines Have Crossed

For the first time in his presidency, and even more precipitously than Bill Clinton, President Obama's RCP average (a running average of major polls) has dropped into negative territory. The approve vs. disapprove lines have crossed, and he is down to -0.2.

President Obama Job Approval

Polling Data

PollDateSampleApprove Disapprove Spread
RCP Average3/3 - 3/18--47.547.7 -0.2
Gallup3/16 - 3/181547 A4747Tie
Rasmussen Reports3/16 - 3/181500 LV4555 -10
FOX News3/16 - 3/17900 RV4648 -2
NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl3/11 - 3/141000 A4847 +1
Pew Research3/10 - 3/141500 A4643 +3
Associated Press/GfK3/3 - 3/81002 A5346 +7

See All President Obama Job Approval Polling Data

As the Los Angeles Times sarcastically noted, this dip could be due to many things, but is most likely connected to the president's obsession with passing a HC bill, any bill, by any means. Interestingly, the RCP Average will probably drop further tomorrow, after today's Gallup Poll results are included. The Gallup Poll reflected in today's RCP Average has an approval tie, but today's Gallup has the president down by -2.

Today's RCP Average also has the general Republican brand up to +1.6 over the Democrats. It looks more and more likely that November will bring a bloodbath.

Tomorrow: a closer look at the recent CBO scoring.

12 March 2010

Seventy Years Later - Honoring the WASPs

They paid for their own pilot licenses, and when they died in the line of duty, for the transport of each other's bodies for burial. The Air Force refused to acknowledge or honor them properly, and forced them from their training positions, rather than let men with junior positions and fewer in-flight hours lose a position. They flew cargo, fighter planes, test planes, and moving gunnery targets. These women were the Women Airforce Service Pilots, and they were finally honored for their service today. Last year, the president signed into law a bill allowing the Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded to the surviving WASPs and the families of those who have died. Today, the women were on Capitol Hill to receive the awards. The WASPs were among the women who paved the way for all other women who have served in the military.

Thank you ladies - for courage, service and patience.

08 March 2010

North Korea Thumps Its Chest

The little man in high heels, Kim Jong-Il, and the North Korean People's Army, have declared themselves ready to 'blow up' the United States and South Korea, after the opening of the annual joint defensive drills. This year's operational name is Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, and is somewhat scaled down from previous years, with only 18,000 US troops participating.
'The U.S. and South Korea argue the drills -- which include live firing by U.S. Marines, aerial attack drills and urban warfare training -- are purely defensive. North Korea claims they amount to attack preparations and has demanded they be canceled.

The North's People's Army issued a statement Monday, warning the drills created a tense situation and that its troops are "fully ready" to "blow up" the allies once the order is issued.

The North also put all its soldiers and reservists on high alert to "mercilessly crush the aggressors" should they encroach upon the North's territory even slightly, said the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.'

Pyongyang typically increases its defensive posture and ups its rhetoric in response to these drills. Although the spate of missile and nuclear testing over the past year make the threat somewhat more serious, North Korea has little ability to follow through on anything. It's soldiers may very well be more likely to ask for a good, hot meal at this point. While they are typically better fed than the average 'citizen,' the repeated halts to food aid this last year have left the entire country on the brink .

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