Today in Washington - May 7, 2010

Elena Kagan — get to know the name. 

The Senate and House have a no votes scheduled for today.  Yesterday the Senate completed work on another day of amending S.3217 the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010” (also known as the ObamaBailout bill).  The buzz in Washington today is about Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, being President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court to replace Justice John Paul Stevens.  Also, the heavy turbulence in the stock market, and the potential Greek financial tragedy crisis as a cause, is occupying naval gazers throughout the Capitol.

  • Kagan is the Nominee – According to Mike Allen at Politico, “look for President Obama to name his Supreme Court pick Monday, and look for it to be Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a former Harvard Law dean. The pick isn’t official, but top White House aides will be shocked if it’s otherwise. Kagan’s relative youth (50) is a huge asset for the lifetime post. And President Obama considers her to be a persuasive, fearless advocate who would serve as an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia, and could lure swing Justice Kennedy into some coalitions The West Wing may leak the pick to AP’s Ben Feller on the later side Sunday, then confirm it for others for morning editions. For now, aides say POTUS hasn’t decided, to their knowledge. Kagan pic and bio.”  Conservatives need to be prepared for the old bait and switch.  Presidents in the past have floated the wrong name on purpose, so they can have a big press splash when the real nominee is unveiled.  Looks like Kagan is the leading candidate to be rolled out on Monday as the nominee, but stay tuned. 
  • Controversial – At first glance, Kagan has the potential to be a very controversial nominee.  Kagan was confirmed as Solicitor General on March 19, 2009 on a 61-31 vote with 7 Senators missing the vote.  That is a close vote for a Solicitor General and clearly Republicans were sending a message that Kagan might not be a good ideological fit for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.  Liberals should take no solace in the fact that they start this process with between 60-70 votes for confirmation.  Add to the Politico piece a New York Times discussion of Kagan’s role in kicking the military off the Campus of the Harvard Law School and you have further evidence that Kagan is being vetted or is the nominee.  A New York Times story today pre-emptively defends her from the charge that she is radical.  The Obama Administration will go to great lengths to paint Kagan as a moderate middle of the road nominee, when she has already proven to be a controversial nominee to be Solicitor General as recently as March of 2009.
  • ObamaBailout – Voted continued yesterday on the financial services reform bill and there are about 140 amendments filed for consideration.  The Senate took 5 recorded votes yesterday and the first was a 98-0 vote on  Senator Jon Tester’s (D-MT) Amendment to amended the term “assessment base” in the bill.  Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) offered an amendment that failed to establish a Division of Consumer Financial Protection within the FDIC on a 38-61 vote.  According to Congressional Quarterly (CQ subscription required), the Shelby Amendment “would have drastically altered the scope and powers of a new regulatory agency aimed at protecting consumers from shoddy or fraudulent financial products.”  Amendments by Senator John Ensign (R-NV) to amend the definition of “financial company” and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to impose leverage and liability limits on bank holding companies and financial companies were both defeated on recorded votes. 

Next week, expect the Sander’s Fed Transparency Amendment and a potential roll out of Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee.


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