Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supremes, TARP, Jr., Financial Services Reform and the passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W.VA) are all big issues this week in Washington. The Senate will vote on a motion to proceed to the TARP, Jr. bill and may take up Financial Services Deform. The House is expected to vote on a War Supplemental. All eyes will be on the Senate Judiciary Committee to watch Solicitor General Elena Kagan make her case to be on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Issues for Conservatives to watch this week are the following:
- The Senate Agenda – The Senate will vote this week on a motion to proceed to H.R. 5297, a bill to set up a small business lending fund run by the Department of Treasury. This bill sets up a TARP-like program for banks to lend your tax dollars to small businesses in trouble. Also, The Senate will vote this week on the nomination Gary Scott Feinerman to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. The Senate may vote on the conference report for Financial Services Reform, but with the passing of Senator Robert Byrd, the Democrats don’t have enough vote to get past a filibuster without picking up a vote for the bill. This week will be filled with speeches on the passing of Senator Byrd and there will be a discussion of who will be appointed by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat, to replace Senator Byrd. As a staffer in the Senate, I can testify that staff would stop working when Senator Byrd spoke on the Senate floor, because of his flamboyant means of speaking. Byrd was a member with some infamous baggage, yet I will always remember Senator Byrd reciting poetry from memory, his citing of the Bible on the Senate floor, his speeches about his family and his love of the institution of the United States Senate. Conservatives should watch the progress of Financial Services Reform to see if 60 votes are ready to send this bill to the President’s desk. Many worry that this bill sets up permanent bailout authority for Wall Street.
- The House Agenda – The House is expected to vote on a War Supplemental this week and the conference report on Financial Services Reform. The Senate had passed a $59 billion War Supplemental and the House is expected to pass a different version to sent back to the Senate. The New York Times blog reported last week “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday stressed the importance of passing a war spending bill by the time lawmakers leave for an Independence Day recess, but questions remain about what exactly will be included in the legislation.” Conservatives in the House are concerned that matters not relating to the war effort have been included in this appropriations bill. “Representative John A. Boehner, the minority leader, called for what he termed ‘clean’ legislation to fund military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and suggested his conference could support a measure similar to what the Senate has passed, which included some nonmilitary spending.” Conservatives are worried that a $10 billion provision to stop the layoffs of teachers. and other provisions not relating to the war, will be given a ride on this measure to fund the military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Elena Kagan– The Senate Judiciary Committee will start hearings on the nomination of President Obama’s Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be justice on the U.S. Supreme Court today. Conn Carroll of The Foundry notes that “at a time when this White House has shown an utter contempt for the rule of law in favor of their own political allies (e.g. Chrysler bailout, oil drilling moratorium, BP shakedown, etc.) it is now more important than ever that senators ensure Kagan is capable of putting aside her personal preferences, applying the law as it is written, and dispensing justice without regard to the parties before her.” Kagan has shown strong hostility to the Second Amendment as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, as a counsel in the Clinton Administration and as President Obama’s Solicitor General. Conservatives should watch this hearing closely to see if Elena Kagan evidences the judicial temperament and philosophy appropriate for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. This hearing will commence as rumors are spreading in Washington that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may announce her retirement soon. Another vacancy would give President Obama an opportunity to pack the court with a third liberal justice to the Supreme Court in his first two years in office.
A more detailed agenda for the Senate and House can be found below: