May 11th, 2010, Washington, DC–From ALG News’ Capitol Hill Correspondent Derek Baker:
In the Senate, as the Democrat’s Wall Street Takeover bill enters its final week of debate, conservatives fear passage is inevitable without substantial reform or removal of the permanent bailout provisions contained in the bill. Since the Dodd bill reached the floor, 177 amendments have been filed, but only six have been voted on (and a few went by unanimous consent). A handful of amendments are still in the queue, including the revised Sanders “disclosure” amendment (formerly the Fed audit amendment before it was gutted last week) and the McCain GSE amendment aimed at reigning in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso told Fox News he would question SCOTUS nominee Kagan on the constitutionality of ObamaCare and its individual mandate provision. Kagan has been highly critical of the judicial nomination process – and lack of clear answers by judicial nominees – in the past, so it will be more difficult for her to avoid relevant questions such as this about her philosophy.
Bottom Line: The question is whether or not Reid will allow a vote on the real Fed Audit amendment now offered by Vitter. Also, watch the Democrats squirm as they try to avoid a vote on McCain’s amendment to eviscerate Fannie and Freddie. These two amendments are central to the effort of real financial reform, and Republicans should be relentless in exposing any Democrat that blocks or opposes either one.
In the House, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pulled out of the Hawaii special election for former Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s seat. The race has two Democrats (state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa and Rep. Ed Case) and one Republican (Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou) running against each other in a winner-take-all format. Djou is leading both Democrats in the polls, and both Democrats refuse to drop out of the race. Statements from Hanabusa’s campaign suggest that though she expects to lose the special election they believe she will eventually win the regular election in November.
The Hill is reporting that Rep. Joe Sestak may have received the “issue he needs to win” against Sen. Arlen Specter with the nomination of Elena Kagan for Supreme Court. Then Republican Specter voted against Kagan’s nomination for Solicitor General in the Judiciary Committee last March. Specter has already started a rapid retreat from his previous position, issuing a statement that he has “an open mind about her nomination” and stating her nomination to the Supreme Court is a “distinctly different position.” Sestak is now tied in the latest polls with Specter, where the winner will take on former Rep. (and conservative favorite) Pat Toomey in the general election.
Bottom Line: DCCC says it will save its resources for November, but a win for Djou represents a severe blow and an embarrassment for the Democrats. It also gives Djou a leg up to run as the incumbent come November. All eyes are now on PA12, watching to see if Republican businessman Tim Burns is able to fire the first deadly shot across the bow of the Democrats this election season.
At the other end of the Avenue, Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court as expected yesterday, and his pick was promptly and roundly criticized by many conservative scholars. Notably, Kagan has no experience as a judge and very limited court experience, but liberals have been quick to point out that former Chief Justice Rehnquist also had not served as a judge prior to being nominated by President Reagan. Former Attorney General Ed Meese, published yesterday on the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog, suggested that the similarities abruptly end there. Mr. Meese stated Kagan’s belief that the Supreme Court primarily exists to look out for the “despised and disadvantaged” – rather than uphold the law as written – was troubling.
In 1995, Kagan wrote that confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice nominees had become a “vapid and hollow charade” because senators allowed the nominees to “stonewall” on questions regarding their judicial philosophies. When Sen. Hatch asked her about the statement in her Solicitor General hearing last year, she vaguely commented that “I’m not sure sitting here today I would agree” with her own previous statements.
Bottom Line: Alex Bolton suggested in The Hill yesterday that the “GOP faces Kagan conundrum” because Kagan “gives Republicans little ammunition in an election year.” Bolton is usually more astute than this, because it’s simply not true. Though Kagan’s writings are scant, there’s more than enough for Republicans to seize on. Her nonexistent record as a judge and accomplished litigator is also a significant issue certain to be examined. Simply put, if Republicans have the will – and the brains – they have more than enough ammunition to oppose Kagan and make this a painful, time-consuming process.