Chuck Hagel was confirmed as Defense Secretary on Tuesday after a strong opposition from Senate Republicans. Despite being a Republican himself, Hagel had to face a possible filibuster in the process of his confirmation, which came with a 58-41 vote, the smallest margin for a defense secretary since 1947.
52 Democrats, two independents and just four Republicans voted to confirm Hagel, with 41 Republicans opposing him. The Senate had voted earlier in the afternoon 71-27 to end the debate of the nomination. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska was nominated by President Obama to the post. Obama released the following statement:
“I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world.”
Hagel will be sworn in tomorrow morning and face spending cuts as they are set to automatically kick in on March 1. In a statement, Hagel said, “I will work closely with Congress to ensure that we maintain the strongest military in the world and continue to protect this great nation.”
Republicans opposed the nomination in part because of Hagel’s opposition to the troop surge in Iraq. There were also concerns about comments Hagel had made that put into question is commitment to Israel and suggestions were made that he received money from North Korea.
While early predictions either favored Brown or put Brown and Warren neck and neck, a few missteps by Brown and the rising tide of anti-financial sector sentiments have begun to swing the tide slightly in Warren’s favor. Recently, Brown invoked angry sentiments when he made unflattering quips about Warren’s physical appearance when questioned about his nude photo spread in Playgirl. If Brown continues such missteps, and if public opinion against big moneyed interests continue to rise, then Warren, who is seen among many as a stalwart defender of the middle-class consumer against big money, could easily ride that wave to a Democratic victory in 2012.
In fact, it appears that public opinion is beginning so slowly turn. The New York Times reported on October 10, 2011 that Warren is out fundraising Brown and far out fundraising her democratic primary candidates, two of who have withdrawn from the race, and that favorable opinions of her amongst likely voters are growing. Current polls have Warren and Brown tied in the Massachusetts senate race. Not a bad performance for someone who just entered the race a month ago.
Democrats sitting on the U.S. Senate have introduced a trillion dollar spending bill aimed to take the federal government through the next fiscal year. Republicans have voiced their opposition to the bill and are gearing up to defeat it. Some Senate republicans, like Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), are already working to defeat it. With the political affiliation changes in the house and senate, it appears that no matter what bill is introduced by either party, strong opposition will be met.
The Democrats believe that the spending bill is a better option than any improvised spending that is approved as necessary throughout the year. Having a planned budget will allow government officials to spend more efficiently while still having a supply of funds readily available should an unexpected situation arise. Although, many of the funds proposed in the bill would be earmarked for specific projects.
Republicans will likely scuttle progress on this bill as long as possible with intentions of pushing temporary spending budgets until they hold the majority of seats in the House and several additional seats in the Senate at the early part of next year. That way they will have more power to turn down the bill and deter any earmarked spending that they oppose and intend to ban for the next 2 years.
Last week a very important Senate election was held in which Democratic candidate (Coakley) was upset by Republican candidate (Brown). The vote was particularly important because it sent a message that the majority of the population, most commonly associated with the Democratic party, favored Brown who is against health care reform and believes economic stimulus should be the priority. This tells President Obama that his own party members are not all backing his Health Care reform plan since Brown’s election to the Senate will definitely result in one more vote against it. One such voter, Victoria Vigna, is a prime example of a Democrat who voted in favor of Brown in last week’s election. While she supports President Obama and believes in him, she simply decided that Brown was the better candidate for the job. Unfortunately for the Obama health care reform plan, Vigna was not the only Democrat who thought Brown was the best candidate for the job. In turn, members of both parties agree that the party lines are kind of a mess right now and there seems to be a lot of arguing that needs to subside if anything is going to get done. Ultimately, the popular consensus was a vote that shocked the political lines, a vote that will no doubt cause Obama to second guess the direction he takes the country in. The good news is that Obama supporters still show a strong level of support for him and believe in his ability to make the right decision that is best for American citizens. As thorough and as careful as Obama is, he is unlikely to make a decision that is not backed with strong support from expert advisers and a vast majority of the U.S. population. His next couple of moves will show the type of character he possesses and his ability to handle obstacles that lie in his course of action. The expectation is that he’ll be just fine. We have to keep in mind that there is always going to be strong voices of support and opposition when it comes to decisions that involve policies as large as the health care reform plan.
Clinton Urges Passage of Senate Health Care Bill
Author: Associated Press – WASHINGTON
Source: Tricityherald.com, Thursday, December 17th, 2009, Clinton Urges Passage of Senate Health Care Bill, Retrieved on December 17th, 2009 from http://www.tri-cityherald.com/918/story/833968.html
Former President Bill Clinton says failure to pass a health care bill now would be a “colossal blunder” for the Democratic Party and the nation’s economy.
In a statement, Clinton rebuffed calls from Howard Dean and other liberals to kill the Senate bill. He said that while the legislation doesn’t contain everything everyone wants, “America can’t afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Take it from someone who knows, these chances don’t come around every day. ”
He alluded to his own failed effort to overhaul health care in the early 1990s. He said the country is at a crossroads and inaction would lead to more uninsured Americans, higher premiums, bigger federal deficits and crippling health costs.