Stimulus Deal Reached

House and Senate negotiators agreed to a $789 billion stimulus package this afternoon. 

Final votes in both chambers could come as soon as Thursday with the bill reaching President Obama’s desk on Friday.

Despite the messiness of the legislative process, it’s a very big victory for Obama.

Jindal Tapped to Give GOP Response

Republican leaders announced that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) will give the Republican response to President Obama’s first address to Congress on February 24, 2009, WAFB-TV reports. 

Jindal will speak to the nation from Baton Rouge.

New York Times: “The Louisiana governor has become one to watch among those in the next generation of leaders.”

Obama is a PC

According to Computer World, President Obama called Intel Corp. CEO Paul Otellini last night to congratulate him on company’s decision to invest in three new factories. During their conversation, Otellini said the president “reminded me that he sees the Intel logo every morning when he opens up his laptop; I was pleased to hear that.”

I’ll bet most people thought Obama used a Mac (which is not required to display the Intel logo, though it now also uses Intel chips.)

Bredesen Thinks He’s Out of Running for HHS

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) told state legislators this morning that he doesn’t think President Obama will nominate him for the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary position, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Specter Vulnerable in Re-election Bid

When Pennsylvania voters were asked in a new Quinnipiac survey if Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) deserves re-election in 2010, 40% said yes while 43% said no.

Quinn Better Positioned Than Burris for 2010

A new Chicago Tribune poll finds that only 37% of Illinois voters want newly-appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) to run for election in 2010 while 33% said he should not. An additional 29% said they didn’t know.

In contrast, 48% of the state’s voters said they would like to see Gov. Pat Quinn (D) on next year’s ballot for governor, compared with 15% who said they would not like to see him run. An additional 37% said they didn’t know.

Neither Burris or Quinn has said if they will seek election to the seats they now occupy.

The Partisan Fight Over Bipartisanship

Despite getting very few Republicans to back his economic stimulus package, Ben Smith sees President Obama with the upper hand on the bipartisanship spin wars.

“While the parliamentary tactic may have failed, however, the political positioning appears to be succeeding The best evidence: Republicans are, belatedly, trying to cast their ‘no’ votes as the truly bipartisan move, a heavy lift made heavier by Obama’s ability to drive and dominate the national conversation, by his popularity and his conciliatory image.”

Solis Vote Coming Thursday

“Organized labor had been told not to expect a vote on the confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis to be Labor Secretary until after a brief Congressional recess,” Marc Ambinder reports. 

“Now, labor’s being told that Solis’s vote will take place tomorrow at 2:00 pm.  One White House official says that scenario ‘looks good’ but wouldn’t confirm it any further; another said that there is a mark-up scheduled but no vote.”

The movement comes after key Republicans said they were not going to block Solis’ nomination over her husband’s tax issues.

McCain Gears Up for Re-election

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “is not only throwing himself back into Senate life after his tough presidential defeat, he’s also started gearing up to defend his Arizona seat next year,” Politico reports.

“The four-term Republican senator on Tuesday night emailed supporters of his presidential campaign asking them to contribute to his Senate reelection committee.”

Can Dodd Survive?

The New York Observer looks at yesterday’s poll numbers from Connecticut and sees big problems ahead for Sen. Christopher Dodd in his 2010 re-election bid, mainly because of the sweetheart mortgages he received from Countrywide Financial.

“The scandal’s durability, especially in light of the housing market collapse that helped plunge the country into a recession, has made Dodd supremely vulnerable to political attacks. By a 54 to 24 percent margin, respondents told Quinnipiac pollsters that they weren’t satisfied with Dodd’s mortgage explanation (the poll was taken before he granted the media access to his records on Monday); 56 percent said they were less likely to vote for him because of it. And most damningly, 51 percent said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ not vote to re-elect Dodd next year.”

Cheney Has a Kindle

“Suddenly a man of leisure,” former Vice President Dick Cheney “has a Kindle, Amazon’s wireless reading device, and said he used it recently to read James M. McPherson’s new Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief,” reportsPolitico.

Stimulus Agreement Coming Soon

First Read: “With House and Senate negotiators working with the White House to reconcile the stimulus legislation — Rahm Emanuel and Peter Orzsag were on the Hill late last night trying to hammer out a conference agreement — the New York Times reminds us that the legislation’s fate is in the hands of three people we thought were extinct: Northeast Republicans… As far as the negotiations go, one leadership source tells First Read that things are moving so fast that a basic agreement could be done by mid-day.”

“By the way, these are the conferees working on the stimulus compromise… From the Senate: Democrats Harry Reid, Max Baucus and Daniel Inouye, and Republicans Chuck Grassley and Thad Cochran. From the House: Democrats David Obey, Charlie Rangel and Henry Waxman, and Republicans Jerry Lewis and Dave Camp. The average age of these 10 men: 71.”

UpdateABC News reports negotiators “have come to an agreement on the top line figure for the recovery bill: $789.5-billion.”

Some Senators Admit Tax Errors, Many Refuse to Answer

Last week, Politico “asked the offices of all 99 sitting senators to say who prepares their taxes, whether they or the Internal Revenue Service has ever discovered an error on returns they’ve filed, and whether they’ve ever had to pay back taxes.”

Of the 56 senators who have responded to the survey, eight said that mistakes have been made on their tax returns, and six said they have paid back taxes. Thirty senators said that no mistakes have been discovered on their returns and that they’ve never paid back taxes — at least to the best of their recollection. Two senators said they would not respond and 42 others failed to respond at all.

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