POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/15

Kennedy’s Bill

With the passage of the Affordable Health Choices Act through his committee earlier today, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) released this statement:

“This room is a special place. In this room, my two brothers declared their candidacy for the presidency. Today, the nation takes another major step toward reaching the goals to which they dedicated their careers, and for which they gave their lives. They strived, as I have tried to do, for a fairer and more just America – a nation where every American could share fully in the promise of quality health care.

As you vote today, know that I am with you in heart and mind and soul, and I wish very much that I could be with you in person.

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Bonus Quote of the Day

“Then you would have some ‘splaining to do.”

— Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), doing his best Ricky Ricardo impression at Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing.

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Senate Committee Passes Health Bill

The Senate health committee has passed legislation to revamp health care, becoming the first congressional committee to act on President Obama’s goal of overhauling the health care system, NBC News reports.

“This bill must now be merged with the Senate Finance Committee bill before it goes to the floor. But the Finance Committee hasn’t even introduced its bill yet.”

Clinton Asserts Herself

Ben Smith notes the seating chart for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s much-anticipated speech this afternoon — like the speech itself — “seems designed to beat back the perception that high-profile envoys have diminished her power: Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, and Dennis Ross are seated in the front row.”

Meanwhile, Politico has a preview of the “muscular” speech which warns adversaries that they “should never see America’s willingness to talk as a sign of weakness to be exploited.”

Interesting side note: The White House scheduled a Rose Garden appearance for President Obama to discuss health care at the same time Clinton will begin her speech.

Stimulus vs. Recovery

In a funny appearance on the Daily Show, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said he disagrees with the “message experts” in Washington who want Democrats to call the “stimulus package” a “recovery package.”

Explained Frank: “Most people would rather be stimulated than recover.”

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Reid’s Haul

Sen. Harry Reid (D) raised $3.25 million during the second quarter of the year and now has $7.33 million in cash on hand with 16 months to go before the 2010 election, CQ Politics reports.

First Read: “Folks, that is a lot of money for a Senate race at this point in the cycle — especially for someone without an opponent right now.”

Would Palin Leave the GOP?

In an interview on Fox News, Mike Huckabee warned Sarah Palin against abandoning the Republican party.

Said Huckabee: “Whether she runs or not, she has an important voice, and I hope she remains — let me be real clear — a part of the Republican Party. I’m a little concerned when I hear her say that she may sort of branch out and go third party or go independent. That would be a big mistake because we need to rebuild the Republican Party, not abandon it.”

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Quote of the Day

“We’d like to do it with the votes of members of both parties. But the worst result would be to not get health-care reform done.”

— White House adviser David Axelrod, in an interview with Bloomberg, on President Obama’s willingness to push ahead without Republican support.

New Health Care Ad Targets Key Senators

The DNC released a powerful new ad in support of President Obama’s health care reform effort which will run for the next two weeks on cable television in Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and the District of Columbia.

Huffington Post: “From the details it is easy to infer just which Senate votes the White House and, by extension, leadership in the Democratic Party see as most critical to health care’s passage. No Senators are named in the ad. But the spot is airing in the home states of critical moderates — Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) — as well as recalcitrant Democrats — Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND — and retiring Republicans — Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) and George Voinovich (R-OH).” 

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Candidate Files Three Years Early

Andrea Nuciforo (D) filed papers to to run for Congress three years from now — in 2012. WBZ-TV reports the former Massachusetts state senator wants to run for the seat held by Rep. John Olver (D-MA) “who has given no indication of retiring.”

Said Nuciforo: “We think a campaign like this requires some lead time. And we will be prepared both financially and organizationally in 2012.”

Is Huge Deficit Key to Republican Comeback?

Peter Brown: “Since Walter Mondale raised the national debt as a major reason to change presidents a quarter century ago this month, the issue has been a political loser. Despite this history, Republicans have decided it may be their path out of the political wilderness.”

Some Worry Ensign Saga Not Over

The story of Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) affair “has entered an uneasy space in the Capitol, as the shock over the revelation that his parents paid the woman’s family has subsided, but colleagues and supporters remain nervous that the story is not over,” the Las Vegas Sun reports.

Said one Nevada GOP strategist: “There’s a nervousness that maybe the full story has not been told. Most people think there’s another shoe to drop.”

Politico notes that Ensign’s mistress “is the only participant in the love triangle to remain silent” and that she may the key to whether the senator can continue in office or not.

Meanwhile, on Hardball, comedian Bill Maher was hilarious in a discussion of the recent Republican sex scandals.

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Daily Pulse on Health Care Politics

House Democrats released their proposed health care reform package yesterday and all the coverage focuses on who pays for it.

New York Times: “House Democratic leaders took a big step toward guaranteeing health insurance for most Americans on Tuesday as they unveiled a bill that detailed how they would expand coverage, slow the growth of Medicare, raise taxes on high-income people and penalize employers who do not provide health benefits to their workers.”

Washington Post: “House Democrats announced a plan yesterday that would force the richest 2 million U.S. taxpayers to shoulder much of the cost of an expansion of the nation’s health-care system, by imposing a surtax of as much as 5.4 percent on income above $350,000 a year.”

Wall Street Journal: “House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled sweeping health-care legislation that would hit all but the smallest businesses with a penalty equal to 8% of payroll if they fail to provide health insurance to workers.”

Nonetheless, the bill is still a work in progress and as Roll Call notes, House Democratic leaders “acknowledged they still have much work to do to bridge intraparty differences and get a bill passed by August.”

In the Senate, The Hill notes the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee “was poised to complete its four-week-long markup of its portion of the upper chamber’s bill Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, the Finance Committee would begin its markup as soon as next week.”

Democrat Chu Wins California Special Election

Judy Chu will be headed to Congress after winning Tuesday’s special election in California’s 32nd congressional district, reports CQ Politics

She was a heavy favorite in the House district vacated in February after Hilda Solis was confirmed as President Obama’s secretary of Labor.

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