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While Obama's Bush tax cuts deal stews in the Senate, Democrats in the House are kickstarting a last-ditch effort to pass a repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" before the lame duck session ends. House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer [D, MD-5] and Rep. Patrick Murphy [D, PA-8] are introducing a stand-alone repeal bill today that will be identical in wording to the Senate's stand-alone bill (S. 4023), and they plan on bringing it to a vote in the House Wednesday before they move on to the tax cuts.

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Update on Tuesday's Unemployment Vote

July 16, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As some of you have noted in the comments, in my post last night on what's been going on with the unemployment bill, I came to the wrong conclusion about which bill -- H.R. 4213 or H.R. 5618 -- would be getting a vote on Tuesday. Because, as I explained, Senate Democrats had been setting up the procedure for bringing H.R. 5618 to the Senate floor directly (skipping the committee process), I figured that was the bill they were planning to move forward with. However, shortly after publishing the post, new information was posted on the Senate calendar that indicated H.R. 4213 would actually be the bill getting a vote.

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Meet Sen. Byrd's Replacement

July 16, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Associated Press is reporting that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin will appoint his former chief legal counsel, Carte Goodwin [D], to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] for the rest of this session. Manchin is scheduled to make an official announcement on the appointment later this afternoon.

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MSNBC is reporting that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (pictured) will appoint an interim replacement for Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] by Friday at 5 p.m. ET. Previous reports suggested that he might wait until Sunday to do so. This means that Senate Democrats could -- if they choose to -- keep the Senate in session over the weekend, swear in Byrd's replacement right away and begin voting on the unemployment insurance extension bill as soon as she is seated.

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Apparently West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's chat last night with election attorneys in his state didn't convince him to go ahead with appointing an interim replacement for Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] before the legislature meets on Thursday. Here's the latest on the situation, from the AP:

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The Week Ahead in Congress

July 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As Congress returns from their week-long vacation this afternoon, all the big items on the Democrats' legislative agenda remain stuck in the Senate where the Democrats are one vote short of overcoming Republican filibusters due to the passing of Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV].

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The two big items in the Senate right now -- the unemployment insurance extension and the financial reform bill -- are basically on hold until West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin appoints an interim replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV]. The Democrats need a senator voting from Byrd's seat in order to reach the 60 votes they need to break Republican-led filibusters of these measures.

But it's sounding like the Dems will not have a replacement for Byrd when they come back next week. This afternoon on MSNBC, Gov. Manchin said that he will wait until after a special session of the West Virginia state legislature clarifies the law in regards to the next election to fill Byrd's seat before he appoints an interim replacement. Transcript and video are below.

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Congress reconvenes from their July 4th recess on Monday and one of their first orders of business will be extending unemployment insurance benefits for the more than 2 million Americans who have had their benefits cut off over the past month due to congressional inaction. Here's a step-by-step rundown of what to watch for over the next several days as the pieces fall into place for getting the extension out of the Senate and signed into law so that millions of unemployed workers can finally get some relief.

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Replacing Byrd

July 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: Good news for all of you waiting for Congress to pass the unemployment insurance extension -- the AP is reporting that West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has issued the ruling that Gov. Manchin requested on whether he could hold a special election for Sen. Byrd's seat on the 2010 ballot. Manchin had said he would wait on the ruling before appointing an interim senator to fill the seat. As I reported below, the ruling wasn't expected until some time next week.

Now that the ruling is in, it's possible that Manchin will appoint a replacement before the end of the week so they they can be sworn in to the Senate on Monday. The interim senator is expected to give Senate Democrats the 60th vote they need to overcome a Republican filibuster of the unemployment insurance extension and move it forward towards becoming law.

 

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