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January 28, 2010 - by Eric Naing

With the State of the Union behind us, Congress can get back to work. Most of the big-ticket items on Congress’ agenda have been on hold until after the speech. Unfortunately, it not clear if Congress knows what it’s going to do now:

  • Congressional Democrats have been looking to President Obama for leadership on health care reform. Last night he delivered, maybe. After stressing the importance of the issue and how close Congress has come in passing a bill, the president appeared to advocate for the passage of the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590). Obama told Congress, “As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we’ve proposed.” (The Hill)
  • Apparently that wasn’t clear enough for Congress, though. Post-State of the Union health care reactions from lawmakers were decidedly mixed. While many Democrats seemed optimistic that a vote could be forthcoming in the next few weeks, others such as Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] and Sen. Mark Pryor [D, AR] seemed to imply that there may not be any action on health care in the near future. (The Daily Caller)
  • President Obama last night called out the Supreme Court for their Citizens United decision. One way to respond, says a broad coalition of powerful liberal organizations, is backing the Fair Elections Now Act. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV], environmental, political and union leaders voice their support for the plan to publicly finance elections. One point of interest, as Greg Sargent notes, is that then-Sen. Barack Obama was at one point a co-sponsor of the Senate’s version of the bill (S.752). (The Plum Line)
  • President Obama also called upon the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass a jobs bill. Senate Democrats have been working on their version for weeks, but today Harry Reid announced that the bill will be unveiled next week. (Reuters)
  • In non-State of the Union news, the Senate today voted to give Ben Bernanke a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Earlier, the Senate voted 77-23 to end debate on the nomination. The move cleared the way for the final 70-30 vote confirming Bernanke. Supporters of the Fed chairman warned that rejecting him could lead to a financial downturn domestically and abroad. Opponents of Bernanke cited his role in the housing crisis and the massively unpopular bank bailouts as reasons to vote against him. Despite all the furor and worrying over the confirmation, the vote was surprisingly overwhelming for today’s standards. No Federal Reserve Chairman has ever been rejected by the Senate. (The Wall Street Journal)
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