It looks like the Senate will avoid going “nuclear,” after reaching terms for a deal shortly before a key set of votes on President Obama’s executive nominees.
But the agreement still needs to get White House approval--since it requires Obama to withdraw the nominations of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin to sit on the National Labor Relations Board. It depends on the president going along and pledges to find replacements for Block and Griffin--and that appears to have happened as Richard Cordray passed a 71 to 29 cloture vote on Tuesday morning to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If the nominations were blocked by Senate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pledged to end the 60-vote supermajority rule for preventing filibusters on executive agency nominees.
The deal allows five of the nominations to go forward, including Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Gina McCarthy as Environmental Protection Agency administrator, and Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary. Any replacements to sit on the five-person NLRB would need to would receive votes before an August deadline. - Read more at Business Insider
SEQUESTRATION--THE SEQUEL A second year of sequestration is becoming increasingly likely as political gridlock in Washington continues, and that could give President Obama even more control over the federal budget. Steve Bell, a former GOP Senate budget advisor, told The Fiscal Times that Congress has been gradually and inadvertently “handing control of the purse over to the executive branch” by allowing sequestration to continue. Relatively anonymous bureaucrats are now making budgetary choices that once belonged to committee chairmen. In addition, many on Capitol Hill have concluded that the nearly $90 billion worth of sequester cuts that began to take hold this year weren’t nearly as harmful to the economy or government programs as Obama and others claimed they would be.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
BRITS PROBING KEY OBAMACARE CONTRACTOR Serco Group, the United Kingdom-based, parent company of the firm recently awarded $1.2 billion by the U.S. government to manage key elements of the Obamacare rollout, is under investigation for allegedly overbilling the British government by “tens of millions of pounds.” The British government will review all of its contracts with the firm and suspend a separate contract Serco had with the country’s prison system. Alan Hill, a spokesman for the Reston, VA-based branch, said the investigation will not affect the company’s contract with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and they plan to move forward with plans to assist in the implementation of the new Affordable Care Act. - Read more at The Washington Post
MORE OBAMA DONORS APPOINTED AMBASSADORS President Obama has rewarded more political supporters with diplomatic posts than any of his predecessors. According to the American Foreign Association, 32.2 percent of the president’s ambassadorial appointments have gone to political appointees. That’s compared to 30.02 percent under George W. Bush, 27.82 percent under Bill Clinton and 31.30 percent under George H.W. Bush. Just this year, at least 19 of Obama’s campaign contributors and political allies were appointed ambassadors. - Read more at The Hill
BERNANKE HEADS TO THE HILL AGAIN Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke will appear on t Capitol Hill Wednesday to deliver what may well be one of his last monetary policy reports to Congress. He is scheduled to testify before the House Financial Services committee at 10 a.m., and will return for an encore before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. The Fed chief’s second term ends in January prompting speculation about who President Obama will nominate as Bernanke’s successor. - See Wednesday’s hearing advisory here and Thursday’s here
GAS DRIVES CONSUMER PRICES UP IN JUNE The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported this morning that the consumer price index climbed 0.5 percent in June, narrowly beating economists’ expectations of 0.3 percent. The increase was largely due to crude oil price increases and concern over the tensions in Egypt, which controls the Suez Canal. Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.2 percent, in line with expectations. - See the report here