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Senate Will Debate Two More Nominees

Correction Appended

Just one day after sports fans tune into the Super Bowl, the Senate will turn to its latest game of political football as it debates two more Obama administration nominees. The Senate is set to vote Monday on Joseph Greenaway, a judicial pick for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, and on a procedural motion for the nominations of Craig Becker, a controversial nominee to the National Labor Relations Board.

Becker was approved along party lines by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this week, with Republicans expressing concerns about the nominee’s ties to labor and warning that he would use his perch on the board to enact provisions in the controversial “card check” bill, which would allow unions to organize through a petition process.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture motions on both nominees at the end of the week to break an impasse with Republicans. Reid and President Barack Obama have stepped up their criticism of GOP holds on crucial nominations, but even pressure from the White House has not moved things along. Protesting military contract decisions that directly affect business in his state, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) placed holds on all pending nominations on the Senate calendar. Shelby’s holds can only be broken through procedural motions.

Senate Democrats are also expected to push the first in a series of job creation bills next week. Democrats hope to woo a handful of Republican supporters for the first bill and perhaps even vote on final passage before adjourning for the weeklong Presidents Day break.

Meanwhile, the House will meet on Tuesday and is expected to begin consideration of the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2010 — giving both Democrats and Republicans plenty of debate time to burnish their national security credentials.
The House could also take up the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act, a measure that would repeal the antitrust exemptions for health and medical malpractice insurance companies.

Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said the antitrust act will give Democrats the opportunity “to make the case to the American people — again — that the insurance companies must be held accountable and that ensuring competition is critical to consumers.”

Elshami said Democrats will continue to talk about their economic recovery package and will be watching closely how jobs bills proceed in the Senate.

House Republicans will continue to push their “better solutions” package and hammer the Democratic agenda as expensive and inept, GOP aides said.

On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the federal government’s response to Toyota’s recent recall of millions of cars because of malfunctioning gas pedals.

Correction: Feb. 9, 2010

The article incorrectly stated that a scheduled Monday vote on Joseph Greenaway was procedural. It was to be a vote for confirmation.

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