The First Draft: roller coasters

February 5, 2009

JAPAN/All eyes will be on Capitol Hill today as the Senate moves closer to a vote on the massive $900 billion stimulus bill. Lawmakers added expanded help for home buyers late last night in a bid to attract much-needed Republican support, but it’s still unclear whether Democrats have enough votes to pass the measure.

In a Washington Post opinion piece, President Barack Obama urged Congress not to strip out ambitious efforts to upgrade schools, boost energy effiency and upgrade crumbling bridges and highways.

Voters “have no patience for the same old partisan gridlock that stands in the way of action while our economy continues to slide,” Obama wrote.

The Senate is likely to consider several provisions that would encourage low-cost mortgages for homeowners and shift spending to job-creating construction projects. A final vote is expected today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Obama jets down to Williamsburg, Virginia to huddle with House Democrats at their annual retreat. There’s an amusement park nearby, but Obama has probably had enough of roller coasters after the last several days.

Vice President Joe Biden will stop in at Williamsburg tomorrow before jetting off to Germany in an attempt to rebuild ties with allies that were strained by the Bush administration’s unilateralist tilt.

Obama’s cabinet picks continue to work their way through the Senate. Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis comes up for a vote in the early afternoon, and CIA director nominee Leon Panetta testifies before the Intelligence Committee.

No word yet on Obama’s choice for health secretary after Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.

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