Tales from the Trail

Snowe says “yes” to Wall St. bill

The decision is in….snowe2

Senator Olympia Snowe has ended the suspense, announcing that she will support the financial regulatory reform bill.

Snowe, a moderate Republican from Maine,  joined fellow Republicans Scott Brown and Susan Collins – the other senator from Maine — in saying “yes” to the measure that most in their party strongly oppose.

Their backing leaves Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democrats just one vote shy of the 60 needed for the measure to advance.

While still on the fence over the weekend, Snowe said that the most important thing for her was “to get it right.”

In a statement on Monday, she said the legislation isn’t perfect but “takes necessary steps to implement meaningful regulatory reforms, create strong consumer protections, and restore confidence in the American financial system.”

Obama transport security pick avoids Iraq contract pothole

President Barack Obama’s pick to oversee U.S. transportation security appears to have dodged a major pothole on the road to being confirmed by the Senate after assuaging concerns about a government contract his old firm won to provide interrogators in Iraq.

Retired Major General Robert Harding was under the microscope at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday for his nomination to head the Transportation Security Administration, a job that has been filled on a temporary basis since Obama took office.

Harding spent more than three decades in the U.S. military, including a stint as deputy to the Army’s chief of intelligence and director for operations in the Defense Intelligence Agency. After retiring, he set up his own security consulting firm which he sold last year. SECURITY-AIRLINE/

US senator says no way to $200 million for 9/11 trial security

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins rarely raises her voice to emphasize a point but on Wednesday she spoke forcefully against spending some $200 million on security for the trials of the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including the self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

“It’s the safe assumption that Congress is not going to appropriate $200 million for the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City,” Collins told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during a hearing on the department’s fiscal 2011 budget.

USA/“It is not going to happen,” she said, adding that some of the money would be better spent on other things, such as resources for the U.S. Coast Guard.

With less than 70 minutes to spare…

U.S. Senate Democrats had less than 70 minutes to spare when they finally filed the paperwork on Saturday for the compromise they reached with a handful of Republicans for the $827 billion economic stimulus package, setting up a vote for early next week.

USA/Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had hoped to file the specific language much earlier on Saturday but drafting took significantly longer. The compromise measure, some 778 pages long, was brokered by Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Ben Nelson.

With the paperwork filed, that will set a vote for 5:30 p.m. EST on Monday to wrap up debate on the stimulus package. If there are 60 votes, the Senate will vote on passing the legislation on Tuesday

Two more pickups for Democrats in Senate

WASHINGTON – Democrats are expected to pick up two more Republican Senate seats: North Carolina and New Hampshire, according to projections by television networks.

After a campaign that turned particularly nasty in the final weeks in North Carolina, Fox News projected Democratic state lawmaker Kay Hagan would defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, NBC News projected that Republican Sen. John Sununu would lose to Democratic rival Jeanne Shaheen.