Sunday, June 26, 2005

What's Next?

We've got a busy political week ahead. Here's some of what's on the immediate horizon.

The Senate reconvenes tomorrow, Monday, at 1 p.m. for a period of morning business. They will resume consideration of the Interior Appropriations bill at 3 p.m., and debate that for as long as they're in session. There are no roll call votes scheduled. On Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. a vote is scheduled for final passage of the energy bill, after which debate on the appropriations bills will be resumed. We may see Majority Leader Bill Frist file another cloture petition on the John Bolton nomination as early as tomorrow; if that happens, a vote could come on that motion as early as Wednesday or Thursday. The Senate will complete its business for the week probably late Thursday or Friday, and then will not be in session the week of July 4.

The House meets at 12:30 p.m. Monday, with morning hour speeches until 2 p.m. Several items will be considered under suspension of the rules, but there will be no votes until 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and the remainder of the week will be devoted to appropriations bills, with those pertaining to Foreign Ops, Transportation, Treasury, and HUD on the docket. The Water Resources Development Act may also be debated.

President Bush will meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Monday at the White House, and will also be planning for his primetime Tuesday night speech to the nation, to be delivered from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The Supreme Court tomorrow will likely hand down rulings in the last few cliffhanger cases of the term beginning around 10 a.m. Outstanding decisions include questions over the constitutionality of Ten Commandments displays on government property, the right of record companies to sue music downloaders, competition among high-speed Internet providers, and cases concerning death penalty appeals and restraining orders. More on those here.

Of course the moment all will be waiting for with bated breath is the question of Supreme Court retirements. Will Rehnquist retire? Will O'Connor? Will both? Will neither? Will we get a surprise retirement from Stevens? The answer to all of these questions, and to the inevitable 'what happens next?' corollary, is still at this point a big fat 'who knows.' As someone quipped on CNN this evening, those who know are talking, and those who are talking don't know. So, we shall see. One thing's for certain - if we get an announcement tomorrow (and over the past several days I've been feeling increasingly confident that we might not, at least not first thing in the morning), the interest groups on both sides are going to kick into high gear like it's nobody's business. It's not going to be pretty.

An announcement tomorrow would probably gum up the works for the Senate, the interest groups, the media, and the blogosphere for days. Everything else currently on the agenda will be quickly swept away while the nomination battle (and it will be a battle) takes center stage. I see only one possible positive from that - it would be the perfect time for the Bolton nomination to just ... slip away.


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