Enough with the Economic Stimulus Package…well sort of.
There is a floor vote on concurrence in amendments and the bill should be on the President’s desk in 24-hours or so.
Today’s surprise de jour came from the Commerce Secretary Select, New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg. The Senator announced late this afternoon he was removing himself from consideration as President Obama’s Commerce Secretary.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, Senator Gregg announced, “it would be very difficult day in and day out to serve in this cabinet.” The Senator when on to stress his ideological differences with the President. The Washington Post is reporting that Senator Gregg had met with the President Wednesday morning and discussed his discomfort with the economic stimulus package and that he was leaning toward withdrawal.
The shock today comes from a mix of everyone scratching his or her heads from the Senator’s comments. President Obama, today in Peoria, Illinois speaking at the Caterpillar heavy equipment headquarters on his economic stimulus package, did not mention the Senator’s decision. He did say, in an interview with The Springfield Journal-Register, “It comes as something of a surprise, because the truth, you know, Mr. Gregg approached us with interest and seemed enthusiastic.”
Remember, as a Republican Senator, there was a long discussion about how his replacement for the next two-years would be handled by New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor. It was reported there was a discussion and a way to agree on how to make an appointment and allow the Senator to join President Obama’s Cabinet.
The Senator’s press conference stressed his inability for the New Hampshire Senator to work with the Democratic President, especially in light of the President’s economic stimulus bill. The same bill the Senator praised when he was nominated last Tuesday.
What a difference a week makes! It seems there is much more here than meets the eye relative to the Senator’s decision not to join the Democratic Administration. There are two other Republicans already in the cabinet, so it is not an issue of betrayal to the GOP. The New Hampshire Senator did mention at the end of his press conference he was not going to run for re-election to the US Senate in 2010.
The problem for the President is Commerce Secretary is a critical position in the Cabinet of the President, especially with the economy and the probable passage of the economic stimulus bill. his is the second person nominated who did not make it to confirmation. The first was former Presidential candidate and Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, facing an investigation by a New Mexico Grand Jury on contract related issues. The second is now Senator Gregg.
While President Obama keeps reaching across the aisle, it seems the traditional old school way of doing partisan political business continues to battle against what voters demanded in November.
This continues to be frustrating and while these bipartisan outreach by the President have been mostly rebuked, the GOP is building a record of not acting in a bipartisan matter. This may make for great potential campaign fodder for Democrats in the 2010-midterm Congressional elections against Republicans.
There would be a possibility that New Hampshire’s open Senate seat, vacated by Senator Judd, could turn Democrat as a result of his own confusing comments and actions today.