I’m Sara Sciammacco of Capitol News Connection. This Week in Congress...
Early in the week lawmakers centered their talk on reining in spending and getting out of debt. Tuesday morning, Ohio Republican George Voinovich went to the White House for a meeting with the President. Many thought he’d get his arm twisted on health care, but instead they talked about the national deficit.
VOINOVICH: "He is trying to do the best thing, the President got lots of problems on his hands, he is a decent man, he is trying move things down the road."
The Senate shot down the idea to create a powerful bi-partisan commission, but President Obama backs it and will use his executive powers to carry it out. Another idea is to freeze discretionary spending for three years. Wyoming Republican Cynthia Lummis isn’t convinced it would do enough to reduce the shortfall. She compared the move to that of a recovering alcoholic.
LUMMIS: "It is a little bit like someone who has a substance abuse problem saying I’ve got a problem so that much I appreciate."
By mid-week Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was on Capitol Hill. He got a scolding from Massachusetts Democrat Steve Lynch for his role in the financial bailout of AIG. Lynch expressed anger that big Wall Street firms profited off taxpayers. Geithner defended himself.
LYNCH GEITNER: "The American taxpayers would not have been better off there is a difference than letting them default."
Later that evening, President Obama came to US Capitol to deliver the long-awaited State of the Union address. Members wanted to hear about what he was going to do to get people back to work.
OBAMA: "We should start where most new jobs do in small businesses."
That struck a chord with many moderate Democrats. Utah Republican Bob Bennett didn’t have many words of praise after the speech.
BENNETT: "When he got into the middle between the beginning and then and got into the policy stuff it was mainly mush."
There weren’t any major "Joe Wilson type" interruptions but one moment caught on tape...involved Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito after the President criticized a recent campaign finance ruling. Alito appeared to mouth the words "not true." Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions said President Obama acted inappropriately.
SESSIONS: "To just attack the court like that in public incorrectly is just wrong."
On Thursday, some Democrats decided to ride populist wave of anger against Wall Street. They voted to oppose the nomination of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second term. California Senator Barbara Boxer faces a tight re-election in November.
BOXER: "I think the message is take a look at Main Street not just Wall Street you know."
Critics say Bernanke didn’t do enough to prevent the financial collapse, but others praised him for saving the US and world economy. On Friday House Republicans invited the President to speak at their annual retreat in Baltimore. He took questions, and also took number of jabs from GOP members. The President asked the caucus to work with him.
OBAMA: "I’m not suggested but if the way these issues are being presented is that this is someone wild eye plot to impose …what happens to negotiate with me many of you if you voted with the administration on something our political in your own party."
Next week President Obama submits his federal budget to Congress. Later in the week…a hearing to figure out how to legislate around the new Supreme Court campaign finance ruling.
That was This Week in Congress. I’m Sara Sciammacco, Capitol News Connection.