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Vice President Joe Biden heads to Virginia today, to promote the Obama Administration's gun control agenda. Meanwhile, a Hurricane Sandy relief bill that could bring some funding for our area edges closer to a vote in the Senate. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, gives an analysis of the issues.
On Biden promoting the Obama Administration's agenda in Virginia: "Virginia is a swing state politically. It's on the cutting edge, sort of right down the middle. It's purple in its attitudes toward public policy, as well as whom they want in the White House. The Vice President is taking a very important senator with him -- the newest senator from Virginia, Tim Kaine, who he is counting on to support the president's gun violence agenda. So that's one vote that he needs and thinks that he's got. He is hoping thereby to put some pressure on the state's other senator, Mark Warner, who was an initial proponent of doing something after the Newtown shooting. He had been backed by the NRA pretty significantly in the past. Now he's open to something... they want to secure his vote. Of course, there are some votes in the House they think are for grabs, so it's a classic swing state on this issue."
On the status of funding for the Hurricane Sandy relief bill: "This is going to happen next week. It seems pretty locked down. Sen. Reid last night arranged for only one Republican amendment to be in order. Mike Lee of Utah is going to offer a dramatic budget cutting amendment; it's not going to succeed. Then the Senate will pass the bill, and then it'll go to the president's desk... it'll be 88 days after the storm... it looks like it's a lock at this point."
On Sen. Barbara Mikulski's role in pushing the Sandy bill forward: "This is her first big test. And it happened pretty much immediately after she became the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee. She's had to start managing this bill. And she has done objectively a pretty good job... Now she turns her attention to another big test, which most spending committee chairmen don't have to face, which is by the end of March, the spending bills run out of steam... And at the same time she's getting ready for her long-term run at appropriations, and starting to think about what she can do for Maryland on this."