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Congress: Back to work

Gentlemen (and ladies): Start your legislating... "[J]ust because health care is all anyone wants to talk about, Democrats aren't giving up on pushing a number of other controversial measures this fall. Reid summed up the hefty agenda in a statement provided by his office, 'Senate Democrats will continue to aggressively push legislation that boosts our economy and helps working families build a better future. Key items on this list are delivering on health insurance reform and clean energy, providing jobs by improving our infrastructure, and reining in the behavior on Wall Street that contributed to the economic downturn. We also intend to pass legislation that makes college more affordable and invest in critical domestic priorities.'" 
 
"President Barack Obama's relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, strained by differences over healthcare, will be tested by their talks on Tuesday in advance of his Wednesday night speech to a joint session of Congress."

"At least 23 House Democrats already have told constituents or hometown media that they oppose the massive healthcare overhaul touted by President Barack Obama," The Hill reports. "If Republicans offer the blanket opposition they've promised, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can afford to lose only 38 members of her 256-member caucus and still pass the bill."

But Roll Call reports that key liberals may be willing to bargain on the "trigger" option.

As Congress returns to work, the Alliance for Jobs and Affordable Energy, a group opposed to the cap-and-trade legislation, has written a memo arguing that the legislation's prospects are in a "worse legislative position today than when Congress adjourned for the summer." From the memo: "Any objective analysis of the cumulative impact of news reports, expressed public sentiment, editorials and opinion columns, and research studies would conclude that the cap-and-trade legislation passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives is in a worse legislative position today than when Congress adjourned for the summer.  While some Senators have begun to voice concern about various aspects of the bill we must continue a sustained effort until we are assured Congress will not pass this legislation."

"Financial services lobbyists are quietly pushing for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to give up his chairmanship of the Banking Committee and take up the gavel of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he is next in line following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)," Roll Call writes. "Such a move, they say, would remove a thorn from the banking industry, since Dodd has upped his anti-industry rhetoric ahead of his tough 2010 re-election bid."
 
More: "So far, Dodd has been playing his gavel choice close to the vest, although he recently signaled that a decision may become public as early as today… Banking lobbyists say they are confident [Tim] Johnson would take a less anti-industry tack in the upcoming regulatory reform legislation. In particular, they believe Johnson could help limit the scope of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency." So, the irony here is that Dodd is vulnerable in 2010 because he was Banking chairman when the economy collapsed, but the banking industry thinks he'd be too tough in enacting regulation.