Obama signs Senate health-care bill into law at 11:15 am ET… After that, the political world shifts its attention to other issues, like financial reform… On the reconciliation bill, the Senate parliamentarian makes his first ruling -- in favor of the Democrats… McCain vows not to work with the White House or Democrats for the rest of the year… The GOP's dilemma on what do now that health care has passed… NBC's Pete Williams breaks down the legal challenges to health care… And Meg Whitman has already spent $46 million on her race.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Moving on: At 11:15 am ET, President Obama will sign the Senate health-care bill into law. And later this afternoon, the Senate will begin its debate on the reconciliation fixes to the health bill. But beyond the drama over whether Senate Republicans can stymie those fixes -- and they failed in their first attempt -- the political world now begins to move on to other issues. Financial reform (the Senate Banking Committee moved its bill to the Senate floor). Immigration reform (after Sunday's march in DC). Middle East peace (with Obama's closed-door meeting at 5:30 pm with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu). The economy. Afghanistan. Iraq. Energy. And the upcoming midterm elections.
*** Dodd's push: Turning to financial reform, the Senate Banking Committee approved Chris Dodd's (D) bill on a party-line vote, sending the legislation to the Senate floor. "All 10 Senate Banking Committee Republicans opposed the measure proposed by Dodd," BusinessWeek says. "The 13-10 vote in Washington yesterday means negotiations will continue as the bill moves to the Senate floor." Why did Dodd force the legislation through committee? Answer: to get this on senate floor and find a few more Republicans to possibly support the bill, like Bob Corker and Judd Gregg. MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" interviews Gregg this morning. Neither Corker nor Gregg seemed thrilled with Dodd's decision to simply get the bill out of committee, but both issued optimistic statements saying they could make the changes they wanted on the floor. Even some Committee Democrats aren't happy with what Dodd pushed through, but everyone seems on the "fix it on the floor" page.
*** The parliamentarian makes his first ruling: The latest guidance, according to NBC's Ken Strickland, is that the Senate won't take up the reconciliation bill until after 2:15 pm ET. But Roll Call reports that Senate Democrats already scored their first victory with the parliamentarian. "Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin late Monday ruled against a Republican challenge to the health care reconciliation package, a Senate aide confirmed. Senate Republicans Monday afternoon argued to Frumin that a provision of the reconciliation package approved by the House violated Section 310g of the Budget Act. Had Frumin ruled in the Republicans' favor, the bill would have been stripped of its reconciliation status." By the way, both the White House and House Dems seem to doing everything they can to ignore the show in the Senate, simply expressing confidence that the Senate will approve MOST of the fixes. Steny Hoyer said on "Hardball" last night that the House was willing to re-take up a fixes bill if the Senate had to make some "minor" changes.
*** McCain vs. the White House: On the issue of immigration, we've long wondered whether John McCain -- who is facing a primary challenge this year from the right -- would end up working with the White House. Well, we got an answer yesterday. "There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year," McCain told an Arizona radio station, per the Washington Post. "They have poisoned the well in what they've done [on health care] and how they've done it." That remark prompted this response from White House adviser David Axelrod: "You know, that's okay on the sandlot, but that's not really okay when you're trying to govern a country and move a country forward. It's a disappointing attitude." And that drew this blistering comment from McCain's spokeswoman: "Sen. John McCain will always stand on the side of the American people. Get used to it, Mr. Axelrod, that's what strong, independent members do -- you'd know that if you had ever worked for one."
*** The GOP's dilemma: The Republican responses to health care's passage -- including McCain's above -- present the GOP with this question: What do they do now they've lost? Launch a full repeal campaign (as many Republicans like McCain are advocating), or steer a more pragmatic course (as David Frum is arguing)? "In political terms, Republicans face strong crosscurrents," the New York Times' Nagourney writes. "Polls suggest that a sizable part of the nation is unenthusiastic about the bill or opposed to it. Conservatives see it as a strike at the heart of their small-government principles… But at the same time, many provisions of the bill that go into effect this year … are broadly popular with the public… And in a week when Democrats are celebrating the passage of a historic piece of legislation, Republicans find themselves again being portrayed as the party of no, associated with being on the losing side of an often acrid debate and failing to offer a persuasive alternative agenda." The Paul Ryan solution is "Repeal and Reform"; can the GOP strike that compromise?
*** Breaking down the legal challenges: NBC's Pete Williams has a good explainer on the legal challenges that at least nine GOP state attorneys general are mounting against the health care legislation. They claim that the bill's "individual mandate," designed to push the uninsured into buying health insurance, is unconstitutional. Here's the issue, Williams says: The Constitution gives Congress authority "to regulate commerce." In general, once someone engages in commerce, the government can regulate it. But opponents say that does not include the power to require an individual to buy something -- like health insurance. Supporters of the bill, however, say Congress does have the power to regulate activities that have a cumulative effect on the economy -- like health care. Our question: Can these lawsuits be filed BEFORE the mandates go into effect? Or do they have to wait until 2014?
*** Midterm news: In California, Meg Whitman has already spent $46 million on her gubernatorial campaign, putting her well on pace to spend more than $100 million if she's the GOP nominee… In Illinois, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington says Alexi Giannoulias is a "dead man walking"… And in Utah, today is the first round of narrowing the candidate fields as the neighborhood caucuses take place.
Countdown to IN, NC, and OH primaries: 42 days
Countdown to NE and WV primaries: 49 days
Countdown to AR, KY, OR and PA primaries: 56 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 224 days