Politics Digest

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009


48th Birthday to Entail Lunch With Senators

President Obama will celebrate his 48th birthday Tuesday by spending at least part of the day working.

Obama will have lunch with Senate Democrats at the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday. They will probably discuss health care, the economy, energy legislation and the "Cash for Clunkers" program.

Gibbs did not say how Obama would spend the rest of the day.

Obama kicked off his birthday celebration a few days early with a weekend trip to Camp David with his wife, daughters and mother-in-law, as well as friends from Chicago and Hawaii. There, the president played basketball and bowled (a 144, Gibbs said).

-- Cheryl W. Thompson


Grassley Says Bill May Be Ready by Nov.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee launched health-care negotiations Monday in the final week before the Senate recess, while holding out a glimmer of optimism that an end is in sight. The top Republican on the committee, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), was quoted by Radio Iowa on Monday predicting that Congress could send a health-care bill to President Obama by Thanksgiving.

"If we get a bill on the Senate floor by the third or fourth week of September, it's probably going to take two weeks. Probably take a month to negotiate the difference between the House and Senate provisions, so I would suggest the middle of November," he said.

In the meantime, the Finance Committee's agenda Monday included determining whether health insurance coverage would be extended to illegal immigrants. "We want to make sure they don't get it," Grassley told another radio station in a separate interview.

-- Shailagh Murray


Sestak to Launch Bid Against Specter

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) will formally announce his candidacy against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) on Tuesday morning, setting up what promises to be a bitter battle for the 2010 Democratic nomination between the party-switching incumbent and a member of Congress who has built his reputation on his party-bucking tendencies.

Specter has the backing of nearly every major figure in the party. Sestak will focus his attacks on Specter's Democratic bona fides.

-- Chris Cillizza

© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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