Senate Democrats are expressing great frustration with rules that make it difficult to proceed with legislation. Senator McCaskill of Missouri asks: “What in the world are we doing?” Senator Levin of Michigan comments: “It’s unconscionable. The obstructionism has become mindless.” These old Senate Rules sometimes require the unanimous consent of all members, for example, to hold Senate committee or subcommittee hearings after 2:00 in the afternoon.
The full Senate voted 63-37 on Thursday, August 5, to confirm Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. With the support of nearly all Democrats, as well as five Republicans, there was very little surprise over the final outcome.
A $26 billion Senate bill, which includes $16.1 billion to help states pay for Medicaid and $10 billion for school districts, cleared a procedural hurdle on August 5 and is expected to come up for a final vote on August 6. The procedural vote passed the Senate by a vote of 61 to 38, with Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe voting with all 59 Democrats to end debate on the measure.
"Maybe I'm breathing the same pixie dust, but there's real momentum for this," says Esther Dyson, in a June 25 online article for Foreign Policy magazine reporting on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to California's Silicon Valley. Dyson, a globally celebrated technology guru, is a major promoter of Skolkovo, the ambitious project near Moscow that Kremlin leaders intend to make into a high-tech research and production center. (See Obama's Russia Adviser Michael McFaul and the Russian Spies.)