29 April 2009
Today, President Barack Obama will have been in office 100 days. Throughout this period, he has been constantly reminded about the central role of the Senate in shaping legislation into a form in which it will be enacted into law, or not. As the first sitting Senator elected to the White House since 1960, the President has a keener sense than many of his predecessors about the power of one Senator to block legislative action on important bills. He understood, for example, that enacting his $787 billion stimulus bill depended ultimately not on the position of 257 House Democrats, but on the views of three moderate Republican Senators. The President also knew he could discourage the Senate from taking quick action when the market reacted to the confiscatory tax legislation adopted by the House in response to news reports about the $165 million in bonuses paid to AIG employees. For the remainder of his presidency, the Senate will largely be the body in which his goals are achieved or his hopes are dashed, and where the heat generated in the House will have time to dissipate.