Good morning from the White House press room...
The health care bill isn't quite done yet. Senate Republicans will be able to kill language in a measure altering President Obama's bill, meaning it has to go back to the House for final House approval.
This doesn't appear to be a big deal. Democratic leaders say the language in question concerns Pell Grants for college students; the changes won't affect the health care bill itself - or the grants, for that matter. Final House approval is likely before the weekend.
"The parliamentarian struck two minor provisions tonight from in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. But this bill's passage in the Senate is a big win for the American people," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Meantime, thought you were done hearing the President speak about health care? Au contraire. He heads to Iowa City today (which coincidentally is in Iowa), where he'll talk up his new health insurance reform bill, which Obama says will lower costs for small businesses and families.
Obama chose Iowa City because that's where he first announced his health care plan in May 2007; the University of Iowa Field House holds just 3,000 people and yesterday afternoon White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said there had been some 16,500 requests for tickets.
"We're going to need a bigger boat!" Gibbs tweeted.
The Iowa trip eats up most of Obama's day. He leaves right after his daily intelligence brief and senior staff meeting.
WWR has mentioned previously that U.S. efforts to get tough sanctions against Iran appear to be going nowhere - and that Tehran, in fact, has successfully called America's bluff over its nuclear program. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the administration is watering down its efforts to put the screws to Tehran, in hopes of winning support from Russia and China.
Just Tuesday, Secretary of State Clinton said the U.S. wanted "biting" sanctions that would hurt Tehran. But the Journal says the White House is scrapping efforts to choke off Tehran's access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran's national air cargo and shipping lines.
The U.S. worries Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons and is determined to prevent this. Iran says its nuclear activities are peaceful.
Arms Control Deal
But it looks like Obama will have one foreign policy success to crow about. The President and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, are set to announce an agreement on a new START treaty that would slash each country's arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons. Expect an official announcement shortly. The treaty, which of course requires Senate approval, would be signed by both leaders next month in Prague, the Czech capital.
9:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
10:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
1:00PM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks on health care reform
University of Iowa Field House, Iowa City
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will gaggle aboard Air Force One
On This Day...in 1933, President Herbert Hoover accepts the newly commissioned USS Sequoia as the official presidential yacht. For 44 years, the Sequoia served as an occasional venue for recreation and official gatherings for eight U.S. presidents. - courtesy of History.com
"The revenue of the country, levied almost insensibly to the taxpayer, goes on from year to year, increasing beyond either the interests or the prospective wants of the Government." - Franklin Pierce