Washington Prowler

Serving Notice

Administration and Democrats prepare for immediate worst.

By 11.1.10

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JUST WONDERING
Which outgoing Democratic U.S. Senator is flouting Senate ethics rules by negotiating his upcoming million-dollar-salary private sector job heading a Washington business coalition while still serving on a committee that deals with issues that directly impact the industry he may soon be working for?

IMMEDIATE CONTINGENCIES
The Obama White House may be trying to put a brave face on the upcoming mid-term election results, but Barack Obama's political team and the White House Legislative Affairs offices, led -- for now -- by Phil Schiliro, has for several weeks now been mapping out a legislative strategy for a Republican-led House, and a 50-50 split in the Senate.

"We have been at least looking at what a 50-50 split in the Senate would look like, particularly from the perspective of Vice President [Joe] Biden's role," says a White House source. "It's also important for us to look at because if we have a lame-duck session, those days become far more important knowing we may have a very different situation in January."

But Senate Republican aides said the White House was wasting its time strategizing over a lame-duck session, "because to get anything major done you need to have 60 votes, and no one's going to have 60 votes in the current environment," said a Senate staffer.

A 50-50 split in the Senate would be a flashback to the 2001 Senate, when after the 2000 election cycle, Republicans and Democrats faced a 50-50 split and negotiated a "power sharing" agreement. Democrats would almost assuredly turn to Republican moderates, Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, to see if there was interest in switching parties. Both might be receptive should they be uneasy with growing influence of conservatives within their GOP caucus. But both had an opportunity in previous times to switch parties and declined to do so.

JUSTICE IS DONE
Look for a spate of political appointees at the Department of Justice to jump ship after the mid-term elections, some may site a desire to spend time with their families or to recoup lost income after two years of public service, but most will be looking to avoid being tainted by what many inside the department believe will be a scandal-plagued two years leading up to the 2012 election cycle. 

While no DOJ sources are willing to go on the record, conversations with several prospective returnees to the private sector indicated that they believe the ongoing scandal related to the Black Panther voter-intimidation case will grow larger and reach beyond the department and into the White House, particularly with Republicans controlling government oversight in the House.

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