Dinner, Road Trip, Turkey Pardoning Planned for Obama, Biden This Week
Last year, President Obama pardoned a turkey named Courage, above, who got a trip to Disneyland. This year’s turkey will go to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
This holiday week seems to be regular fare for President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
While the president has no public events scheduled Monday, Vice President Biden will host a breakfast meeting for outgoing House Majority Leader (and Minority Whip-in-waiting) Steny Hoyer.
Mr. Biden follows that by sitting down with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Almost certain to be on the agenda: the upcoming showdown over the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) when the Senate returns from the Thanksgiving recess.
The Republican point man on the matter, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, has said he doesn’t think there’s time to bring it up during the lame-duck session, but the Obama administration hasn’t relented.
As the Washington Post reports, U.S. allies in Europe also expressed concern about a possible failure to ratify New START at the NATO summit this past weekend.
Later in the day, the vice president and his wife, Jill Biden, will host a Thanksgiving dinner at the Naval Observatory for the Wounded Warriors Project and families of veterans and service members being treated at area military hospitals.
On Tuesday, the president and vice president will hit the road together, traveling to Kokomo, Ind., as part of the White House to Main Street tour.
The two will no doubt tout the effectiveness of the Recovery Act and the auto rescue program when they visit a local Chrysler plant that received $89 million dollars in stimulus funds, modernized its facilities and retained more than 1,000 workers, according to the administration.
On Wednesday, the president will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate in a Rose Garden ceremony.
Unlike in past years, when the turkeys would get a trip to Disneyland, the birds this year will be driven to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia. The fortuitous fowl will be on display for visitors during the “Christmas at Mount Vernon” program, which runs through Jan. 6.
AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
When Congress returns next week, one of the key issues confronting lawmakers will be the long-awaited Defense Department report on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Sunday he would release the review on Nov. 30, a day earlier than originally planned, so that the Senate Armed Services Committee can review the document before holding hearings with the authors and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gates, addressing reporters on a trip to Bulgaria, made clear yet again his preference that the policy be changed in Congress and not by the courts.
“All I know is, if this law is going to change, it’s better that it be changed by legislation than it simply be struck down — rather than have it struck down by the courts with the potential for us having to implement it immediately,” Gates said.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
By moving up the release of the “don’t ask” review, the proposal from the president’s bipartisan fiscal responsibility commission will have Dec. 1 all to itself.
On Monday, the Washington Post takes a look at consensus forming on the steps needed to cut the deficit, which includes this nifty sidebar graphic that compares the draft plan offered by the commission’s co-chairs to two other proposals.
The graphics doesn’t include the plan offered last week by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., which takes a starkly different approach from the others, targeting deeper cuts to the defense budget and ending some of the current tax breaks for corporations.
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