A roundup of news, schedules, and key stories from CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:
CBS News has confirmed that President-elect Barack Obama plans to meet on Monday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., before meeting with Republican leaders to discuss his economic stimulus plan.
CBS News has also confirmed that those GOP leaders are Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner.
President-elect Obama and his family returned to Chicago from their Hawaiian vacation early this morning. They will be moving to Washington, D.C. this weekend and they'll be staying in the Hay Adams Hotel, a block north of the White House, before moving to Blair House on Jan. 15, across the street from the White House – the traditional pre-inaugural accommodations for incoming presidents. Mr. Obama's daughters begin class at Sidwell Friends School on Monday.
The 111th Congress convenes on Tuesday and new members will be sworn in that day in both the House and Senate. The fate of Roland Burris, who was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, D-Ill., earlier this week to succeed Mr. Obama, is still unclear. Senate Democrats are allied against seating him; Burris has filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court to force Illinois' Secretary of State to certify his appointment, hoping that will bolster his argument to Senate Democrats that they must seat him.
Mr. Obama will also attend a lunch with President Bush and former Presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton at the White House on Wednesday.
Upcoming Obama cabinet confirmation hearings: Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Daschle, Thursday, Jan. 8, 10am, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee; Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis, Friday, Jan. 9, 9:30am, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. Future hearings: Education Secretary nominee Arne Duncan, Jan. 13; Energy Secretary nominee Steven Chu, Jan. 13; Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Eric Shinseki, Jan. 14; Attorney General nominee Eric Holder, Jan 15; Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar, Jan. 15. TBA: Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, Secretary nominee Shaun Donovan, Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner, HUD Transportation Secretary nominee Ray LaHood, Homeland Security Secretary nominee Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary nominee Bill Richardson, Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack. Defense Secretary Robert Gatesdoes not need to be reconfirmed.
BLAGO / OBAMA SENATE SEAT
Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet is not high on Burris's chances of getting seated next Tuesday: "Burris will arrive with no floor privileges because Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White will not certify his appointment. The Senate will likely refer the matter to the Rules Committee, where it will be handled as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible. For example, the rules panel will require a very, very, very complete investigation to make sure the appointment is stain-free. While the Senate Democrats are slow-walking, they want the Illinois House to fast-walk the Blagojevich impeachment proceedings, and then have a swift state Senate trial, conviction, and installation of Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn as governor. Quinn then can make the pick, preferably a Democrat with an excellent chance of winning either a special election or the 2010 contest. Given Burris' string of statewide defeats for senator and governor, he does not fit that profile."
David Kesmodel and Douglas Belkin write in today's Wall Street Journal, "Burris Predicts Senators Will Relent, Let Him Serve": "New senators and re-elected incumbents are scheduled to be sworn in when Congress convenes on Tuesday. What the Senate might do about Mr. Burris's appointment beforehand is unclear, but Mr. Burris said he is preparing to be at the Capitol. His race creates a dilemma for Senate Democrats, because Mr. Burris would be the only African-American in the chamber."
Politico's Alex Isenstadt looks ahead to Attorney General nominee Eric Holder's confirmation hearings: "Aides to Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and sources close to Holder say they're braced for a tough fight over his role in the Elian Gonzalez controversy, his relationship with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and most of all in his role in former President Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich. Republicans are pressing Holder for records on those issues and others."
"To some staunch conservatives watching President Bush relinquish the reins of power to President-elect Barack Obama, a few too many ardent liberals are now crashing the gates," reports Carol D. Leonnig in The Washington Post. "Some well-known Democratic activists are advising Obama on how to steer federal agencies, including a few whom conservative Republicans fought hard to keep out of power in the Clinton administration. They include Roberta Achtenberg, a gay activist whose confirmation as an assistant housing secretary was famously held up by then-Sen. Jesse Helms (N.C.), and Bill Lann Lee, who was hotly opposed by foes of affirmative action and temporarily blocked from the government's top civil rights job. Conservatives fear that some of these Obama transition advisers are too far left on the political spectrum and are a sign of radical policies to come."
CLINTON'S SENATE SEAT / CAROLINE KENNEDY
"Gov. Paterson yesterday roundly rejected the idea of appointing a caretaker to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat - all but ruling out the prospect that an elder statesman, like former President Bill Clinton or ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo, could get the nod," reports Brendan Scott in the New York Post. "Such an interim appointment had gained traction among Paterson's advisers in recent days as Caroline Kennedy's campaign for the vacancy opened to poor reviews. ... 'I'm actually opposed to that,' Paterson told reporters. 'It would cause New York to lose seniority, and in the United States Senate, the most effective senators are the ones that have seniority. So, I'm hoping that the person I select wins a primary.' Paterson's use of the word 'primary' suggests the governor expects that his pick to serve out the remaining two years of Sen. Clinton's term would face Democratic opposition if he or she seeks a full six-year term."
"For inauguration zeal, LBJ '65 may be the precedent for Obama," reports Sasha Issenberg in today's Boston Globe. "The 1.2 million spectators who mobbed Johnson's inauguration - still a record - are remembered today as little more than a trivia question and a crowd-control model. But as Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in Jan. 20 on Abraham Lincoln's Bible to inherit Franklin D. Roosevelt's economy - while facing inevitable comparisons to John F. Kennedy's style and Ronald Reagan's rhetoric - the 1965 event has begun to look like its own precedent: The only inaugural to compare to this one for sheer enthusiasm and participation by often-disaffected citizens. Then, as now, triumphant Democrats - especially African-Americans who played crucial roles in both sweeping victories - came to Washington both to welcome a new president and to enshrine a new coalition many of them imagined could permanently realign American politics."
"While millions descend on Washington for the historic inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, some Republicans see it as an occasion to get out of town," writes Politico's Jonathan Martin. "Out of power on both ends of Pennsylvania Ave and mostly out of favor on K Street, many emasculated elephants in the GOP herd will begin the Age of Obama with what amounts to an extended holiday vacation. Instead of fighting the quadrennial cold and what are expected to be record-setting crowds, they're heading out to greener pastures, with better temperatures, less hassle and more agreeable company."
MINNESOTA SENATE RACE
The St. Paul Pioneer Press has the latest on the Coleman-Franken recount.
LA Times' Janet Hook writes, "Moderate Republicans may be in big demand in Senate": "Congress has so few moderate Republicans that at least in the Senate they could squeeze into a Volkswagen Beetle. ... But this beleaguered minority has an opportunity to wield outsized influence on what President-elect Barack Obama can accomplish in Congress. Although Democrats made big congressional gains in the 2008 election, they are still a vote or two short of the 60-vote majority they need in the Senate to keep a tight rein on GOP filibusters that can easily gum up the works. The support of just one or two moderate Republicans could be decisive in a close, party-line vote on issues such as union rights and economic rescue plans. So though there may be fewer moderates in Congress, they are in for a lot of attention."
Former Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., died yesterday; The Providence Journal has a detailed obit and a photo gallery of Pell through the years. "Many praised Pell's work to create the 1972-vintage program of college grants to lower-income students that has assisted in the education of more than 50 million Americans," writes John E. Mulligan in today's Journal. "The Pell Grants are, in [Vice President-elect Joe] Biden's words, 'a legacy that will live on for generations to come.'"
Washington Post's Philip Rucker, "Hawaii's Still Waters Run Deep for the President-Elect": "Friends here say the country's first island-born president-elect has long carried more than a touch of the aloha spirit in his temperament. During the campaign, many admirers questioned whether Obama was too passive in his battles against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. John McCain. 'That's Hawaii,' declared Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), a contemporary of Obama's parents who has known the president-elect since birth. 'You take negative energy and you process it through you and it comes out as positive energy. . . . Every time Obama comes on television now, the collective blood pressure in the United States goes down 10 points. He cools the water. He's sober and he speaks sensibly in a calm manner that breeds confidence.' As Obama's wife, Michelle, has said, 'You can't really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii.' But to understand Hawaii is to make sense of America's most exotic outpost. It's the nation's last frontier, the 50th state, a string of volcanic mountains that rose from the sea to be settled first by Polynesians and later by a cultural melange of Asians and Anglos."