Morning Roundup

Thursday Morning: Biden's Birthday; Napolitano For DHS; And Waxman Vs. Dingell

Good morning, and a very happy 66th birthday to Joe Biden. Via the campaign, Barack Obama threw his VP-elect a little cupcake party yesterday to celebrate:

President-elect Barack Obama surprised him yesterday with cupcakes after their weekly lunch. Then, the President-elect led the staff in singing him happy birthday and gave him a Chicago White Sox hat, a Chicago Bears hat and a bucket of Garrett's popcorn as gifts.

On today's schedule: Biden celebrates with his family, Obama has private meetings in Chicago, and future chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will be on the Hill reaching out to Republican leaders.

Two more potential Cabinet picks leaked out overnight. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is apparently Barack Obama's choice to head the Department of Homeland Security. As Governor of a border state, Napolitano is well-versed in border-control and immigration issues. Prior to her election as governor, Napolitano was U.S. Attorney and Attorney General of the Grand Canyon State. Arizona does not have a Lieutenant Governor, so if Napolitano accepts the position at DHS, the remainder of her term will be filled by Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a Republican.

And CNN is reporting (unconfirmed elsewhere) that Obama's campaign finance chair Penny Pritzker is a frontrunner for Secretary of Commerce. Pritzker, an heir to the family that founded Hyatt Hotels, is currently the chair of Classic Residence By Hyatt. If she is nominated, Pritzker could face tough questioning in confirmation hearings about her involvement with Chicago Superior Bank — which failed in 2001 under the weight of too many subprime loans.

In news of the ongoing Hillary Clinton/Secretary of State saga, Bill Clinton has reportedly agreed to release the names of his foundation's donors to the Obama team — "including those who gave gifts anonymously", according to the Washington Post:

Aides to both Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said that a formal job offer had not been made, but the former president's decision to disclose the identities of donors to his charitable foundation and to vet his future speeches and overseas activities with members of the Obama administration appears to have removed some of the biggest hurdles to her nomination.

Obama aides said yesterday that it would be difficult for Sen. Clinton to walk away from the secretary of state post. Obama's staff has thoroughly vetted both Clintons with the understanding that, if he should make an official job offer, she would accept.

Clinton sources continue to tell reporters that she has not yet decided whether she would accept the State offer.

Over on the Hill, high drama among House Demcorats as Henry Waxman (D-CA) continues his charge to unseat John Dingell (D-MI) as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Yesterday the Democratic Steering and Policy Panel narrowly voted to give Waxman the chair. Dingell, 82, has been the top Democrat on the committee for nearly three decades, but has come under fire from environmentalists who see him as too protective of Michigan's auto industry at the expense of environmental protections. (Not to mention that Dingell's wife Debbie is an executive at GM.) The full House Democratic caucus votes today, and Dingell's supporters are optimistic that he will prevail with the support of moderates and proponents of the seniority system.

The internecine showdown comes just after representatives from the U.S. auto industry appeared before the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee this week to ask for bailout assistance. (Not helping their case: the fact that the Big Three execs flew from Detroit to Washington in private jets — separately! — when there are perfectly good flights on Northwest all day long. Into National even!) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had proposed sending Detroit $25 billion from October's bailout package, canceled a vote on the measure after it became clear it lacked sufficient support to pass.

And finally, not political but certainly news-related...we are devastated to inform you that it looks like Out of Town News in Harvard Square may be closing its doors early next year. Apparently the appetite for newsprint has diminished to the point where the stand is no longer profitable. Noooooooooooooooo!

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