The confirmation for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito moves one step closer this week when the Judiciary Committee is expected to vote out the nomination Tuesday. While full Senate debate begins Wednesday, it's unclear if the final vote will happen by Friday as the GOP leadership wants, or if Democrats will force it into early next week.
For Alito's supporters, it's not a matter of "if" he will be confirmed, it's more a matter of "when" and "by how much." All of the Republicans and 22 Democrats supported previous nominee John Roberts. But four of the 22 have already said they'll vote NO, while only one Democrat so far has publicly declared his support (Ben Nelson, Neb.). There is also a slim chance a moderate republican (Sens. Susan Collins, Maine, Olympia Snowe, Maine or Lincoln Chafee, R.I.) could vote against Alito for his comments on Roe v. Wade.
On Wednesday, the first hearing sparked by the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal begins in the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), which has jurisdiction over most of the issues involved. In addition to the testimony from Senators like John McCain, Ariz., who have their own lobbying reform plans, there will also be testimony from public and private groups with a stake in the lobbying world.
Hurricane Katrina continues to generate Senate hearings with two scheduled for this week. On Tuesday HSGAC looks at "the Hurricane Pam exercise," the 2004, 10-day mock hurricane to determine what impact it had -- if any -- on the preparedness for Hurricane Katrina. And Wednesday, the Banking Committee examines proposed changes to the national flood insurance program.