The big show in Washington on Tuesday is President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, but the Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote on former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next secretary of defense is not far behind.
Obama’s 9 p.m. EST speech in the House of Representatives chamber will be his best chance to shape the national agenda for his second term, Yahoo News reporter Olivier Knox notes in a speech preview, but many of his goals already face considerable Republican opposition.
Although Obama is expected to talk about immigration, climate change, gun violence and the deficit, the sluggish economy is certain to make jobs a high-profile topic in the speech.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will deliver the Republican rebuttal to Obama's speech, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will give the Tea Party response. (Are the two speeches an early look at the 2016 fight for the GOP nomination?)
On Monday, the Democratic National Committee held a conference call to offer a "prebuttal" to Rubio's speech. "Given the late hour [scheduled for Rubio's on-camera response] we thought this would be a good opportunity for us to make some comments about what we anticipate based on the record that we have that Sen. Rubio is likely to address and how we would respond to that," DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said on the call.
Earlier Tuesday, Washington will be focused on the Senate Armed Service Committee when it convenes to vote on Hagel’s nomination. Hagel faces intense opposition from Republicans who have challenged his past statements and votes on Israel, Iran, Iraq and nuclear weapons.
Republicans forced a delay in a committee vote last week when they asked Hagel for more information about his personal finances. Tuesday’s committee vote is expected to break along party lines — 14 Democrats for Hagel, 12 Republicans against their former colleague.
Also worth noting on Tuesday: A Senate Judiciary subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence: Protecting Our Communities While Respecting the Second Amendment.”
And then there is this: Tuesday is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. He was born in 1809.