Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
President Barack Obama is delivering his first State of the Union address to Congress tonight, and is expected to issue a three-year spending freeze on certain government agencies.
White House officials say the freeze would cover air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition, and national parks. This comes after the U.S. Congressional Budget Office said in a new report that this year's deficit will be only slightly smaller than last year's $1.4 trillion.
The president's attempt to create a Congressional commission to tackle the nation's budget deficit was rejected by the Senate yesterday. The plan would have created an 18-member, bipartisan panel, which would have suggested ways Congress could combine tax cuts and spending reductions. The plan got 53 votes in the 100-member Senate, just short of the 60 votes required to pass.
But The New York Times is reporting that President Obama may create the panel anyway, by executive order during his speech tonight.
The White House also says the president will use his State of the Union to unveil a new plan for a better and quicker response to bioterrorism threats and attacks. This comes after the release of a report critical of the government's planned responses to such attacks.
President Obama will not ignore the dominant issue in the news either--the election of Scott Brown and what it means for the fate of the health care bill. Officials say the president will be renewing his committment to overhauling the nation's health care system in the speech, which you can listen to starting at 9 PM on WNYC.