TPMDC Morning Roundup

Today: Obama’s Big Trip To Canada
President Obama is making his first foreign trip as president today, arriving in Ottawa at 10:30 a.m. ET. At 11:40 a.m. ET he will arrive Parliament Hill for a 12 p.m. ET meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, followed by a 2:45 p.m. ET joint press conference, and a short 4 p.m. ET meeting with opposition Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. Then at 4:20 p.m. ET he’ll meet with US Embassy employees and their families, before leaving the country at 5:15 p.m. ET and arriving back at the White House at 7 p.m. ET.

Canada Visit Focusing On Trade
The big issue today for Obama’s visit is expected to be free trade, as Obama assures the United States’ largest trading partner that there will not be any protectionist measures coming down. Afghanistan will also be an issue, as Canada is moving to remove its combat troops from that country.

Biden At CIA Today
Joe Biden will be at CIA Headquarters this afternoon, to conduct the ceremonial swearing-in of Leon Panetta as CIA Director, and to give a speech on the role the CIA plays in national security. Then this evening he will host a dinner for foreign policy experts.

Dem Lawmakers Visit Gaza, Hillary Also Pledging Help
John Kerry has now visited the Gaza Strip, while Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) also made their own separate trip to survey the situation and meet with aid groups — a very rare thing for an American lawmaker to do. In addition, Hillary Clinton has announced she will attend a donors’ conference in Egypt, on March 2, to help with rebuilding efforts.

Report: Sebelius Top Choice For HHS
The New York Times reports that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is currently President Obama’s top choice to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Others are still under consideration, however, and it’s not clear whether the beefed-up vetting process will be done by next week.

Scientists Await Action On Stem Cells
The Washington Post reports that scientists are awaiting White House action to reverse the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research — and some are disappointed that it hasn’t happened already. “The word the president is ‘considering’ it is too vague a word for me,” said Amy Comstock Rick of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research.

Roy Blunt Expected To Declare Senate Run Today
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who stepped down as House Republican Whip after the 2008 defeats, will reportedly announce today that he is running for the Senate seat of retiring GOP Sen. Kit Bond. He faces a potential primary against former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2008 gubernatorial primary, while Democrats have rallied around Secretary of State Robin Carnahan in what will likely be a close general election.