Thanks for waiting. Remember, tomorrow morning, Christmas comes (a few hours) early to the Senate with their final vote on health care. Apparently Vice President Biden will preside over the bill’s passage. That happens at 7am ET, with a press conference to follow at 8am. Stay tuned to FDL News for coverage.

And now…

• In a sign of how the nation’s largest state is still struggling during the Great Recession, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger basically asked for federal aid to fill a $20 billion dollar budget gap for the next fiscal year. He’s asking for $8 billion dollars in federal help, or the state’s main welfare program and the in-home supportive services program for the elderly and disabled would be eliminated. The House has passed some aid for states in their jobs bill, but nothing along the lines of $8 billion for California. The rest of the Governor’s plan includes furloughs and layoffs for state employees. Calitics’ Robert Cruickshank has more.

• Of course, it’s not just California at risk of mass layoffs in the wake of the stimulus aid running out. Teachers across the nation are at risk of losing their jobs due to lack of funds.

• Despite several missteps over his nonchalance in the face of double-digit employment, Ben Bernanke still seems to have the overwhelming majority of Democrats’ votes for his confirmation. It’s a bit surprising.

• Jon Walker adds another 16 ways to fix the Senate’s health care bill, bringing the total number of fixes to 50. It simply cannot be said that Walker, at least, is trying to “kill the bill” and not fix it. Meanwhile, Jason Linkins offers the rational case for “kill the bill”.

• Chris Bowers’ grand unifying theory of progressive frustration is the best explanation I’ve seen of why liberal Democrats are so upset right now.

• You can criticize President Obama for failing to deliver a meaningful climate accord in Copenhagen if you want, but Mark Lynas was in the room, and he says that China is to blame.

• The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, charged by Congress to explore the origins of the financial meltdown, will hold their first public hearing on January 13. And they’ve lined up quite a list of attendees for the first day of testimony: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack. Hopefully they can beat the weather and make the trip to Washington instead of participating by phone.

• Remember when AIG executives said they’d give back their bonuses because it wasn’t worth the hassle? Yeah, so does the Washington Post, and it turns out they haven’t given back more than a pittance.

• Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby sound pretty confident that they’ll move a financial reform bill to the Senate floor by January. They call the bipartisan talks around the issue “extremely productive.”

• Good article in The Nation about a burrowed Bush official named John Dugan, the current head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, who completely failed in his mission to regulate the banks, and he still has a job until his term expires in August 2010.

• Proving our unique nature as a country committed to the separation of church and state, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to weigh in on health care reform and restricting women’s ability to access a legal medical procedure.

• Brave New Films has created a new video about the tragedy of escalation in Afghanistan. It’s worth a watch.

• Sarah Palin and the right wing has managed to resurrect the death panel smear once again. I’d comment more, but I agree with Dave Weigel – there’s no need to write about the Facebook posts of that particular powerless and unelected conservative any more than a different one.

• The story of 2010 may be how Republicans are enabling the craziest extremists in their faction without saying a word.

• Ron Wyden is still trying to get his “Free Choice Act” into the health care bill. Yes, still trying. Good for him.

• Hey Joe Lieberman – nobody likes you. Congratulations.