Friday, September 14, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, SEPT. 14, 2007 – 2:11 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Terrorism Insurance Backstop Headed to House Floor
  • House to Tackle Housing Crisis With Bill Liberalizing FHA Insurance
  • Peru, Panama Unionists Fight U.S. Trade Pacts
  • Former Gov. Shaheen Enters Senate Race in New Hampshire
---------------------------------

Today in Washington

The House convenes at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session.

The Senate convenes at 9:45 a.m. for a pro forma session.

The President attends lunch with military personnel at Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., followed by a statement at the base.

In Washington,  the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency host the 25th annual National Minority Enterprise Development Week conference, featuring Steve Forbes of Forbes Magazine and Robert Unanue, President of Goya Foods. All day. Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Rd. N.W.

---------------------------------

Top Stories

Terrorism Insurance Backstop Headed to House Floor

The House is slated to consider a long-term extension of the government’s terrorism insurance backstop early next week, suggesting Democratic leaders have resolved pay-as-you-go concerns that have delayed consideration of the bill.  [Read More]

House to Tackle Housing Crisis With Bill Liberalizing FHA Insurance

Seeking to ease the mortgage crunch now squeezing American homeowners, the House next week will consider legislation to allow the Federal Housing Administration to come to the aid of subprime borrowers facing foreclosure.  [Read More]

Peru, Panama Unionists Fight U.S. Trade Pacts

Labor leaders from Peru and Panama have joined the fight against two trade agreements Congress is expected to take up this year.  [Read More]

Former Gov. Shaheen Enters Senate Race in New Hampshire

Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire on Friday jumped into the race for the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Sen. John E. Sununu next year, significantly boosting her party’s prospects.  [Read More]

---------------------------------

TheCapitol.Net: Capitol Hill Workshop

This TheCapitol.Net three-day course offers an overview of the legislative process while highlighting the forces that influence decision making in Congress.
WHERE: In Washington, D.C.
WHEN: September 26-28, 2007, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day
Registration Fee: $1295
Full program description and online registration, or call our registrar at 202-678-1600.
This training conference is sponsored by TheCapitol.Net, exclusive provider of Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences.

---------------------------------

Political Clippings

The Billings Gazette reports that Montana state Senate President Bob Keenan, a Republican, is mulling a race next year against either Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer or five-term Sen. Max Baucus, who so far has only one Republican challenger, state Rep. Michael Lange of Billings. “Keenan has said he was approached by the National Republican Senatorial Committee about the Senate race. Last year, he mounted an unsuccessful Republican primary challenge to then-U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns. The Bigfork Republican intends to visit with senators and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee while in Washington later this month. “Keenan said, ‘Life is interesting. I feel like I am in the catbird seat.”’

According to the Daily Herald, another Gurnee, Ill., resident has joined the race for the Republican nomination to take on two-term Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean in the 8th District in Chicago’s northwestern suburbs. Kirk Morris, 49, joins Gurnee resident Ken Arnold and Steve Greenberg of Long Grove in the GOP derby. Bean has one Democratic opponent, Randi Scheurer of Lindenhurst, in the Feb. 5 primary election. “Towns in the 8th Congressional District include Gurnee, Barrington, Palatine, Antioch and Hanover Park. The districts spans portions of Lake, Cook and McHenry counties.”

---------------------------------

Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
CHICAGO: City Buys More Hybrids for Its Fleet
BUFFALO, N.Y.: Plan to Demolish 5,000 Vacant Houses Unveiled
MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz.: County Agrees to Cut Particulate Pollution
HENRY COUNTY, Va.: Ex-Sheriff Sentenced for Cover-Up
MISSOURI: Governor's Staff Routinely Purges E-Mails
TEXAS: Juvenile Commission Rejects Task Force Findings
NEW YORK STATE: New Rules Clarify Deals With Pension Fund
FLORIDA: Manatee Safety Trumps Boating

---------------------------------

Political Trivia

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., has dedicated much of his congressional career to crusading against tobacco use. His interest in the tobacco issue was deeply personal. The youngest of three brothers raised in East St. Louis by a father who was a railroad night watchman and a mother who was a switchboard operator, Durbin was just 14 years old when his chain-smoking father died of lung cancer. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

---------------------------------

Thursday, September 13, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, SEPT. 13, 2007 – 2:16 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Political Battle Continues Ahead of Bush’s Speech on Iraq Progress
  • House Democrats Eye Six-Week Stopgap Spending Bill
  • Warner Redux: Democrat Seeks Seat of Retiring GOP Senator
---------------------------------

Today in Washington

The House is in recess in observance of the Rosh Hashana holiday; reconvenes at 10 a.m. on Friday for a pro forma session.

The Senate is in recess in observance of the Rosh Hashana holiday; reconvenes at 9:45 a.m. on Friday for a pro forma session.

The President participates in a photo opportunity with recipients of the 2007 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award; delivers a 9 p.m. address to the nation about the Iraq War.

In Washington,  Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Armed Services Committee, will respond via broadcast feed to President Bush’s address to the nation.

---------------------------------

Top Stories

Political Battle Continues Ahead of Bush’s Speech on Iraq Progress

As President Bush prepared to defend his Iraq War strategy in a speech to the nation Thursday night, his Democratic critics continued to call for a faster drawdown of U.S. troops and a shift in their mission.  [Read More]

House Democrats Eye Six-Week Stopgap Spending Bill

Senior House Democrats are taking a hard look at a six-week continuing resolution that could buy some time for appropriators to shape their strategy for clearing the 12 fiscal 2008 spending bills.  [Read More]

Warner Redux: Democrat Seeks Seat of Retiring GOP Senator

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner said Thursday he will seek the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John W. Warner, giving Democrats their strongest possible candidate in a race that promises to be one of the marquee contests of 2008.  [Read More]

---------------------------------

Political Clippings

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Forsyth County Commissioner Ted Kaplan has become the latest Democrat to decline a chance to challenge Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C. He said he “decided not to join the race because being a U.S. senator would require him to spend too much time away from his family.” Kaplan had said in June he was interested in the race. Democrats have not yet found a challenger to Dole, seen by some observers as vulnerable to defeat.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower will seek the Republican nomination to challenge freshman Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. Mumpower calls himself an “independent conservative voice on Asheville’s liberal City Council.” Among issues he intends to focus on are immigration, the national debt and cutting “bureaucratic strangulation” of business, education and health care. Former GOP Rep. Charles Taylor, who lost to Shuler in 2006, has not yet announced whether he will seek a rematch.

---------------------------------

Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
DETROIT: Mayor to Fight $6.5 Million Verdict
CHICAGO: Transit Agency Accepts Temporary Bailout
BOSTON: District Attorney Expands State Police Duties
MILWAUKEE: Schools System Loses Special Ed Lawsuit
VERMONT: Judge Upholds State Rules on Auto Emissions
NEW JERSEY: Governor to Undergo Minor Surgery

---------------------------------

Political Trivia

A self-described “pro-business, pro-gun Democrat,” Rep. Dan Boren is the third generation of Borens to serve in Congress from Oklahoma. His father was Democrat David L. Boren, a U.S. senator who resigned his seat in 1994 to become president of the University of Oklahoma. His grandfather, Lyle Boren, served in the House from 1937 to 1947. The 2nd District of today includes about half of the area Boren’s grandfather once represented. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

---------------------------------

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12, 2007 – 2:14 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Iraq Bill May Focus on Mission Transition
  • Senate Panel Approves Fiscal 2008 Defense Spending Bill
  • Immigration Amendments Loom on Upcoming Bills, Session Says
  • Transportation-HUD Bill Passes as Senate Ignores Veto Threat
  • Senate Panel Votes to Raise Debt Limit to $10 Trillion
---------------------------------

Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate passed the fiscal 2008 Transportation-HUD spending bill (HR 3074).

The President has no public events scheduled.

In Washington,  the School of Advanced International Studies holds a discussion on Kazakhstan with Ambassador Erlan Idrissov. 5:30 p.m., Auditorium, 1619 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

---------------------------------

Top Stories

Senate Iraq Bill May Focus on Mission Transition

Senate Democrats hope to lure more Republican votes for a policy shift in Iraq by giving emphasis to a change of mission for U.S. troops there.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Approves Fiscal 2008 Defense Spending Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a $459.6 billion fiscal 2008 Defense spending bill that would reorient spending priorities away from weapons systems and toward increased military pay and health care, and improved equipment for the National Guard and reserve forces.  [Read More]

Immigration Amendments Loom on Upcoming Bills, Session Says

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a leading immigration policy critic, said Wednesday that amendments planned for upcoming legislation could put more than 4 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.  [Read More]

Transportation-HUD Bill Passes as Senate Ignores Veto Threat

The Senate passed its fiscal 2008 Transportation-Housing spending bill by a wide margin Wednesday, after killing an attempt to waive Davis-Bacon wage rules for maintenance and replacement of aging bridges.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Votes to Raise Debt Limit to $10 Trillion

The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation Wednesday to raise the debt limit to nearly $10 trillion.  [Read More]

---------------------------------

Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Democratic Rep. Tom Allen’s decision to leave his Maine 1st District seat to pursue a challenge to Sen. Susan Collins is creating a crowded field to replace him from both major parties. Democrat Chellie Pingree is leading the pack in fundraising and received an additional boost with a recent endorsement by Emily’s List. With the war in Iraq a central issue, Pingree, who wants to “bring the troops home,” may be strongly challenged by Democrat Adam Cote, an attorney and National Guardsman who served in Iraq. On the Republican side, Charlie Summers, another Iraq veteran, has the backing of former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, who both contributed money to his campaign.

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that former Republican Arizona state Rep. Laura Knaperek, a conservative newspaper columnist, is expected to announce that she will challenge freshman Rep. Harry E. Mitchell, D-Ariz., in next year’s election. The daily quoted sources as saying Knaperek has discussed a possible run with leading Republicans and business advocates and is expected to form a campaign committee. Knaperek joins former congressional staffer and business lobbyist Jim Ogsbury and state Rep. Mark Anderson as possible candidates. Mitchell unseated former Rep. J.D. Hayworth in 2006.

The Mail Tribune reports that former National Endowment for the Arts director John Frohnmayer is challenging Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon H. Smith as an independent. Frohnmayer is running as a member of the newly-formed Independent Party on a platform calling for a health care plan, ending the war in Iraq and having a “voter revolution” against corrupt government. Frohnmayer also wants to impeach President Bush.

---------------------------------

Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NEW YORK CITY: Judge Throws Out Calorie-Posting Rule
CHICAGO: Transit Agency Blasted for Crash
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.: Supervisors Vote Not to Strip Treasurer's Authority
WASHINGTON, D.C., REGION: Convention Center Hotel Project in Jeopardy
FLORIDA: Governor: Postpone Manatee Decision
NEW JERSEY: School Builders Borrow Another $800 Million

---------------------------------

Political Trivia

The son of a judge who also was a Baptist pastor, Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., has a judicious and strait-laced demeanor that was nurtured not only in his home but also all around it. Northern Alabama has long been one of the most religiously conservative areas of the nation. Aderholt is best known for his efforts to bring religious values into the public sphere. His most publicized cause in Washington has been to permit public displays of the Ten Commandments. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

---------------------------------

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, SEPT. 11, 2007 – 2:10 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Skeptical Senators Confront Crocker, Petraeus on Iraq
  • Senate Work on Transportation Spending Bill Slows
  • Senate Panel Approves Defense Spending
  • Senate Panel Chairmen Spar Over Funding for Farm Bill
  • Senate Finance Chairman Promises Prompt Action on Peru Trade Pact
---------------------------------

Today in Washington

The House holds a pro forma session, with no votes expected.

The Senate continues consideration of the fiscal 2008 Transportation-HUD spending bill (HR 3074).

The President attends a prayer service at St. John’s Episcopal Church to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; participates in moment of silence at the White House; meets with bicameral, bipartisan congressional leadership.

In Washington,  the World Affairs Council hosts an event called “China and the Competition for Energy Resources,” with Erica Downes of the Brookings Institution, David Finkelstein of Project Asia and former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles W. Freeman. 6:30-8 p.m., CSIS, 1800 K St., N.W.

---------------------------------

Top Stories

Skeptical Senators Confront Crocker, Petraeus on Iraq

A bipartisan chorus on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressed skepticism Tuesday that Iraqis will mend their sectarian differences sufficiently to allow recent security gains to produce stability.  [Read More]

Senate Work on Transportation Spending Bill Slows

Work on the $104.6 billion fiscal 2008 Transportation-Housing spending bill bogged down Tuesday, as Senate Republicans sought to force a vote on an amendment supporting Gen. David H. Petraeus.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Approves Defense Spending

A Senate panel Tuesday unveiled a fiscal 2008 defense spending bill that shifts funds away from weapons programs towards health care, pay raises, and equipment for troops enduring multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Chairmen Spar Over Funding for Farm Bill

Through a series of tax credits and bonds for farmers, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Tuesday that he will be able to add up to $10 billion to the five-year farm bill now in development in the Agriculture Committee.  [Read More]

Senate Finance Chairman Promises Prompt Action on Peru Trade Pact

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday that lawmakers will “move expeditiously” to pass implementing language for the Bush administration’s trade agreement with Peru.  [Read More]

---------------------------------

Political Clippings

CQPolitics.com reports that Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., already has three Democratic challengers in a February primary election in Illinois’ 3rd District, which includes Chicago’s southwest side and several suburbs. Lipinski, who was first elected three years ago to succeed his father, 11-term Democrat William O. Lipinski, has come under fire from political opponents and liberal activists for his voting record, particularly on social issues. The congressman’s detractors also complain that the elder Lipinski engineered his son’s election in the strongly Democratic-leaning district.

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Republican state Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio has formed an exploratory committee for a possible 2008 challenge to Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J. Also running for the GOP nomination is Monmouth County businesswoman Anne Evans Estabrook. Pennacchio said he would focus on economic growth, lower taxes, an improved climate for small businesses and more ethical government in his campaign.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia Republicans are having trouble fielding credible challenges to Democratic Reps. Jim Marshall and John Barrow, two perennial GOP targets. The main GOP candidate against Marshall, former Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard, has had a rough start, and no one has yet emerged to challenge Barrow. State Rep. Buddy Carter told the daily he was “still giving it consideration,” but as the proprietor of three small pharmacies, will have to weigh family business concerns.

---------------------------------

Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: Plan Outlines Support in Local Disaster Efforts
CHICAGO: Teachers OK Contract
ST. LOUIS: Fire Chief's Boss Resigns Amid Rift
TENNESSEE: Audit: State Diversity Initiative Not Working
MASSACHUSETTS: Pike U-turn Ramp Opening Delayed

---------------------------------

Political Trivia

Once famously dismissed as a “mom in tennis shoes,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairs the Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee and occupies a spot in the Senate Democratic leadership. She has used her trademark tennis shoes to remind voters of her humble roots. She passes out “Golden Tennis Shoe” awards to constituents who, like her, have been community activists. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

---------------------------------

Monday, September 10, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, SEPT. 10, 2007 – 2:17 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Petraeus Tells Lawmakers Surge is Working
  • U.S. Spy Chief Argues for Permanent FISA Surveillance Authority
  • Conflicting Testimony Underscores Challenges of ‘No Child’ Reauthorization
  • Craig’s Legal Team Asks to Have Guilty Plea Set Aside
  • Hagel’s Retirement Further Complicates GOP’s 2008 Senate Outlook
---------------------------------

Today in Washington

The House convenes at 10:30 a.m. to consider various measures under suspension of the rules, with votes starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to consider the fiscal 2008 Transportation-HUD spending bill (HR 1789).

The President participates in the ceremonial swearing-in of former Iowa GOP Rep. Jim Nussle as the new director of the Office of Management and Budget; meets with Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt on the Import Safety Working Group, followed by an off-camera briefing with the secretary and National Economic Council Director Al Hubbard.

In Washington,  Georgetown University holds a panel discussion with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson and former national security adviser Robert McFarlane on a bipartisan approach to the war on terror. 5 p.m., Gaston Hall.

---------------------------------

Top Stories

Petraeus Tells Lawmakers Surge is Working

The surge of troops in Iraq is having its desired effect, Gen. David H. Petraeus told two congressional panels Monday, although Democrats remained deeply skeptical.  [Read More]

U.S. Spy Chief Argues for Permanent FISA Surveillance Authority

The nation’s spy chief Monday urged Congress to make permanent an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, saying a temporary fix had helped thwart a plot to bomb U.S. interests in Germany.  [Read More]

Conflicting Testimony Underscores Challenges of ‘No Child’ Reauthorization

A House panel Monday opened a marathon hearing on the nation’s primary elementary and secondary education law with conflicting testimony that reflected the challenges that leaders face in reauthorizing the controversial law.  [Read More]

Craig’s Legal Team Asks to Have Guilty Plea Set Aside

Sen. Larry E. Craig, R-Idaho, formally asked a Minnesota judge Monday to set aside his guilty plea and reconsider his conviction for disorderly conduct, in an effort to exonerate himself and potentially rescind his vow to resign from the Senate by Sept. 30.  [Read More]

Hagel’s Retirement Further Complicates GOP’s 2008 Senate Outlook

The decision by Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to not seek re-election next year magnifies the defensive position of Senate Republicans in the 2007-08 campaign cycle.  [Read More]

---------------------------------

Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
WASHINGTON, D.C., Region: Transit Agency Weighs Fare Increase
COBB COUNTY, Ga.: County Plans to Arm Code Enforcement Unit
MASSACHUSETTS: Study of Traffic Stops Derailed
NEW YORK STATE: Wage and Tax Law Evaders Targeted
NORTH CAROLINA: Corps Cuts Lake Flows As Drought Worsens

---------------------------------

Political Clippings

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been the target of a barrage of negative ads recently from outside groups. “Americans Against Escalation in Iraq spent more than $100,000 on ads calling on McConnell to change course and move to bring U.S. troops home. And a group favoring public financing of elections ran a spot criticizing McConnell for helping to secure $8.3 million in federal grants for a firm represented by his former chief of staff, Hunter Bates. . . . All this hubbub has vaulted next year’s U.S. Senate race to the forefront of Kentucky’s political scene alongside this fall’s governor’s race — even before any Democrat officially declares his or her intention to challenge McConnell.”

According to the Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel, “Delta County Commissioner Wayne Wolf is preparing to take on fellow Republican Bob Schaffer for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Wolf is planning an announcement tour this week, he said Saturday,” acknowledging his bid is a “huge undertaking.” Wolf, 56, a fifth-generation rancher, “is serving his second term on the Delta County Commission.” Schaffer represented the 4th District in northeast Colorado from 1997 to 2003. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., “is the only announced Democrat seeking the open Senate seat being vacated by Republican Wayne Allard.”

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that while Republicans hold a “huge voter registration advantage” in Nebraska, the retirement decision of GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel “leaves Republicans heading into 2008 without their only winning Senate candidate since Carl Curtis claimed his last term in 1972.” A big group of independent voters can make the upcoming 2008 contest highly competitive. “Former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey was poised to discuss his intentions Monday after Hagel has made it official. On the Republican side, former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub, who’s also a former four-term congressman, said Saturday he’ll have something to say then.” Attorney General Jon Bruning entered the GOP race before Hagel decided to retire, but many Republicans are waiting to see whether Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, a former governor, enters the race as well. “Johanns, who is being wooed as a high-profile Republican challenger, is not going to talk about his future” for a while, his spokeswoman Terri Teuber said.

---------------------------------

This Week in Health Policy on the Hill

Health on the Hill with kaisernetwork.org and CQ are weekly audio updates from CQ reporters highlighting the latest health policy developments on Capitol Hill. A podcast of the report is also available.
SCHIP: With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, differences remain between House and Senate bills to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
CMS: President Bush appoints nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as acting administrator.
PATENT LAW: House passes measure overhauling the nation’s patent laws. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

---------------------------------

Political Trivia

Sen. John A. Barrasso’s first bid for public office came in 1996, when the Wyoming Republican ran for the U.S. Senate. In that race, he finished second in a nine-candidate GOP primary to replace retiring Republican Alan K. Simpson. When he lost, Barrasso signed on as the finance chairman for the primary winner, Republican Michael B. Enzi, who was elected that November. Barrasso and Enzi now make up the first state Senate delegation entirely of Italian descent. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

---------------------------------