Friday, December 14, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, DEC. 14, 2007 – 2:13 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Clears Defense Authorization Bill
  • Senate Passes Bill to Boost FHA Mortgage Loans
  • Bush Signs Latest Stopgap Bill, Urges Congress to Finish Spending Package
  • Bush Signs Bill Raising Pilot Retirement Age to 65
  • Court Delays Rep. Jefferson’s Trial Until Late February
  • Political Trivia for Dec. 14
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Today in Washington

The House  reconvenes at noon Monday for legislative business, with no roll call votes before 6:30 p.m.

The Senate  passes legislation to modernize the mortgage insurance program of the Federal Housing Administration; clears for the president’s signature the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill, and expects to pass a five-year farm policy bill.

The President  signs a bill raising the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65; meets with Peruvian President Alan Garcia Perez, and signs implementing legislation for the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement; attends a holiday reception for the diplomatic corps at the State Department.

In Washington,  the AIDS Institute holds a daylong Women’s HIV and Health Policy Forum. with closing remarks by Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of AIDS victim Ryan White, at 3:45 p.m. Room 2168, Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill.

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Top Stories

Senate Clears Defense Authorization Bill

The Senate on Friday cleared the fiscal 2008 Defense authorization bill, paving the way for a 3.5 percent pay raise for U.S. troops along with major improvements in their medical care and other benefits.  [Read More]

Senate Passes Bill to Boost FHA Mortgage Loans

The Senate on Friday passed legislation designed to modernize the Federal Housing Administration’s mortgage insurance program to give home buyers a safe, low-cost alternative to subprime loans.  [Read More]

Bush Signs Latest Stopgap Bill, Urges Congress to Finish Spending Package

As congressional appropriators scramble to complete an omnibus year-end spending package, President Bush on Friday signed the third stopgap funding measure for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.  [Read More]

Bush Signs Bill Raising Pilot Retirement Age to 65

The graying of America is about to reach the cockpit of the nation’s airlines, under legislation signed into law Friday by President Bush.  [Read More]

Court Delays Rep. Jefferson’s Trial Until Late February

A federal judge reluctantly agreed on Friday to delay next month’s scheduled corruption trial Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., by about six weeks.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Dec. 14

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., entered public life by fighting what project?  [Read More]

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TheCapitol.Net: Update on the 110th Congress, 2008, 2nd Session

Our expert faculty look at the second session of the 110th Congress in terms of leadership, membership, the 2008 elections, and the anticipated legislative agenda. They will also review and analyze the major legislative initiatives and accomplishments of the first session of the 110th Congress
WHERE: Location in Washington, D.C. will be announced before course.
WHEN: January 29, 2008, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Registration Fee: $395
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.

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Political Clippings

The Jackson Clarion Ledger reports that former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore said Thursday he would not seek to replace Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., in next year’s special Senate election. Moore was one of the top potential Democratic contenders for the seat; the GOP nominee is likely to be whoever Gov. Haley Barbour nominates to replace Lott, who has said he would resign by the end of the year. “I am happy doing what I am doing, my family is happy, and I look forward to making a big difference in my state and nation,” Moore said in a statement. “I have seriously considered the U.S. Senate vacancy as my friends urged me to do, but I have always known that what I am doing now is good enough for me.”

Houston television station KHOU reports that power struggles among Republicans in Texas’ Fort Bend County are threatening the GOP’s chances of retaking the House seat once held by former Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Nine Republicans are seeking the seat and a 10th is considering a run against Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas. Meanwhile, key GOP leadership posts are vacant and the last two local party chairmen have resigned. “They’ve lost focus of who they are and what their responsibility is,” DeLay told the station. “I’m concerned — very concerned.”

The Peoria Journal Star reports that Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., said he won’t take sides in the race to replace him next year. LaHood, who is retiring at the end of his current term, noted that his son, Darin LaHood, is running as a Republican for Peoria County state’s attorney against incumbent Democrat Kevin Lyons. “I don’t want to do anything to hurt Darin’s chances for state’s attorney and make people mad,” the elder LaHood said. LaHood wrote all three candidates on Nov. 5 asking them to seek his permission before using his name or image.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SAN DIEGO/TIJUANA: Border Patrol-Smuggler Clashes Escalate
THE WASHINGTON D.C. REGION: Fare Hikes Target Rush-Hour Riders
PHILADELPHIA: Council Pushes Unions on Minority Hiring
PENNSYLVANIA: Feds Deal Setback to I-80 Tolling Plan
ILLINOIS: Governor's Fund-Raiser Indicted for Tax Fraud

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, DEC. 13, 2007 – 2:08 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Moving to Pass Energy Bill Without Tax Provisions
  • House Set To Consider Year-End Spending Package Dec. 18
  • Pelosi Says She Miscalculated GOP Determination on Iraq
  • Bid to Tighten Farm Payment Caps Falls Short in Senate
  • House Advances Intelligence Bill With Ban on Harsh Interrogation Methods
  • Political Trivia for Dec. 13
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Today in Washington

The House  considers stopgap measure to keep the government funded through Dec. 21 and adopts the conference report on an intelligence authorization bill.

The Senate  continues work on amendments to the farm bill and lays groundwork for passage of a revised energy policy bill.

The President  meets with Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua at the Oval Office.

In Washington,  the Leon Sullivan Foundation, others, hold a dinner and conversation on Africa, with actors Forest Whitaker and Chris Tucker, Boyz II Men, others. 7 p.m., Washington Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate Moving to Pass Energy Bill Without Tax Provisions

Bowing to a White House veto threat, the Senate agreed Thursday to move forward with a major energy bill that omits two sections President Bush refused to accept.  [Read More]

House Set To Consider Year-End Spending Package Dec. 18

The House appears on track to consider a year-end omnibus spending bill Dec. 18, one week after Democratic leaders had planned to bring up a costlier version that was ditched after a White House veto threat.  [Read More]

Pelosi Says She Miscalculated GOP Determination on Iraq

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., admitted Thursday that she had underestimated the willingness of Republicans to stand behind President Bush’s Iraq policy despite the drubbing the GOP took in the polls in 2006.  [Read More]

Bid to Tighten Farm Payment Caps Falls Short in Senate

The Senate on Thursday narrowly rejected a bid to tighten limits on federal payments to farmers, putting the five-year farm policy bill on a path toward passage.  [Read More]

House Advances Intelligence Bill With Ban on Harsh Interrogation Methods

The House on Thursday adopted a conference report for the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill that would block the CIA from using several controversial interrogation techniques.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Dec. 13

When did a House seat last change party hands in a special election?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Ohio state Rep. Tom Brinkman has entered the Republican primary race in the state’s 2nd House District. Brinkman, a conservative anti-tax crusader who often has clashed with the GOP leadership, filed his candidacy Wednesday. He faces Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, and former Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich in the Republican primary. Three Democrats also are running: lawyer Steve Black, civil engineer Jeff Sinnard and Victoria Wulsin, who came close to beating Schmidt in 2006.

The Savannah Morning News reports that orthopedic surgeon and Iraq war veteran Wayne Mosley said he will not challenge Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., next year. Mosley, who also served in Afghanistan, was considered a strong candidate for Republicans to unseat Barrow, who beat former Rep. Max Burns by only 900 votes in 2006. Mechanical engineer Ray McKinney of Savannah and former congressional aide John Stone are already seeking the GOP nomination.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
CHICAGO: State Agency May Buy Cubs' Ballpark
PHILADELPHIA: Veteran Administrator Named to Top City Post
THE WASHINGTON, D.C., REGION: Regional Panel Pushes Green Development
CALIFORNIA: Court Backs State Against Automakers
IDAHO: Governor: Don't Divest Pension Sudan Investments

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, DEC. 12, 2007 – 2:11 P.M.

In This Issue

  • New Stopgap Bill Looms as Search Continues for Omnibus Spending Deal
  • Temporary Extension Needed as Senate Farm Bill Debate Drags On
  • Compromise Tax Package Boosts Hopes for Energy Bill
  • House Set To Escalate Tax Fight With Senate
  • Intelligence Panel Casts Wide Net in Tapes Probe
  • Political Trivia for Dec. 12
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Today in Washington

The House  considers bills covering the alternative minimum tax and terrorism risk insurance, along with a conference report for the defense authorization bill.

The Senate  continues work on amendments to the farm bill.

The President  signs Head Start reauthorization bill; participates in a White House photo op with recipients of the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor.

In Washington,  an exhibition of more than 145 paintings and water colors of J M.W. Turner (1775–1851), the leading British artist of his era, continues at the National Gallery of Art, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Jan. 6., 4th and Constitution Avenue, N.W.

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Top Stories

New Stopgap Bill Looms as Search Continues for Omnibus Spending Deal

Democratic leaders were still working Wednesday to assemble a year-end omnibus appropriations package that can pass both chambers.  [Read More]

Temporary Extension Needed as Senate Farm Bill Debate Drags On

Congress will have to pass a three-month extension of the current farm law because the Senate is still slogging through a new five-year replacement, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson said Wednesday.  [Read More]

Compromise Tax Package Boosts Hopes for Energy Bill

Senate leaders Wednesday unveiled a reworked $22 billion tax package as part of a comprehensive energy bill that they say will pass this week.  [Read More]

House Set To Escalate Tax Fight With Senate

As the House set up a showdown with the Senate over tax policy, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., vowed Wednesday to do “everything in my power” to prevent a one-year “patch” to the alternative minimum tax from becoming law without offsets.  [Read More]

Intelligence Panel Casts Wide Net in Tapes Probe

Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday they plan to call two former Central Intelligence Agency directors as they began what is expected to be a months-long probe of the destruction of secret interrogation videotapes.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Dec. 12

How many current House and Senate members were preceded in Congress by a parent?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado reports that Delta County Commissioner Wayne Wolf is considering a challenge to Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo. Wolf, 56, is a rancher who calls himself a “Ronald Reagan Republican.” The daily said his “criticism of Salazar is pretty measured and careful. For example, he disagrees with Salazar’s opposition to allowing more oil and gas leases on top of the Roan Plateau. He said Salazar is listening too much to objections from some environmental groups.” Libertarian Steve McDuffie is also seeking the seat.

The Oregonian reports that Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Merkley won an early endorsement Tuesday from the Oregon AFL-CIO. President Tom Chamberlain said the labor group decided to weigh in early to help carry Merkley through the Democratic primary and boost his chances against Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore. “For us to be as effective as we can be, we need to be united, start early and build toward November,” Chamberlain said. The campaign manager for Merkley’s primary opponent, Steve Novick, claimed the endorsement was “driven by D.C.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
INDIANA: Panel: Slash Counties' Officials, Government Units
NEW YORK CITY: City Mandates Mileage Standards for Cabs
FLORIDA: Governor: No Bailout for Investment Pool
MAINE: Foundation Gives All Newborns $500 for College
CALIFORNIA: Study Links Climate Change to Dwindling Snowpack

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, DEC. 11, 2007 – 2:01 P.M.

In This Issue

  • GOP Leaders Assail Democrats on Lack of Appropriations Progress
  • Senate Farm Bill May Carry Renewable Fuels Provision
  • White House Threatens Veto of Latest Terrorism Insurance Proposal
  • Talks Continue on Medicare Payment Fix With Vehicle Uncertain
  • House Votes to Apply U.S. Immigration Laws to Northern Marianas
  • Political Trivia for Dec. 11
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Today in Washington

The House  convenes at noon to consider more than two dozen non-controversial measures and possibly an omnibus fiscal 2008 appropriations bill that combines 11 of the 12 regular spending bills into a single package.

The Senate  convenes at 10 a.m. and continues work on amendments to the farm bill.

The President  participates in a meeting on teen drug statistics and makes a statement on the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s report; meets with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the White House.

In Washington,  Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., are honored by the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign for their support of the U.S. international affairs budget. 6:30 p.m., Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

GOP Leaders Assail Democrats on Lack of Appropriations Progress

House Republican leaders Tuesday criticized Democrats for failing to push forward an omnibus spending package, as the timetable for floor consideration of the catch-all fiscal 2008 bill appeared all but certain to slip.  [Read More]

Senate Farm Bill May Carry Renewable Fuels Provision

The Senate on Tuesday was expected to spend much of the day debating an amendment to the 2007 farm bill that would make deep cuts to federal supports and expand crop insurance.  [Read More]

White House Threatens Veto of Latest Terrorism Insurance Proposal

The White House threatened Tuesday to veto the latest House version of legislation to extend the nation’s terrorism insurance backstop for seven years.  [Read More]

Talks Continue on Medicare Payment Fix With Vehicle Uncertain

An end-of-the-year Medicare package will likely hitch a ride on one of two final pieces of moving legislation, senior members of the Senate Finance Committee predicted Tuesday.  [Read More]

House Votes to Apply U.S. Immigration Laws to Northern Marianas

The House on Tuesday passed legislation to apply federal immigration laws to the Northern Mariana Islands and give the commonwealth a non-voting delegate in Congress.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Dec. 11

How often did North Carolina’s 11th District change parties in the 1980s?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that on his last day in office before Democrat Steve Beshear was sworn in, outgoing Kentucky GOP Gov. Ernie Fletcher “issued 83 pardons yesterday — far more than any Kentucky governor in recent history — and reduced the prison sentences of three felons through commutations. One of the pardons went to Morgan County Judge-Executive Timothy Conley, like Fletcher a Republican. . . . Conley has not been convicted of a crime but is being investigated for alleged improper conduct.” Another of the commutations cut a 20-year sentence to eight years for “the son of a state representative. “ Fletcher pardoned far more people than any other governor in the past 30 years. “Since Gov. Wendell Ford left office in 1974, the most issued was 24, by Gov. Wallace Wilkinson.”

The Elgin Courier reports that three Republicans and two Democrats filed Monday for the Feb. 5 special election primary to succeed former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who resigned Nov. 26. “Republicans Jim Oberweis of Aurora, Mayor Kevin Burns of Geneva and State Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora filed their petitions with the State Board of Elections, as did Democrats John Laesch of Yorkville and Bill Foster of Geneva.” The winners of the primary contests will compete in a March 8 special election to fill out the remaining months of Hastert’s term. “Likely the same slate of candidates also will face off in the Feb. 5 general primary for the Nov. 4 general election, which will determine who succeeds Hastert when his term ends,” the paper added.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
HOUSTON: Hundreds of Billboards Coming Down
THE BOSTON REGION: Contract Extended for Troubled Commuter Rail
CALIFORNIA: Audit Slams Spending by Worker's Comp Agency
NEW JERSEY: State Moves to Mandate Preschooler Flu Shots
CALIFORNIA: Hospitals Get Delay for Seismic Upgrades

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Monday, December 10, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, DEC. 10, 2007 – 2:18 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Democrats Move Ahead With New Spending Package
  • High Court Upholds Judicial Discretion in Sentencing
  • Justices Refuse to Hear Budget Law Challenge
  • Herger Seeks Top GOP Ways and Means Slot
  • Political Trivia for Dec. 10
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Today in Washington

The House  convenes at 3 p.m. in pro forma session; reconvenes for legislative business at noon Tuesday.

The Senate  convenes at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of amendments to a five-year farm policy bill.

The President  meets with Jewish leaders and makes remarks at a Hanukkah reception at the White House.

In Washington,  Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr will deliver remarks at the 11th Annual Farm Journal Forum. 4 p.m., Renaissance Hotel, Grand Ballroom North, 1127 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

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Top Stories

Democrats Move Ahead With New Spending Package

Democrats were putting the final touches on a year-end spending package Monday as they continued to search for a way to attract enough GOP support to bring President Bush to the negotiating table on the annual spending bills.  [Read More]

High Court Upholds Judicial Discretion in Sentencing

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal judges have discretion to fashion more lenient sentences for crack cocaine defendants than those recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines.  [Read More]

Justices Refuse to Hear Budget Law Challenge

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a case challenging the constitutionality of a 2006 budget savings law.  [Read More]

Herger Seeks Top GOP Ways and Means Slot

Wally Herger, R-Calif., wasted little time Monday jumping into the race to replace retiring Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery as the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Dec. 10

Who was the last elected Republican senator from New Mexico before Pete V. Domenici?  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
CHICAGO: City to Pay $19.8 Million in Police Torture Case
THE BOSTON REGION: Region's Commuter Rail Thriftiest, Least Reliable
NEW YORK CITY: Waterfront Commission at Center of Probe
THE WEST: Colorado River Drought Plan Could Bring Rationing
RHODE ISLAND: High Court Rules Against Same-Sex Divorce
KANSAS: AG's Affair Triggers Interference Accusation
CALIFORNIA: Strict Clean-Air Rules Enacted for Ports
ALASKA: State Sues Firm over Pension Shortfall
FLORIDA: State Worker Charged with Stealing $1.5 Million

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Political Clippings

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that former GOP Rep. Charles Taylor finally said Saturday he would not try to regain the House seat he held for 16 years until losing it to Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., in 2006. “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” he said. “I’ve got my own agenda now. I’ve got lots of business I have to look after. I may take a look at it the future.” Taylor’s indecision about running had frustrated Republican leaders. Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower, former Henderson County GOP Chair Spence Campbell and attorney John Armor are all seeking the GOP nomination for the seat.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that Bexar County (Texas) Commissioner Lyle Larson plans to wait until Jan. 2, the last day for candidates to get on primary ballots, to say publicly whether he will seek the GOP nomination for the 23rd District House seat, setting up a potential primary race that concerns his supporters. Attorney and banker Francisco “Quico” Canseco, is already seeking the nomination and has been actively campaigning since January, “putting in numerous public appearances, lining up endorsements, fundraising and pumping lots of his own money into the effort.” The winner of the GOP primary likely will face Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-Texas.

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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.
MEDICARE: Senate Finance chairman negotiates Medicare package with House.
SCHIP: Extension, rather than expansion, likely for children's health program.
LABOR-HHS: Fiscal 2008 spending bill to be part of larger omnibus spending package. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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