Friday, February 01, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, FEB. 1, 2008 – 1:58 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Stimulus Test Will Target Rebates for Seniors
  • Democrats Step Up Call for Extended Benefits After January Job Losses
  • Higher Education Overhaul Headed to House Floor
  • Former Yankee Ballplayer Answers Questions in Drug Probe
  • Political Trivia for Feb. 1
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Today in Washington

The House  is not in session; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.

The Senate  is not in session; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Monday.

The President  tours Hallmark Cards and speaks on the economy in Kansas City, Mo.; attends fundraiser for Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., in Parkville, Mo.; heads to Camp David for the weekend.

In Washington,  the Middle East Institute holds an all-day conference on Iran, concluding with a panel discussion on “Iran: What Does the U.S. Do Now?” with Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Hillary Mann Leverett, former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs; Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker. 4 p.m., Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 1150 22nd St. NW.

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Top Stories

Senate Stimulus Test Will Target Rebates for Seniors

Senate Republicans are confident they can block extensive alterations to the bipartisan House-passed economic stimulus package next week, but that doesn’t mean all changes necessarily will be rejected.  [Read More]

Democrats Step Up Call for Extended Benefits After January Job Losses

A gloomy January employment report Friday prompted renewed calls from congressional Democrats for action to cushion job losses with extended unemployment benefits.  [Read More]

Higher Education Overhaul Headed to House Floor

The House next week is expected to pass a five-year reauthorization and overhaul of the primary law governing federal support for college students and the institutions they attend.  [Read More]

Former Yankee Ballplayer Answers Questions in Drug Probe

Former New York Yankee second baseman Chuck Knoblauch showed up on Capitol Hill Friday, young son clutched in his arms, to talk to congressional investigators looking into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Feb. 1

When did a U.S. House seat last change party hands in Virginia?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Denver Post reports that Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has “significantly outpaced” former GOP Rep. Bob Schaffer in fundraising for their U.S. Senate contest this year. “The bad news for Schaffer is that his fourth-quarter receipts dropped about 16 percent from the previous quarter,” as he raised slightly less than $673,000 in the last three months of 2007. Udall raised slightly more than $1.1 million in the quarter . . . and “now has about $3.6 million in cash, to Schaffer’s $1.5 million.” President Bush attended a fundraiser for Schaffer in Denver yesterday.

According to the Modesto Bee, freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., who ousted former House Resources Chairman Richard W. Pombo in 2006, has stockpiled almost twice as much cash as his GOP opponent in the state’s Republican-leaning 11th District. “McNerney raised $246,000 during the final three months of 2007,” compared with $143,000 raised by his likely Republican opponent, former GOP Assemblyman Dean Andal. “McNerney ended the year with nearly $925,000 cash on-hand while Andal had $471,000.”

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, JAN. 31, 2008 – 2:08 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Seeking Way Forward on Stimulus Package
  • Commission Urges Upgrade of National Guard, Reserve Forces
  • Senators Voice Concern About Afghanistan
  • As Judiciary Awaits Answers, Senate Democrats Delay Votes on Nominee
  • Political Trivia for Jan. 31
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Today in Washington

The House  is not in session; reconvenes at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 6.

The Senate  is in a holding pattern, awaiting a decision on how to proceed to an economic stimulus package offering tax rebates to individuals and business investment incentives.

The President  speaks on the war on terrorism in Las Vegas, Nev.; attends a GOP fundraising luncheon there, and then flies to Colorado to attend a fundraiser for GOP Senate candidate Bob Schaffer.

In Washington,  The Newseum presents a program exploring the role of citizen participation and the impact of the news media on presidential primaries. David Keene, president, American Conservative Union; Jules Witcover, journalist and author; and Frank Bond, producer and moderator. 7 p.m., William McGowan Theater, National Archives, 7th and 9th Sts. N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate Seeking Way Forward on Stimulus Package

Senate Democrats are hoping to set up politically difficult votes on an economic stimulus bill next week, requiring Republicans to choose between a House-passed bipartisan compromise and a more generous version that would send rebate checks to low-income senior citizens and disabled veterans.  [Read More]

Commission Urges Upgrade of National Guard, Reserve Forces

Congress must bring the U.S. military’s reserve forces into the 21st century, mandating steps to correct an “appalling” lack of readiness to respond to a domestic catastrophe, a congressionally chartered commission said in a report released Thursday.  [Read More]

Senators Voice Concern About Afghanistan

Senators expressed growing concern Thursday about the situation in Afghanistan following a host of new reports painting a gloomy picture and fears that NATO may abandon the country.  [Read More]

As Judiciary Awaits Answers, Senate Democrats Delay Votes on Nominee

Senate Democrats plan to delay a floor vote on President Bush’s nominee for the No. 2 post at the Justice Department until the department responds to several Judiciary Committee oversight letters.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Jan. 31

What was John McCain’s vote share in the 2000 Maine presidential primary?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Des Moines Register reports that Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is well fortified for his bid this year for a fifth term. Harkin’s campaign has $3.4 million in the bank, aides said yesterday. That is more than the $2.1 million Harkin had on hand at the beginning of 2002, when he faced a challenge from a sitting Republican congressman whom he went on to defeat with 54 percent of the vote. This time around, the only Republican who has registered to oppose Harkin is Steve Rathje, a Cedar Rapids businessman. As of Sept. 30, Rathje had raised about $49,000 and had $259 cash on hand.

According to the South Bend Tribune, “attorney Tony Zirkle will run for Congress this year — his second attempt at the job.Zirkle, a Republican, ran for the Republican nomination in the 2006 primary but lost to then-U.S. Rep. Chris Chocola, the incumbent.” Chocola was defeated that year by Democrat Joe Donnelly, who now represents Indiana’s 2nd District. “Eliminating pornography and prostitution was a centerpiece of Zirkle’s 2006 campaign . . . perhaps his most memorable suggestion was bringing back the guillotine to punish child sex offenders.” He is likely to face primary competition from Elkhart County businessman Luke Puckett.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
DETROIT: Mayor Apologizes, Rejects Resignation Rumors
FULTON COUNTY, Ga.: Judge Steps Down in Courthouse-Shooting Case
DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa.: Ex-School Board President Gets Jail Sentence
SAN FRANCISCO: Port Chief: Supervisors' President Harassed Officials
THE NATION: Drugmaker May Pay $1 Billion to States, Feds
CALIFORNIA: State Launching Push for 'Green' Chemicals

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, JAN. 30, 2008 – 2:24 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Finance Leaders Will Try to Stave Off Changes to Their Stimulus Plan
  • Mukasey Demurs on Waterboarding, Angers Judiciary Democrats
  • Baucus Presses Administration to Support Trade Adjustment Assistance
  • Virginia GOP Rep. Davis to Retire
  • Senators Seeking Emergency Funding for Law Enforcement Grants
  • Political Trivia for Jan. 30
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Today in Washington

The House  is not in session; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.

The Senate  is in “morning business,” with speeches only.

The President  makes a statement on trade and the economy at the Robinson Helicopter Co., in Torrance, Calif., and later attends a Republican National Committee luncheon in Los Angeles and a RNC dinner in Hillsborough, Calif., both at private residences.

In Washington,  the School of Advanced International Studies holds a discussion, “Rural Development and Democracy in China,” with Hu Bilian, senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 5:15 p.m., Kenney Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Finance Leaders Will Try to Stave Off Changes to Their Stimulus Plan

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee planned to work together Wednesday afternoon to try to beat back amendments offered to their version of an economic stimulus package.  [Read More]

Mukasey Demurs on Waterboarding, Angers Judiciary Democrats

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey flatly refused Wednesday to say whether a controversial interrogation technique amounts to torture.  [Read More]

Baucus Presses Administration to Support Trade Adjustment Assistance

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Wednesday he will not advance pending free trade pacts with Columbia, Panama and South Korea until the administration gets behind an expansion of a program that helps workers who lose their jobs because of foreign competition.  [Read More]

Virginia GOP Rep. Davis to Retire

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-Va., said Wednesday he will retire at the end of his current term to pursue opportunities in the private sector, leaving open a potentially competitive district Democrats will target this year.  [Read More]

Senators Seeking Emergency Funding for Law Enforcement Grants

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday vowed to seek a major funding boost for a local law enforcement grant program that President Bush has long targeted for elimination.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Jan. 30

When did Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith become the first woman to compete for a presidential nomination at a major party convention?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader reports that Democratic leaders, including Gov. Steven L. Beshear, are lining up behind the latest candidate to take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — wealthy Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, “who ran unsuccessfully for the party’s nomination for governor in 2003 and 2007 while spending millions of his own money.” Lunsford, who rounds out a roster of eight Democratic contenders in the primary, has “the blessing and even encouragement of key party officials.”

According to the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., who is facing three Republicans and one Democratic primary opponent, “has raised more money for the 2008 campaign season than all of the other 8th District hopefuls combined, federal reports show.” She has pulled in nearly $2 million over the past year, including about $454,000 received between Oct. 1 and Jan. 16, the period covered by the most recent FEC report. “Coming in a distant second was Republican Steve Greenberg,” with about $169,000 during the reporting period and about $350,000 during the full cycle, which started Jan. 1, 2007.

The Bridgewater (N.J.) Courier-News reports that “two-term Township Councilman Michael Hsing has joined the growing list of candidates for the Republican nomination for the House” in New Jersey’s 7th District, where incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Ferguson is retiring. Hsing is director of information technology compliance at CIBER Inc. The Democratic candidate is expected to be Assemblywoman Linda Stender, who nearly beat Ferguson in the traditionally Republican district in 2006.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
DETROIT: Mayor to Apologize, Stay in Office
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.: County to Sue to Overturn Pension Deal
ATLANTA: Troubled Hospital's Board Fires Another CEO
CALIFORNIA: State Seeks $1.3 Billion from Health Insurer
ILLINOIS: Feds Backing Out of Clean-Coal Project
WASHINGTON STATE: Exporting of Inmates to End

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, JAN. 29, 2008 – 1:54 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Stimulus Package Headed for Speedy House Passage
  • House Republicans Seek 14-Day Extension of Surveillance Law
  • House Energy Panel OKs Subpoenas in FDA Probe
  • Republicans To Fill Vacant House Appropriations Seat Next Month
  • Rep. Hulshof Joins List of GOP Retirees
  • Political Trivia for Jan. 29
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Today in Washington

The House  is set to consider the economic stimulus package (HR 5140) and an electronic surveillance extension (HR 5104).

The Senate  resumes consideration of a long-term electronic surveillance bill (S 2248).

The President  visits the Jericho Program in Baltimore, Md.; signs an executive order on earmarks; meets with the Joint Chiefs and combat commanders.

In Washington,  Millennium Challenge Corporation Chairman John Danilovich delivers a lecture as part of the African Society of the Natimonal Summit on Africa program. 6:30 p.m., Embassy of Ghana, 3512 International Dr., N.W.

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Top Stories

Stimulus Package Headed for Speedy House Passage

The House was expected to vote overwhelmingly Tuesday to pump $145.9 billion into the ailing economy through tax breaks for individuals and businesses, even as senators prepare a broader, more costly version of the bill.  [Read More]

House Republicans Seek 14-Day Extension of Surveillance Law

House Republicans pushed Tuesday for a two-week extension of a temporary law granting broad federal wiretapping authority that is set to expire Feb. 1.  [Read More]

House Energy Panel OKs Subpoenas in FDA Probe

A House panel voted Tuesday to authorize subpoenas for witnesses and documents related to its probe of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Ketek, a drug linked to liver failures.  [Read More]

Republicans To Fill Vacant House Appropriations Seat Next Month

House Republicans will fill their vacant seat on the Appropriations Committee the week of Feb. 11, Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Tuesday.  [Read More]

Rep. Hulshof Joins List of GOP Retirees

Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., has announced plans to retire from Congress at the end of his term in order to seek the GOP nomination to succeed Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Jan. 29

How old was Barack Obama when Massachusetts’ Edward M. Kennedy began serving in the Senate?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

Television station WSYR in Syracuse, N.Y., reported that former congressional aide Dan Maffei launched his second bid for the now-open 25th District House seat Monday on an upbeat note. The man who narrowly beat him, Rep. James T. Walsh, R-N.Y., is retiring after 10 terms. And Maffei is well-financed, with more than $500,000 cash on hand, and can claim broad support. But there’s a dark cloud looming in the person of Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, who said he would decide by mid-February whether to jump into the race and force Maffei to compete for the Democratic nomination.

The Oregonian reports that Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley plans to continue raising campaign funds during the February legislative session, even though a House rule bars fundraising when lawmakers are meeting. Merkley said legislative counsel told him the ban does not apply to federal candidates, but he will voluntarily refuse to accept money from any Oregon lobbyist or political action committee. “In a highly contested Senate race like this, we can’t unilaterally disarm in the month of February,” Merkley spokesman Russ Kelley said. Merkley is challenging Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, JAN. 28, 2008 – 2:11 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush To Target Earmarks in State of the Union
  • Pentagon Confirms Partial War Funding Request for Fiscal 2009
  • Kennedy Endorses Obama for President
  • New Dem Challenger in West Virginia Race
  • Political Trivia for Jan. 28
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Today in Washington

The House  takes up a 30-day extension of electronic surveillance legislation set to expire Feb. 1.

The Senate  continues work on an overhaul of electronic surveillance legislation.

The President  delivers his final State of the Union address at 9 p.m.

In Washington,  Reps. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn. and Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., will present a public service award from the Society on Social Implications of Technology to Michael DeKort, a former Lockheed Martin lead engineer who called attention to problems within the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program. 2:30 p.m., Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2253

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Top Stories

Bush To Target Earmarks in State of the Union

In a move likely to anger Democrats and disappoint fiscal conservatives, President Bush planned to issue an executive order Tuesday directing agencies to ignore future earmarks — but not ones in fiscal 2008 bills —- included in report language rather than legislative text.  [Read More]

Pentagon Confirms Partial War Funding Request for Fiscal 2009

The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the Bush administration’s fiscal 2009 budget request would only include $70 billion in emergency funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  [Read More]

Kennedy Endorses Obama for President

The liberal lion of the Democratic Party roared Monday for Barack Obama, giving the freshman Illinois senator a major boost in his campaign for the party’s presidential nomination.  [Read More]

New Dem Challenger in West Virginia Race

West Virginia Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito will face a credible Democratic opponent in the state’s 2nd District this November — just not the Democrat she expected.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Jan. 28

How many states held Republican primaries before Florida in 2000?  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NORTHERN VIRGINIA: Airport Rail Plan Draws Investors' Interest
MACOMB COUNTY, Mich.: Pension Losses May Bring 'Draconian Measures'
COOK COUNTY, Ill.: Three Charged with Theft of $2 Million
HOUSTON: Five-Term Mayor Louie Welch Dies
NEW YORK CITY: Federal Judge Backs Out-of-State Gun Stings
ALASKA: Federal Plan Opens 3.4 Million Acres to Logging, Roads
THE NATION: Rising Costs Threaten Infrastructure Projects
ARIZONA: Governor Rejects Abstinence-Only Funding

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Political Clippings

The Sacramento Bee reports that Bill Durston, an emergency room doctor with virtually no political experience, announced that he will mount a second challenge to Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., as a Democrat. Durston acknowledged that he faces an uphill battle in trying to unseat Lungren, who beat Durston 59 percent to 38 percent in 2006 in the Republican-leaning district. As of Sept. 30, Lungren had more than $500,000 on hand to Durston’s $29,000, according to campaign finance reports.

The Courier News reported that local committeeman and former Warren, N.J., mayor Victor Sordillo, an insurance industry veteran, has entered the crowded field of Republican candidates seeking the House seat being vacated by Rep. Mike Ferguson, R-N.J. State Assemblywoman Linda Stender is expected to be the Democratic nominee.

The Des Moines Register reports that Republicans appear to be taking a pass at challenging Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, D-Iowa, this year. Observers say it’s a sign of how low the GOP has sunk even since election losses in 2006 — Boswell had faced stiff competition in each of his past three re-election bids. “We’ll be lucky with anything we get this year,” said Steve Roberts, a Republican National Committee member from Des Moines. “I don’t think there are a lot of people with high expectations this year. It’s a long road back for us this time.”

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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.
SCHIP: House fails in second override attempt of SCHIP veto.
MEDICARE: Governors push for more Medicaid funding as part of stimulus package.
ENTITLEMENTS: Senators seek entitlements task force. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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