Friday, February 29, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, FEB. 29, 2008 – 2:21 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Baghdad Embassy Still Riddled With Problems, Waxman Says
  • GAO Investigators To Check on Offshore Tax Haven
  • Congress Keeps Sacagewa Coins Rolling for Collectors
  • Farm Bill Deal Elusive as Tax Issue Stalls Talks
  • Political Trivia for Feb. 29
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate  is debating legislation designed to aid homeowners facing foreclosure.

The President  meets with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

In Washington,  American University hosts a prescreening of “Virtual JFK: Vietnam, if Kennedy Had Lived,” followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers. 5:15 p.m., Ward Circle Building, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

Baghdad Embassy Still Riddled With Problems, Waxman Says

The U.S. Embassy complex under construction in Baghdad remains plagued by faulty fire systems and “major deficiencies in the infrastructure,” according to information released by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif.  [Read More]

GAO Investigators To Check on Offshore Tax Haven

As congressional Democrats prepare to start writing a budget resolution for the next fiscal year, leaders of the Senate Finance Committee are hoping that government investigators can help them zero in on tax cheats.  [Read More]

Congress Keeps Sacagewa Coins Rolling for Collectors

Coin collectors can rest easy. President Bush on Friday signed into law a bill that will continue the minting of $1 Sacagawea coins in 2008, but only for numismatic purposes. No more will be produced for general circulation until next year.  [Read More]

Farm Bill Deal Elusive as Tax Issue Stalls Talks

Chances are slim that congressional tax panels can come up with a revenue plan for a new five-year farm bill on Friday, according to aides.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Feb. 29

In what year did Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich first serve in public office?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Manchester Union Leader reports that Sen. John E. Sununu, R-N.H., has the fundraising edge this year in a rematch against former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. But Shaheen, who has a strong base she established as governor for six years, is holding a substantial lead in the polls. Sununu had $3.42 million in his campaign war chest at the end of 2007, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, compared with $1.13 million for Shaheen. “But with polls showing Sununu trailing, Shaheen could pull ahead in donations,” the paper said. “The Granite State poll released Feb. 11 shows Shaheen leading Sununu 54 to 37 percent, figures that are unchanged since a poll in July.” Sununu’s chief of staff, Paul Collins, expects the numbers to close. “It was a fairly close race last time, and I suspect it will be similar this time,” he said.

The Arizona Republic reports that “Susan Bitter Smith, a former Scottsdale City councilwoman and executive director of a telecommunications company, has launched an exploratory committee as a potential candidate for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.” At least five other Republicans are already in the field for the Sept. 2 primary in a district that includes Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Tempe and parts of Phoenix, Mesa and Chandler. All are hoping for a chance to take on freshman Rep. Harry E. Mitchell in November.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that “Democrats on Thursday launched a pre-emptive strike against Sioux Falls businessman Steve Kirby, who is considering a run against Sen. Tim Johnson,” D-S.D. Democrats “aren’t waiting to see if the Kirby-for-Senate balloon takes flight before opening fire” on the former lieutenant governor, the paper said, noting that “national Democrats launched a Web site depicting Kirby as a would-be, third-rate candidate for a desperate Republican Party. ‘Steve Kirby: Somewhere between #9 and the bottom of the barrel,’ reads the Web site.” Kirby called the Web site “a Washington, D.C., hatchet job,” the paper said. ‘“I don’t think Tim Johnson wants these types of personal attacks, and I know I don’t,” Kirby said.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
ARIZONA: Employer-Sanctions Law Gets Go-Ahead
CALIFORNIA: State Sues Feds over Plan to Open Forests
VALLEJO, CALIF.: Union Deal Averts City Bankruptcy
DETROIT: Council Committee: Mayor Should Resign
SEATTLE: Police Shakeup Targets Officer Accountability

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, FEB. 28, 2008 – 2:18 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Farm Bill Deal Remains Elusive as Funding Issues Stall Progress
  • Pelosi Says Modified Ethics Proposal Will Return to House Floor
  • House Could Take Up Surveillance Legislation Next Week
  • House Panel Threatens Contempt Action If No Deal on FDA Documents
  • Political Trivia for Feb. 28
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Today in Washington

The House considers minor bills under suspension of the rules.

The Senate  debates a motion to consider a bill addressing U.S. strategy in combating al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The President  holds a news conference and meets with his economic team.

In Washington,  the National Press Foundation holds its 25th anniversary awards dinner, 6:30 p.m., Washington Hilton & Towers, 1919 Connecticut Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

Farm Bill Deal Remains Elusive as Funding Issues Stall Progress

Despite regular meetings between key congressional negotiators and the administration, there is little sign that a deal is near on a new five-year farm bill.  [Read More]

Pelosi Says Modified Ethics Proposal Will Return to House Floor

Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted Thursday that the House will soon pass “tweaked’’ legislation creating an independent House ethics board, although objections from members of both parties forced Democratic leaders to yank it off the agenda Wednesday.  [Read More]

House Could Take Up Surveillance Legislation Next Week

House Democrats are planning floor action next week on a new version of contentious electronic surveillance legislation, but it remains unclear what the bill will contain.  [Read More]

House Panel Threatens Contempt Action If No Deal on FDA Documents

Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee threatened to hold a Bush Cabinet secretary in contempt for the administration’s refusal to hand over documents related to the approval of the antibiotic Ketek, but offered a compromise Thursday to avoid such a move.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Feb. 28

In what year were presidential primaries held on Feb. 29?  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
PENNSYLVANIA: Bond-Market Turmoil Suspends Student Loans
INDIANA: Study: Switch to DST Costing Millions
CONNECTICUTT: AG Sues Contractors over Prison Construction
LOS ANGELES REGION: Court Rejects Emissions Limits for Ships
NEW YORK CITY: City to Mandate Hybrid Standards for 10,000 Limos
HOUSTON: $805 Million School Bond Gets Green Light
WASHINGTON D.C.: Audit Slams Health-Care Eligibility Controls

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Political Clippings

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright returned Tuesday to his roots in southeastern Alabama to announce his candidacy for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala. Bright, who was born and grew up in Ozark, is the first Democrat to run for the seat. Several Republicans are running, including state Reps. Jay Love and David Grimes, state Sen. Harri Anne Smith, Montgomery television station executive David Woods and Dothan residents Craig Schmidtke and John W. Martin.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Democratic Senate candidate Rick Noriega released his National Guard service records and criticized Republicans for seeking them. He said he made the records public because he believes the Republican Party wants to use them against him. Noriega is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Texas GOP spokesman Hans Klingler has said the records are “fair game” because Noriega has made his military service a centerpiece of his campaign.

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CQ Politics Election Guide

For complete election coverage in every district, every state, every day, visit CQ Politics.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27, 2008 – 2:11 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Fed Chief Pushes FHA Overhaul to Ease Recession Risk
  • House Oversight Leaders Want Probe of Clemens Testimony on Steroids
  • Compromise Global AIDS Bill Sails Through House Committee
  • Byrd Hospitalized After Fall at His Home
  • Iraq Debate Continues, Blocking Housing Bill in Senate
  • Political Trivia for Feb. 27
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Today in Washington

The House takes up a bill extending and expanding tax incentives for renewable energy and conservation.

The Senate  resumes consideration of a bill to bar funding for combat deployments in Iraq after four months.

The President  met with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek; makes remarks to members of the Boston Red Sox, 2007 World Series Champions.

In Washington,  House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., speaks on “International Trade Policy” at a Black History Month celebration hosted by the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. 7 p.m., Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, 1740 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

Fed Chief Pushes FHA Overhaul to Ease Recession Risk

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Wednesday that the central bank remains concerned about slowing economic growth, and he again called on lawmakers to clear housing legislation that could help struggling borrowers.  [Read More]

House Oversight Leaders Want Probe of Clemens Testimony on Steroids

The leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday formally asked the Justice Department to investigate whether baseball star Roger Clemens lied to the panel when he denied under oath ever having used steroids or human growth hormone.  [Read More]

Compromise Global AIDS Bill Sails Through House Committee

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday swiftly approved a bill to reauthorize President Bush’s global AIDS program after members of both parties hammered out a compromise late Tuesday.  [Read More]

Byrd Hospitalized After Fall at His Home

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that Sen. Robert C. Byrd was doing well after the Appropriations Committee chairman and president pro tempore of the Senate was hospitalized.  [Read More]

Iraq Debate Continues, Blocking Housing Bill in Senate

Debate on a measure intended to speed the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq dragged on Wednesday, with Republicans seizing on the opportunity to delay consideration of a housing bill Democrats want to call up.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Feb. 27

How many U.S. House seats did Texas have when it entered the Union?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Aurora Beacon reports that a pair of wealthy businessmen competing for the seat of former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., have kicked in a total of $3.5 million of their own money leading up to the March 8 special election in the 14th District. Between Jan. 17 and Feb. 17, Democrat Bill Foster spent nearly $1.2 million, while Republican Jim Oberweis laid out about $686,000 in the same period, the paper reported. Between Jan. 17 and Feb. 17, Foster spent about $837,000 on commercials alone, while his opponent in the 14th Congressional District race, Republican Jim Oberweis, used about $686,000 to run his campaign. The two have raised nearly $5 million, the bulk from their own pockets, and spent a combined total of almost $4.4 million in the race.

According to the Towanda Daily and Review, optometrist Davis Haire, a conservative Republican, “is voluntarily ending his campaign for Congress effective today,” leaving two other GOP contenders vying to take on Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa., in the 10th District. According to his press release, Haire cited fundraising problems from his late entry into the race as the major reason for his decision. He did not endorse either of the remaining GOP candidates, Chris Hackett and Dan Meuser.

The Havre Daily News reports that Republican state Rep. Michael Lange will compete against Billings engineer Kirk Bushman for the GOP nod to take on Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., in November. ‘“I am the No. 1 in experience because I understand the issues at the state level and, on the national level, how they affect Montana,” Lange said.” Lange lost his position as state House majority leader after a profanity-laced tirade last year against Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer that “was televised extensively and eventually ended up shown on YouTube.com.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SOUTH FLORIDA: Blackout Trigger Still a Mystery
MASSACHUSETTS: Judges Praise Courts' Management Reforms
ILLINOIS: Prosecutor: Fundraiser Got High-Level Access
CALIFORNIA: Volunteerism Chief Gets Cabinet Rank
THE GREAT LAKES REGION: Aid Sought from U.S., Canada for Lakes
ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF.: Police to Get Civilian Oversight
MINNEAPOLIS: Fire Chief Leaving to Head Baltimore Department
NEW ORLEANS REGION: Audit: Flood Projects Jumped Gun on Managementy

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, FEB. 26, 2008 – 2:15 P.M.

In This Issue

  • GOP Senator to Seek Earmark Moratorium in Budget Resolution
  • EPA Chief Overruled Staff on California Greenhouse Gas Rules
  • House GOP Fails in Bid to Bring Up Senate Surveillance Bill
  • Governors Urge Lawmakers To Avoid Adding To Fiscal Woes
  • Senate Passes Indian Health Reauthorization
  • Political Trivia for Feb. 26
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Today in Washington

The House  considers a public housing management bill.

The Senate  passed an overhaul of Indian health care and takes procedural votes on separate measures to cut off funds for Iraq operations, require reports on U.S. strategy against al Qaeda and address the surge of home foreclosures.

The President  addressed the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation; meets with former Cabinet secretaries and senior government officials on free-trade agreements; speaks about the Picturing America Initiative.

In Washington,  The Economic Policy Institute holds a discussion on the situation of workers in Israel, 4 p.m., East Tower, 1333 H St. N.W.

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Top Stories

GOP Senator to Seek Earmark Moratorium in Budget Resolution

Sen. Jim DeMint served notice Tuesday that he plans to seek a year-long earmark moratorium when the Senate considers the fiscal 2009 budget resolution.  [Read More]

EPA Chief Overruled Staff on California Greenhouse Gas Rules

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson was urged by his staff to allow California to set greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles, even though he ultimately decided to block the regulations, according to documents obtained by the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  [Read More]

House GOP Fails in Bid to Bring Up Senate Surveillance Bill

House Republicans tried again Tuesday to force a floor vote on Senate-passed legislation to overhaul the nation’s electronic surveillance law.  [Read More]

Governors Urge Lawmakers To Avoid Adding To Fiscal Woes

State governments need Uncle Sam to avoid burdensome new regulations and avoid actions that would hurt state budgets, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano told the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.  [Read More]

Senate Passes Indian Health Reauthorization

The Senate on Tuesday passed the largest overhaul of American Indian health care programs in more than a decade, a bill that would authorize new money and services for 1.8 million beneficiaries.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Feb. 26

Who was the last U.S. senator to win election without opposition from the other major party?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Salt Lake Deseret News reports that some Utah residents “may get the chance to vote for a Romney this November after all — Josh Romney, the son of former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, says he’s considering a run for Congress.” The younger Romney, 32, told the newspaper “he’s been approached to run as a Republican against 2nd Congressional District Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.” Romney, who campaigned across the country for his father during this year’s presidential primaries, is the only one of the five Romney sons who lives in Utah.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Democrat Nancy Skinner, who came within 4 points of defeating Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich., in 2006, announced Monday that she will not try again, clearing “the way for former Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters, who has widespread support of Democratic leadership and labor organizations, to take on Knollenberg. Peters, a former state Senator from Bloomfield Hills, has raised more than $400,000 for his campaign. ‘“The truth is that it takes enormous resources to beat an incumbent, and given the way our late primary is structured, a costly primary is a gift to Knollenberg,’ Skinner said. ‘Gary Peters has been able to amass those resources and support at a level that I have not been able to this point.”’

The San Mateo Daily Journal reports that Democratic state Sen. Jackie Speier and two Republicans will face off April 8 in an open special election primary for the seat of the late House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif. If no one gets a majority of the vote, the top vote-getter from each party will meet in a June 3 special general election that coincides with the regular congressional primary for the 12th District seat. Speier will face former GOP congressional candidate Mike Moloney and Gene Conlon, former president of the California Public Utilities Commission. Democrat Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor who had weighed a bid, decided against the move. “Despite grassroots support culled from the Internet, Lessig said he concluded he would lose to Speier.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
VALLEJO, CALIF: City on Brink of Bankruptcy
BOSTON: Mayor Moves to Control Library Funds
MILWAUKEE: Study Finds Voucher-Public School Parity
ILLINOIS: Judge Links Governor to Corruption Case
MINNESOTA: Report: Old Sewage Systems Polluting Waterways

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Monday, February 25, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, FEB. 25, 2008 – 1:50 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Dingell Resists Major State Role in Capping Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Iraq and Strains on Military Take Capitol Hill Spotlight
  • Anti-War Groups Seek To Make War Costs a Campaign Issue
  • Democrats Benefit From Shift in Muslim Voters’ Allegiance
  • Political Trivia for Feb. 25
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Today in Washington

The House convenes 4 p.m. to considers several measures under suspension of the rules.

The Senate   convenes at 3 p.m. for the reading of George Washington’s farewell address, then resumes debate of a measure on American Indian health care.

The President  participates in a briefing on a report by the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives; meets with the National Governors Association; makes remarks at the 2008 Republican Governors Association gala dinner at the National Building Museum.

In Washington,  the House Democratic Caucus and House Republican Conference hold the first in a series of bipartisan debates, with journalist Ron Brownstein moderating, 8 p.m., Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington University, 2121 Eye Street N.W.

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Top Stories

Dingell Resists Major State Role in Capping Greenhouse Gas Emissions

State building codes could help make a federal global warming program more efficient, but other state and local climate initiatives may be counterproductive, according to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  [Read More]

Iraq and Strains on Military Take Capitol Hill Spotlight

Iraq, along with the strains it has placed on the U.S. military, returns to center stage in Congress this week after being overshadowed for months by mounting worries about the economy.  [Read More]

Anti-War Groups Seek To Make War Costs a Campaign Issue

Anti-war groups announced Monday that they will kick off a campaign to tie the costs of the war in Iraq with domestic economic issues in a bid to build opposition to the president’s war policy before the November election.  [Read More]

Democrats Benefit From Shift in Muslim Voters’ Allegiance

Muslim Americans, many of whom gave President Bush enthusiastic support in his first election campaign in 2000, have largely fled the Republican Party and could help Democrats win key states this November.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Feb. 25

How many of the 50 governors were born in the state they govern?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that two Nebraska Democrats were planning to make their official entry Monday into the race for the Senate nomination. Former House candidate Scott Kleeb announced Sunday on his new campaign Web site that he would file Monday. Meanwhile, industrialist Tony Raimondo, chairman of Behlen Manufacturing Co., planned a 1 p.m. announcement in his company’s cafeteria. The two will compete in a May 13 primary for the chance to face Republican former Gov. Mike Johanns, who has only token primary opposition, in November. GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel is not seeking re-election.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is winning a growing number of endorsements from Democrats, even as the list of potential Democratic challengers continues to grow. Among Democrats supporting Alexander are former state Attorney General Paul Summers and Bill Morris, a former Democratic candidate for governor. Meanwhile, former state Democratic Chairman Bob Tuke said it was “very likely” that he will reverse an earlier decision not to seek the nomination for the seat. Nashville businessman Kenneth Eaton and former Knox County Clerk Mike Padgett already are seeking the Democratic nomination.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Report: Lead Levels Spiked after Pipe Replacement
DALLAS COUNTY: D.A. Gave Filmmakers Access to JFK Documents
SAN FRANCISCO: Historic Fire Chief's Home Vandalized
FLORIDA: Double-Dippers Cost State $300 Million
MASSACHUSETTS: State Rationing Childhood Vaccines
ARIZONA: Impeached Former Governor Dies
CALIFORNIA: Panel: State Shortchanging the Wrongfully Convicted

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