Friday, April 11, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008 – 1:50 P.M.

In This Issue

  • White House Intends to Hold $108 Billion Line in Supplemental
  • Climate Change Bill Could Cost Private Sector Billions, CBO Says
  • House Will Try to Bolster Student Loan Availability
  • Senate Chairman Seeks 18-Month Halt to Medicare Physician Payment Cuts
  • Political Trivia for April 11
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Today in Washington

The House  is not in session; reconvenes for legislative business at 2 p.m. Monday, when it will consider minor measures under suspension of the rules.

The Senate  is not in session; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Monday to consider motion to take up a highway technical corrections bill.

The President  attends an evening Republican National Committee reception in Crawford, Texas.

In Washington,  the $450 million Newseum, a monument to journalism, celebrates its grand opening, with events throughout the day capped by a gala at 8 p.m. 555 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

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Top Stories

White House Intends to Hold $108 Billion Line in Supplemental

The White House escalated the war of words over the fiscal 2008 supplemental bill Friday, promising not to allow overall funding increases as it eventually did last year.  [Read More]

Climate Change Bill Could Cost Private Sector Billions, CBO Says

Congressional budget analysts have concluded that a Senate climate change bill would not increase the federal deficit but would cost the private sector billions of dollars annually.  [Read More]

House Will Try to Bolster Student Loan Availability

Racing to ensure that college students can obtain loans this year to finance their education, the House will vote next week on legislation aimed at stepping up their availability.  [Read More]

Senate Chairman Seeks 18-Month Halt to Medicare Physician Payment Cuts

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee met with lobbyists for various physicians’ groups Friday to seek their support for a “modest” plan to stop an upcoming cut in Medicare payments to doctors.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for April 11

Which Arkansas Democrat unseated Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright in a primary?  [Read More]

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Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations

This 1-day course explores basic congressional budget process concepts along with key players, their roles and relationships. Learn about discretionary and mandatory spending, the budget resolution and reconciliation process. You will also learn about the relationship of authorization and appropriations legislation, hear real, modern-day examples that illustrate the process, and have ample time to discuss concerns and roadblocks encountered with the budget process.
WHERE: Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh Street N.W.
WHEN: May 16, 2008, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Registration Fee: $595
Full program description and secure 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 New Hampshire Union Leader reports former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen says her Senate campaign raised nearly $1.2 million in the first quarter of this year and has nearly $2 million on hand. Shaheen, a Democrat, had raised $1.36 million through the end of 2007. Shaheen is challenging Sen. John E. Sununu, R-N.H., in a re-match of their 2002 campaign. Sununu has not yet released his quarterly fundraising figures, but had $3.4 million on hand at the end of last year.

The Quad-City Times reported that Iowa state Sen. Dick Dearden, a Democratic supporter of Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, D-Iowa, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Boswell’s primary opponent, Ed Fallon. The complaint says Fallon is using his for-profit business to assist his bid for office. In a statement, Fallon said he welcomed an investigation. “I live simply. I’ve always been a voice for ethics in government, and I have never taken a penny from a PAC or lobbyist,” Fallon said. “Clearly, Boswell’s people are trying to discredit me on my strengths instead of discussing the real challenges facing America. Voters deserve better than this.” The Boswell campaign denied being behind the complaint.

The Terre Haute Tribune reports that an early morning fire Friday destroyed the soon-to-open Hillary Clinton campaign office in the Indiana city. No one was hurt in the fire, and officials are investigating the cause. Former President Bill Clinton later surveyed the damage during a campaign visit to the city.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NORTH DAKOTA | MONTANA: Billions of Barrels of Oil May Lie Under Plains
THE NATION: As U.S. Heating Aid Drops, Venezuela Chips In
VIRGINIA: Most Virginia Tech Families Reach Settlement Deal on Shootings
CALIFORNIA | OREGON: Off-Coast Salmon Fishing Banned
GREAT LAKES REGION: Climate Change Could Sap Lakes
LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Embattled Healthcare Director Quits
PHILADELPHIA: Mayor Defiantly Signs New Gun Laws

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2008 – 2:04 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush Softens Tone as Senate Passes Housing Package
  • Bush Again Levels Veto Threat Against Iraq Policy Riders
  • House Votes to Delay Action on Colombia Trade Pact
  • Long-Delayed Farm Bill Conference Begins
  • GOP Senators Threaten Blockade Unless More Appeals Court Nominees Get Votes
  • Political Trivia for April 10
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Today in Washington

The House  adopts a resolution that could derail further consideration of the Colombia free-trade agreement.

The Senate  passes a bipartisan housing and mortgage credit package after votes on amendments.

The President  participates in a breakfast with Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker; makes a statement on Iraq before departing for Crawford, Texas.

In Washington,  the Washington Foreign Press Center holds an on-the-record briefing on Iraq with Philip Reeker, counselor to U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. 3:30 p.m., Foreign Press Center, National Press Building, 529 14th St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Bush Softens Tone as Senate Passes Housing Package

The Senate by 84-12 passed a bipartisan housing package Thursday, amid indications that President Bush is eager to receive a final version he can sign.  [Read More]

Bush Again Levels Veto Threat Against Iraq Policy Riders

President Bush on Thursday fired back at congressional Democrats considering restrictions on his Iraq policy, saying he will again veto any supplemental spending bill that contains withdrawal time lines or extra funding he did not request.  [Read More]

House Votes to Delay Action on Colombia Trade Pact

Over vehement Republican protests, the House voted Thursday to delay indefinitely its consideration of a Colombia free-trade agreement opposed by most Democrats.  [Read More]

Long-Delayed Farm Bill Conference Begins

House and Senate conferees met briefly Thursday to begin hammering out a final version of the long-delayed farm bill.  [Read More]

GOP Senators Threaten Blockade Unless More Appeals Court Nominees Get Votes

Senate Republicans on Thursday kept up a steady drumbeat of protest against the slow pace of floor action on appeals court nominations that could include blocking an overhaul of federal patent law and other legislation.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for April 10

How many women are in California’s congressional delegation with the election of its newest member?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that former congressman Dick Zimmer indicated he might seek the New Jersey Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate and Andy Unanue appears to be ending his run.

“Unanue informed his campaign staff yesterday he was quitting,” the paper reports.

Zimmer said he had been asked to consider running for the seat occupied by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J.

Zimmer cautioned that his decision depended on party leaders’ support.

“Zimmer, now a lawyer-lobbyist in Washington, D.C., served nine years in the state legislature before winning a seat in Congress in 1990. He served three terms in the House before seeking Sen. Bill Bradley’s open U.S. Senate seat in 1996. He lost to Robert Torricelli.”

The deadline for filing nomination petitions was Monday. Candidates have until Wednesday to drop out and permit party leaders to name a replacement to fill the vacancy.

State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., ruled out a run in the primary, creating a vacancy. Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin and state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio vowed to stay in the race.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that “a Gloucester County homemaker with no election experience is challenging a six-term congressman in southern New Jersey.”

Donna Ward is challenging Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, R-N.J., in June’s Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District.

Ward is married with three children.

“Ward said she decided to run for Congress after the Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns this year with a $29 billion investment package. Critics said the deal forces U.S. taxpayers to assume the debt’s risk.”

Not backed by the Republican county committee, Ward collected more than 300 signatures to earn a place on the ballot.

The winner of the June 3 primary will face Cape May Democrat David Kurkowski in November.

The Mid-Hudson News reports that former New York Governor George Pataki Wednesday endorsed George Oros to win the September Republican primary against Kieran Lalor.

Incumbent Democrat Rep. John Hall of the 19th District is seeking his second term in November.

“Oros, who opened his campaign headquarters in Peekskill, is a 13-year veteran of the Westchester County Board of Legislators and previously served as a Town of Cortlandt councilman.”

“These are challenging times,” Pataki said. “It’s not good enough going to Washington talking about reform, and then voting against it. You need someone to go to Washington committed to reform and that can make it happen, and that is George Oros.”.

Lalor responded, “George Oros and I are two starkly different candidates — he represents the Republican Party’s declining influence both nationally and here within New York State,” he said. “I represent our Party’s hope for the future, and our ability to take on the big-government, career politicians who have overseen our Party’s decline through the past decade.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: States Fall Behind on Buying Flu Drugs
MARYLAND: Prison Abuse Inquiry Widens
GEORGIA: State DOT May Face $1 Billion Shortfall for Projects
CONNECTICUT: Income Gap is Nation's Fastest-Growing
SAN FRANCISCO: Mayor Defends Last-Minute Route Change for Torch Relay

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2008 – 2:10 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Pelosi to Delay House Vote on Colombia Trade Pact
  • Student Loan Legislation Approved by House Panel
  • Administration, Lawmakers Offer FHA Expansion Plans
  • Skelton Fears Iraq Leaves U.S. Vulnerable to Attack
  • Senate Judiciary Democrats Query Mukasey on Reassignment
  • Political Trivia for April 9
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Today in Washington

The House  considers several bills under suspension of the rules, including a measure on a land conservation program established under the Clinton administration.

The Senate  continues to consider amendments to housing and mortgage legislation, with final passage possible tonight.

The President  participates in a commemorative tree planting at The White House; signs the Second Chance Act of 2007, to help ex-convicts; meets with senior minister of Singapore; meets with congressional leaders on Iraq and other topics.

In Washington,  Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez meet with Colombian labor leaders to discuss the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. 3 p.m., U.S. Department of Labor Briefing Room, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

Pelosi to Delay House Vote on Colombia Trade Pact

House Democratic leaders plan to seek a floor vote Thursday to delay consideration of the newly submitted Colombia free trade agreement, countering President Bush’s effort to force a speedy decision on the deal.  [Read More]

Student Loan Legislation Approved by House Panel

A House panel Wednesday approved by voice vote legislation intended to increase the availability of student loans funded directly by the government.  [Read More]

Administration, Lawmakers Offer FHA Expansion Plans

The Bush administration will expand a program designed to help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages into government-backed loans, but congressional Democrats consider the plan inadequate.  [Read More]

Skelton Fears Iraq Leaves U.S. Vulnerable to Attack

House Democrats and Republicans each sought Wednesday to frame the latest reports from the top U.S. officials in Iraq to advance their policy goals, with the chairman of the Armed Services Committee saying the war was leaving the nation vulnerable to attack.  [Read More]

Senate Judiciary Democrats Query Mukasey on Reassignment

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats are pressing Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to respond to allegations a Justice Department lawyer was reassigned due to her sexual orientation.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for April 9

Who was the most recent House Democrat from New England who lost a race for re-election?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

Indianapolis television station WTHR reports that Indiana Democratic Party leaders have endorsed Rep. Andre Carson in the May 7 primary, but that hasn’t stopped the seven challengers from mounting strong campaigns. “The good news is there are more voters coming out than ever before. The challenging thing is we have to find a way to attract them not just to the presidential race but the other races as well,” said Woody Myers, a former state health commissioner who is seeking the seat. He and two state representatives, Carolene Mays and David Orentlicher, plan radio and TV ads to attract voter attention, as does Carson, who has less time to campaign at home than his challengers.

The Troy Record reports that Democrat John Aretakis, an attorney who gained fame by representing victims of sexual abuse by priests, announced Tuesday his bid to succeed Rep. Michael R. McNulty, D-N.Y. Aretakis joins “five Democrats and two Republicans in the race,” the paper reports. During his announcement, Aretakis “stressed his signature issue, the ongoing epidemic surrounding the sexual abuse of children -- an issue he believes is ignored by federal officials.” Aretakis “said he would also focus on pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq and instituting a change in social security as well as the development of strategies to put an end to increasing property taxes, the economic crisis and pork barrel spending.”

Other Democratic candidates include Phillip Steck, an Albany County legislator, former aide to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Tracey Brooks, former Plug Power CEO Gary Mittleman, Albany’s Equal Opportunity Coordinator Lester Freeman and former aide to U.S. Rep Kirsten Gillibrand Darius Shahinfar.

Republicans Jim Buhrmaster, a Schenectady County legislator, and Steven Vasquez, a Ballston Spa businessman, are also vying for the seat.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: Nation's Aging Water Pipelines are Breaking
SAN DIEGO: Mayor: Halt Legal Expenses for Accused City Officials
HOUSTON: Ad firm agrees to tear down 831 billboards in city
DELAWARE: Growing Pains for a Deep-Sea Home Built of Subway Cars

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2008 – 1:53 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Petraeus Seeks Open-Ended Pause in Troop Withdrawals From Iraq
  • Biden, Kennedy Demand Help for Iraqi Refugees
  • House Panel to Consider Its Own Housing Tax Package as Senate Nears Vote
  • Political Trivia for April 8
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Today in Washington

The House  considers several bills under suspension of the rules, including measures on brain injury treatment and infant health screening.

The Senate  continues to consider amendments to housing and mortgage legislation; Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees each hold hearings on U.S. commitment in Iraq, with U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Gen. David H. Petraeus.

The President  participates in a Medal of Honor presentation; meets with Afghanistan provincial governors.

In Washington,  House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., receives the Louis E. Martin Great American Award from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. 7:30 p.m., Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 1150 22nd St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Petraeus Seeks Open-Ended Pause in Troop Withdrawals From Iraq

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told Congress Tuesday that he has recommended a halt to troop withdrawals for at least 45 days once the “surge” forces added last year depart this summer.  [Read More]

Biden, Kennedy Demand Help for Iraqi Refugees

Two senior Democratic senators called on the Bush administration Tuesday to increase aid for the estimated 4 million Iraqis driven from their homes by the five-year-old war.  [Read More]

House Panel to Consider Its Own Housing Tax Package as Senate Nears Vote

The Senate was hoping to pass its bipartisan housing package in relatively short order this week after a vote Tuesday to limit debate on the consensus package.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for April 8

How many current House members from Texas have served non-consecutive tenures?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., raised $2 million for his re-election campaign during the first quarter of 2008, according to the Coleman campaign. That’s up from $1.7 million raised in the fourth quarter of 2007. Coleman has reported raising a total of almost $12.4 million for his re-election run, with nearly $7 million cash on hand at the close of the reporting period. The two challengers from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party — Al Franken and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer — have not yet released their numbers.

The Aurora Beacon reports that the combined tab for the race to fill former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s Illinois House seat for the remainder of this Congress topped $9 million. The winner of the 14th District race, Democrat Bill Foster, spent about $3.1 million, according to his campaign. Republican Jim Oberweis spent almost $3.8 million. The national congressional campaign committees for both parties spent another $2.3 million in total, mostly on TV and direct-mail ads. The candidates, both millionaires, also each loaned more than $2 million to their campaigns. The two are expected to square off again in November to represent the district in the 111th Congress for a full two-year term.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SAN FRANCISCO: City Prepares for Olympic Torch Run
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.: Transcripts Reveal Lax Monitoring of Inmates
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Audit Faults Financial Controls
DETROIT: Mayor’s Ex-Aide Won't Be Tethered After All
THE WEST: Wolves Debate Seizes Rockies

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Monday, April 07, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, APRIL 7, 2008 – 2:12 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Bush To Defy Pelosi, Send Colombia Trade Pact to Congress
  • McCain, GOP Leaders Defend Iraq War Progress
  • China Blasts House Consideration of Tibet Resolution
  • Negotiators Start Talks on 911 Service for Internet Phone Companies
  • Political Trivia for April 7
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Today in Washington

The House  is not in session; reconvenes at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, with legislative business at 2 p.m.

The Senate  continues to consider amendments to housing and mortgage legislation.

The President  announces he is sending Colombia trade deal to Congress; meets with small and medium-sized business owners on the economic stimulus package; holds photo opportunity and makes remarks to the 2007 NCAA football champions.

In Washington,  the Hudson Institute holds a discussion on the evolution of U.S. counterterrorism policy, with Michael Swetnam of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Yonah Alexander of the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies. 4 p.m., 1015 15th St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Bush To Defy Pelosi, Send Colombia Trade Pact to Congress

President Bush said Monday he will send the pending Colombia free-trade agreement to Congress, setting up a showdown with Democrats who strongly oppose the pact.  [Read More]

McCain, GOP Leaders Defend Iraq War Progress

Led by their presumptive presidential nominee, Senate Republicans are lining up to defend President Bush’s strategy in Iraq as Congress prepares to hear the latest progress report from top U.S. military and diplomatic officials.  [Read More]

China Blasts House Consideration of Tibet Resolution

China reacted angrily Monday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposed House resolution calling on Beijing to end its crackdown on dissent in Tibet and enter into negotiations with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled leader.  [Read More]

Negotiators Start Talks on 911 Service for Internet Phone Companies

Informal negotiations designed to resolve differences between House and Senate bills to give Internet phone companies the legal tools to provide emergency 911 service are set to begin this week.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for April 7

Since the Civil War, how many times has Alabama’s 5th Congressional District been represented by a Republican?  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
HOUSTON: Airport Set for $1.2 Billion Overhaul
DETROIT: Electronic Tether Ordered for Mayora??s Ex-Aide
SAN FRANCISCO: Ad Campaign Reaches Out to Illegal Immigrants
WASHINGTON, D.C.: City Sues Owners of 71 Deteriorating Rental Buildings
SAN ANTONIO, Texas: Embattled Auditor Steps Down
TEXAS: Officials Enter Polygamist Sect's Temple

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Political Clippings

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that despite encouragement from Republican presidential candidate John McCain, “a Princeton father who founded his own biotech company to save two of his children from a rare disease, will not run for U.S. Senate.” John Crowley, a Navy reservist and president of Amicus Therapeutics of Cranbury, said “he ‘really wanted’ to run” but decided it was not in the best interest of his family and others “with rare diseases he hopes one day to cure.” Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., faces a primary challenge from Rep. Robert E. Andrews, while three Republicans also seek to challenge him: State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin, and former Goya Foods executive Andy Unanue.

The Boston Globe reports that challengers in both parties are having a hard time gaining any traction against veteran Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., his party’s 2004 presidential candidate. Republicans Jeff Beatty and Jim Ogonowski, along with Democrat Ed O’Reilly, face a “Herculean task,” the paper said. Kerry, in his fourth term, “has not faced a serious challenge” since 1996 and his “$9.9 million war chest dwarfs his opponents.’”

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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.
TOBACCO: House panel approves legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco.
AIDS: House approves legislation to reauthorize global AIDS funding program.
MEDICAID: Witnesses at a House hearing warn of problems ahead with Bush Administrationa??s proposed regulations. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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