Thursday, July 03, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2008 – 2:03 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Republicans Offer New Deal on Tax Cut Extensions
  • Medicare Battle Will Resume Next Week
  • DHS Continues Threat Assessment Over Holiday
  • Political Trivia for July 3
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session. Reconvenes Tuesday, July 8, at 2 p.m.

The Senate is not in session. Reconvenes Monday, July 7, at 2 p.m.

The President makes remarks at ceremonial groundbreaking of Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

In Washington, open rehearsal is held for the annual Capitol Fourth of July concert, west lawn of the Capitol, through 5:30 p.m.

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Top Stories

Republicans Offer New Deal on Tax Cut Extensions

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a new strategy Thursday for breaking a deadlock over a series of expired and expiring tax provisions.  [Read More]

Medicare Battle Will Resume Next Week

Senate Republican leaders on Friday called for a one-month hiatus in the partisan battle over Medicare physician payment rates, a bid that is likely to fall on deaf ears.  [Read More]

DHS Continues Threat Assessment Over Holiday

The Homeland Security Department reported Thursday it has received no credible threats so far to suggest a terrorist attack for the July Fourth holiday, but it is continuing to monitor for problems.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 3

Who was the last Republican VP nominee announced during convention week?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Staten Island Advance reports that former Assemblyman Robert Straniere “has begun gathering petitions” to qualify for a ballot spot in the race for the Republican nomination to succeed scandal-scarred Rep. Vito J. Fossella, R-N.Y., despite a “rocky relationship with GOP bigwigs on Staten Island.” Straniere faces a July 10 deadline to qualify for the ballot. Republicans have struggled to select a candidate since their preferred choice, Frank Powers, died of a heart attack in June. “Councilman Michael McMahon (D-North Shore) has been endorsed by the national and local Democratic parties, but the Staten Island GOP has been unable to decide on a replacement for the late Powers,” the paper noted. Straniere needs 1,250 valid signatures to get on the ballot.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Jim King, “the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite in the GOP primary, is suspending his campaign after being sidelined by a serious back injury.” King may drop out of the race “but won’t make that final determination until consulting with doctors next week.” His name will appear on the Aug. 26 ballot regardless, the paper said. “In past elections, Brown-Waite has easily defeated Democratic challengers but this is the first time she has faced competition from within her party.”

The Seattle Times reports that “supporters of a so-called ‘Death With Dignity’ initiative turned in an estimated 320,000 signatures Tuesday to the Secretary of State’s Office, virtually guaranteeing that Initiative 1000 will be on the November ballot.” The drive to make Washington the second state to allow physician-assisted suicide is being led by former Gov. Booth Gardner, “a Parkinson’s disease patient who filed the initiative in January,” although his condition would not “qualify him for aid in dying” under conditions set by the ballot proposition. Neighboring Oregon is the only state that currently allows physician-assisted suicide, the result of a voter initiative first adopted in 1994.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SEATTLE/OKLAHOMA CITY: Deal Lets Sonics Leave Seattle
SAN FRANCISCO: Mayor: City Will Turn Over Convicted Juvenile Illegals
NEW YORK CITY: Comptroller: Child-Care Centers Misspent Public Funds
CALIFORNIA: Wildfires Rage in North and South
INDIANA: Flood-Damaged Farms to Get State Aid
FLORIDA: State Lottery to Join Powerball

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2008 – 2:09 P.M.

In This Issue

  • High Gas Prices Shift Public Views on Domestic Oil Drilling, Poll Shows
  • New Report Suggests Ways to Reduce Tax Gap
  • High Court’s Campaign Finance Ruling Poses Threat to State Laws
  • Political Trivia for July 2
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Today in Washington

The House has adjourned for the July Fourth recess; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 8.

The Senate has adjourned for the July Fourth recess; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Monday, July 7.

President Bush makes a statement about the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan, which he will attend next week.

In Washington, the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, featuring a salute to Texas music, food and wine, and a celebration of Bhutan, resumes on the National Mall, daily through July 6, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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Top Stories

High Gas Prices Shift Public Views on Domestic Oil Drilling, Poll Shows

Soaring gasoline prices appear to be changing public views about the merits of oil and gas drilling in environmentally sensitive areas like Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a new poll shows.  [Read More]

New Report Suggests Ways to Reduce Tax Gap

A new Government Accountability Office report is reigniting the interest of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus in closing the “tax gap” between taxes owed and taxes paid.  [Read More]

High Court’s Campaign Finance Ruling Poses Threat to State Laws

Last week’s Supreme Court decision nullifying the “millionaire’s amendment’’ in federal campaign finance laws means renewed legal challenges to programs in at least eight states and two cities that provide more in public funds to candidates running against privately financed foes.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 2

How many times have the Democrats begun their national convention on July 4?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

Minnesota Public Radio reports that Democrat Al Franken, who is seeking to oust Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, says he no longer would support an increase in the federal gas tax in light of recent price surges. “Last year, Franken said he would not rule out a small increase in the gas tax to help pay for infrastructure improvements,” the station reports. “However, that was in the wake of the I-35W bridge collapse, when gas was selling below $3 a gallon.” Franken wrote on his Web site that Minnesotans are feeling the squeeze after a nearly 50 percent jump in gas prices since the bridge collapse. “We need to take that option off the table and find another way to fund our infrastructure,” Franken wrote. Coleman has opposed increasing the federal gas tax.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who built a national reputation pushing cutting-edge — and controversial — policies on same-sex marriage, health care and other issues, launched an exploratory bid for governor Tuesday.” The 40-year-old, two-term mayor is part of a “a large Democratic field eyeing the race to succeed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is barred by term limits from running again in 2010.” Among others “widely discussed” as potential candidates are Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, a former governor; Lt. Gov. John Garamendi; former Controller Steve Westly, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2006, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “Among Republicans, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is seen as likely to run.”

The Concord Monitor reports that former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen plans to use incumbent GOP Sen. John E. Sununu’s voting record against him. She said their rematch will be a referendum on what Sununu has done since winning the seat in 2002. Polls indicate Shaheen has an 11-point lead. “He’s running as an incumbent senator now...who voted with this administration 90 percent of the time and got us to where we are today: with $9 trillion in debt, a war in Iraq with no end, a housing crisis, gas prices that are the highest in history, and no energy plan,” Shaheen said. But Sununu spokeswoman Julie Teer attacked “Jeanne Shaheen’s legacy of failed leadership and higher taxes.” Shaheen is a former three-term governor, and much of the 2002 race focused on her record. Now she hopes to turn the tables, the paper said.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
DETROIT: Four Council Members Targeted in Corruption Probe
NEW YORK CITY: Hospital Agency Vows Reforms after Videotaped Death
OAKLAND, Calif.: Mayor Fires City Administrator
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Proposal Allows Loaded Guns for Self-Defense
PHILADELPHIA: City Union Authorizes Strike
RHODE ISLAND: Court Overturns Statea??s $2.4 Billion Lead-Paint Victory
FLORIDA: State Resumes Executions
THE WEST: Governors Avoid ’Balkanization‘ on Climate Change

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2008 – 2:40 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Lower Rates Kick In for Student Loans
  • While Others Wait, Israel Gets Its Military Aid Up Front
  • Senate GOP Leaders Urge July Action on Renewal of Tax Breaks
  • Pelosi Will Publish, Promote a Book in Month Before Convention
  • Political Trivia for July 1
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Today in Washington

The House has adjourned for the July Fourth recess; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 8.

The Senate has adjourned for the July Fourth recess; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Monday, July 7.

President Bush visits Jackson, Miss., to attend a fundraising luncheon for GOP Sen. Roger Wicker before heading to Arkansas for a roundtable on housing and consumer credit counseling in North Little Rock and a Republican fundraising reception in Little Rock.

In Washington, the Georgetown University Library Associates and Lynx Investment Advisory, LLC host a panel discussion, “Economic Slowdown, Market Fallout and the Path to Financial Recovery,” featuring chief investment officers and managers from various organizations. 6 p.m., Lauinger Library, 37th and O Streets N.W.

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Top Stories

Lower Rates Kick In for Student Loans

Congressional Democrats touted lower interest rates that kicked in Tuesday on certain federally subsidized student loans, a day after President Bush signed the latest extension of the law governing federal support for higher education.  [Read More]

While Others Wait, Israel Gets Its Military Aid Up Front

While most countries that benefit from U.S. help will have to wait for their annual aid installment until the fiscal 2009 appropriations process plays out, the newly enacted war supplemental provides a significant boost in military financing for Israel.  [Read More]

Senate GOP Leaders Urge July Action on Renewal of Tax Breaks

Senate GOP leaders on Tuesday urged their Democratic counterparts to work on a bipartisan tax package this month that would revive or renew a slew of individual and business tax breaks.  [Read More]

Pelosi Will Publish, Promote a Book in Month Before Convention

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new book, “Know Your Power — A Message to America’s Daughters,’’ comes out at the end of this month, allowing the Speaker to hit the book promotion trail as she prepares for her spotlighted role as permanent chair of the Democratic National Convention in late August.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 1

What identifier does not apply to William Howard Taft?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Democrats want Sen. Norm Coleman to produce his lease and other information on the Capitol Hill apartment “he has rented since last summer from a longtime friend and wealthy Republican operative.” Coleman, R-Minn., is in a tough re-election race against Democrat Al Franken. Brian Melendez, the state Democratic chair, says media accounts of Coleman’s arrangements suggest the senator “is getting a sweetheart deal” that may violate Senate ethics rules. The building is owned by Jeff Larson, a St. Paul businessman whose telemarketing firm has provided services worth more than $1.5 million to Coleman’s campaigns and political action committee since 2001. The newspaper says Coleman says he is renting “cramped space” from a friend and is paying fair market value for the basement apartment.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that as he runs for governor of Missouri, Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof hopes an endorsement from House Minority Whip Roy Blunt will help show that he is the “consensus candidate” for the GOP nomination. Hulshof faces an Aug. 5 primary against state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. Blunt, R-Mo., officially endorsed Hulshof on Monday. Hulfshof supporters point to endorsements from 68 state legislators, Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, to make the case that he has broad support. But Steelman backers counter that she has significant support too and has already won statewide office. Her spokesman said voters will decide the nominee, “not a few politicians.” The next governor will replace Matt Blunt, son of the congressman, who decided not to seek re-election.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
DETROIT: Schools Slash $522 Million, Avert Shutdow
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.: County to Buy Foreclosed Properties
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas: Sheriff Apologizes to Muslims for E-Mails
NEW YORK CITY: 9/11 Memorial Project May Be Delayed for Years
MONTANA: Land Deal Protects 320,000 Acres

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Monday, June 30, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2008 – 1:40 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Administration Delays Medicare Payment Cuts for Now
  • Court Refuses to Suspend Medicare Durable Equipment Bidding Awards
  • Bush Signs Final War Spending Bill of His Presidency
  • Political Trivia for June 30
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Today in Washington

The House has adjourned for the July Fourth recess; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 8.

The Senate meets in pro forma session, then adjourns for the July Fourth recess; reconvenes at 2 p.m. Monday, July 7.

President Bush signs this year’s war supplemental appropriations act; attends a White House T-ball game.

In Washington, Freedom House hosts a briefing with representatives of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, civil society organizations and the U.S. State Department to discuss the country’s political crisis. The discussion will examine possible courses of action for international and African bodies seeking to resolve the political standoff with President Robert Mugabe. 3 p.m., SEIU Building, 1800 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

Administration Delays Medicare Payment Cuts for Now

The Bush administration has announced that it will hold off processing new Medicare claims from physicians to give Congress more time to avert deep cuts in doctors’ payments set to take effect Tuesday.  [Read More]

Court Refuses to Suspend Medicare Durable Equipment Bidding Awards

Companies that lost out on bids to provide home medical supplies to Medicare patients also lost another round in court on Monday, when a federal judge in Washington declined to issue an injunction against the bidding program.  [Read More]

Bush Signs Final War Spending Bill of His Presidency

President Bush on Monday signed a $186.5 billion supplemental spending bill that provides funding for another year of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while greatly expanding GI Bill education benefits for veterans of the two wars.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for June 30

How many Republicans have been nominated for president in the states where they resided?  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
DETROIT: Council President's Aide Taped Taking Cash
THE MIDWEST: Flooded Towns' Dilemma: Rebuild or Relocate?
WASHINGTON, D.C.: City Weighing New Gun Controls
OAKLAND, Calif.: Mayor Puts Embattled City Administrator on Leave
SOUTH DAKOTA: Injunction Lifted for Abortion Law
THE WEST: Governors Move to Coordinate Wildlife Management
CALIFORNIA: Judge Orders Minutemen Adopt-a-Highway Sign Restored
NEW YORK STATE: Governor's Cataract Surgery Successful

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Political Clippings

The Hartford Courant reports that Democrats are upbeat about the possibility that Jim Himes can unseat Connecticut’s Christopher Shays, “the only Republican holding a House seat in New England.” The 4th District lawmaker has survived close races in recent elections. “With an influx of new Democratic voters, many of them drawn to the party by Sen. Barack Obama, the Himes campaign says the [district] is ripe for a change,” the newspaper reports. But first Himes faces “an unexpected hurdle” in an August primary against Lee Whitnum, a substitute teacher who petitioned her way onto the ballot. Himes sees the primary as a chance talk to voters about the issues of the campaign. For his part, Shays says the primary could raise the profile of his likely challenger.

The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., reports that Democrat Frank Kratovil is getting some serious fundraising help in his race for Maryland’s 1st District House seat. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee held a fundraiser for Kratovil in Washington last week that raised nearly $80,000 and has targeted the race for extra help. Leading Democratic lawmakers from the state — including Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer — stressed the importance of beating state Sen. Andy Harris in November. Harris defeated nine-term GOP Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest in a February primary. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the DCCC, says Kratovil is “more in line with the tradition of Gilchrest, who is known as an independent and moderate.” The GOP, meanwhile, says Harris’ “commitment to lower taxes and decreasing wasteful government spending” is in line with district voters.

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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: Congress adjourns for the July 4 recess without passing legislation that would stop a scheduled pay cut in Medicare physician payment rates scheduled to go into effect July 1.
HHS: Senate panel passes measure to fund the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other agencies but action on House version of bill stalls.
HEALTH IT: House committee approves measure to encourage widespread use of health information technology. | Read the online report | Health on the Hill audio links

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