Friday, July 11, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

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

In This Issue

  • Lawmakers Want Action on Regulatory Overhaul for Mortgage Finance Giants
  • Negotiators Close to Deal on Mental Health Parity
  • Political Trivia for July 11
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate takes up a housing package and a bill extending international AIDS relief funding.

The President  Meets with his economic team; travels to Camp David for the weekend.

In Washington, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., and others, hold a reception to introduce the Communities in Action Neighborhood Defense and Opportunity bill. 6 p.m., 1301 U St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Lawmakers Want Action on Regulatory Overhaul for Mortgage Finance Giants

As shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were battered again Friday, key lawmakers stepped up their calls for a regulatory overhaul of the two mortgage finance giants.  [Read More]

Negotiators Close to Deal on Mental Health Parity

House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on important portions of a long-stalled mental health parity draft bill, but the legislation still lacks a spending offset that would let it move forward.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 11

How many states favored President Bush in 2004 while electing Democratic senators?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Albany Times Union reports that the field to replace retiring Rep. Michael R. McNulty, D-N.Y., is now set. “Four Democratic candidates emerged from the petition-filing deadline Thursday, chopping in half the crowded field that once numbered up to 10 Democratic hopefuls in the most competitive 21st [District] race in more than 50 years.” Among the contenders in the Democratic-leaning district are former state Assemblyman Paul Tonko and Tracey Books, who worked as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s regional director. Two Republicans also filed Thursday. The primary is Sept. 9.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund continues to spend heavily in its campaign against Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo. The political arm of Defenders of Wildlife, a national environmental group, mounted a $200,000 advertising campaign last month criticizing Musgrave “for taking contributions from energy groups, voting against enhanced fuel efficiency standards and for tax breaks for energy companies,” the newspaper said. A report filed with the Federal Election Commission this week shows that the group spent another $18,000 to set up an on-the-ground effort in Northern Colorado. The group has endorsed Musgrave’s Democratic opponent, Betsy Markey.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
WISCONSIN: Court: Sex Offenders on Probation Can Have Pornography
CALIFORNIA: State, Feds May Buy Flooded Homes
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Team Withholds Millions in Rent for New Ballpark
JACKSON, Miss.: Mayor, Bodyguards Charged in Wrecking of House
PHILADELPHIA: Arbitrators Award Police Raises for One Year
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA: Transit Agency Making Moves to Solar

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, JULY 10, 2008 – 2:14 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Byrd Plans Second Supplemental Markup Next Week
  • Senate Expected to Pass Housing Bill Back to House
  • Capitol Visitor Center To Open Dec. 2
  • President Signs Electronic Surveillance Legislation; Lawsuits Expected
  • House Panel Approves Bills to Overhaul Veterans Health Care
  • Political Trivia for July 10
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Today in Washington

The House considers a national historic trail designation bill that has garnered some controversy due to Republican concerns over private property rights.

The Senate takes up a housing package and may also consider a bill to extend foreign AIDS relief.

The President  has no public events scheduled.

In Washington, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress, discusses “Muslim American civic engagement and participation in the 2008 presidential election and US politics,” in a speech to the second annual Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Leadership Summit. 7 p.m., Hyatt Regency, 400 New Jersey Ave, N.W.

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Top Stories

Byrd Plans Second Supplemental Markup Next Week

Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert C. Byrd is expected to announce Thursday that his panel will mark up a second supplemental spending bill July 22.  [Read More]

Senate Expected to Pass Housing Bill Back to House

The Senate appeared ready Thursday to send a massive housing package back to the House, after final Republican holdouts relented.  [Read More]

Capitol Visitor Center To Open Dec. 2

The long-delayed, $621 million Capitol Visitor Center will open Dec. 2, congressional leaders planned to announce Thursday.  [Read More]

President Signs Electronic Surveillance Legislation; Lawsuits Expected

President Bush on Thursday signed a sweeping revision of a 30-year-old law governing electronic spying, putting the finishing touches on one of his final legislative wins and triggering expected lawsuits from privacy advocates.  [Read More]

House Panel Approves Bills to Overhaul Veterans Health Care

A House panel Thursday approved six measures to overhaul health care services administered by the Veterans Affairs Department.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 10

What was Jesse Ventura’s professional wrestling nickname?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

Rasmussen Reports says Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., has opened a commanding lead over his Republican opponent, former Rep. Dick Zimmer. In seeking his 5th term, the 84-year-old incumbent leads Zimmer 49 percent to 36 percent, according to the latest Rasmussen survey in New Jersey. “Last month, the two candidates were virtual[ly] tied, with Lautenberg on top by just a single percentage point,” according to Rasmussen. “That poll was taken just days after Lautenberg survived a primary challenge that raised questions about whether he was too old to serve.” Still, the new survey shows that despite his lead, Lautenberg’s support is below 50 percent. “Any incumbent who polls below 50 [percent] is considered potentially vulnerable.”

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that nine-term Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., likely will face at least five Democratic challengers in the September primary. Jefferson, who filed for reelection Wednesday, faces federal corruption and bribery charges and is awaiting trial. His “legal troubles will be the ubiquitous thread that binds every aspect of the campaign leading up to the Sept. 6 Democratic primary,” the paper reports. Currently, Jefferson faces former television news anchor Helena Moreno, former New Orleans City Councilman Troy Carter, New Orleans City Councilman James Carter, state Rep. Cedric Richmond, and Jefferson Parish Councilman Byron Lee. The field could expand. Qualifying continues until Friday at 5 p.m.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that University of New Mexico’s men’s basketball coach Steve Alford says his planned appearance at a fundraiser for New Mexico’s 1st District Republican candidate Darren White is being falsely advertised. White’s congressional campaign offered supporters the chance to have their photo taken with Alford for $1,000. “Now, University of New Mexico athletics vice president Paul Krebs — who acknowledges he asked Alford to participate in the event — says Alford could be pulled from the lineup as political controversy roils,” the paper reports. Alford said he agreed to appear at the event in July 16, but he had no intention of endorsing anyone running for the 1st District seat. White blamed Democratic political pressure on the university for the situation. White faces Democrat Martin Heinrich for the seat being vacated by Republican Heather A. Wilson.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NEW YORK CITY: City to Test Congestion Pricing for Parking Meters
NEW ORLEANS: Census: City Nation's Fastest-Growing
LOS ANGELES: Ex-Mayor Denies Knowledge of City Hall Bribery
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Mayor: Fast-Track Construction Projects
TEXAS: A.G.: Bible Course in Public Schools Constitutional
MASSACHUSETTS: Audit Slams Motor Vehicles Agency
CALIFORNIA: Fire Toll Tops 675,000 Acres

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, 2008 – 1:45 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Hoyer Backs Obey on Appropriations Deadlock
  • Senate Appropriators Take on Highway Trust Fund Shortfall
  • Senate Panel Approves Expanded Cuba Travel in Spending Bill
  • Senate Poised To Clear Electronic Surveillance Bill
  • State Department Official Downplays Iran’s Strategic Influence
  • Political Trivia for July 9
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Today in Washington

The House takes up a bill aimed at preserving White House e-mail; takes up a number of bills under suspension of the rules, including legislation that would address public housing and veterans’ housing.

The Senate is expected to clear an electronic surveillance overhaul.

The President  participates in the Group of Eight summit in Japan.

In Washington, Actor Kevin Costner attends a screening of the film, “Swing Vote,” which tells the story of Bud Johnson, and his daughter Molly and how they influence an election. The Center for American Progress (CAP) and Touchstone Pictures sponsor the screening. 7 p.m., E Street Cinema, 555 11th Street N.W.

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Top Stories

Hoyer Backs Obey on Appropriations Deadlock

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., indicated Wednesday that it was unlikely that the House would move appropriations bills, echoing the sentiments of Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis.  [Read More]

Senate Appropriators Take on Highway Trust Fund Shortfall

Senate appropriators Wednesday approved a draft transportation spending bill that includes money to cover the $4 billion shortfall in the federal Highway Trust Fund, rejecting a House decision not to address the issue.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Approves Expanded Cuba Travel in Spending Bill

A Senate panel Wednesday approved a $44.8 billion fiscal 2009 spending bill, which includes a controversial provision to expand family travel to Cuba.  [Read More]

Senate Poised To Clear Electronic Surveillance Bill

Senators Wednesday were on the verge of clearing an overhaul of electronic surveillance rules after easily defeating three amendments aimed at a provision that would effectively wipe out lawsuits against companies allegedly involved in warrantless spying.  [Read More]

State Department Official Downplays Iran’s Strategic Influence

On the same day Iran test-fired missiles in a show of force in the Persian Gulf, the Bush administration Wednesday sought to downplay the country’s power and influence.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 9

How many vice presidents did not serve out a full term to which they were elected?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that John Kennedy, a Republican challenging Sen. Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana, says his recent switch from the Democratic party is inconsequential to his campaign. Kennedy, the state treasurer, ran for the Senate as a Democrat in 2004. “Party has never been the most important thing in my life,” said Kennedy, who switched to the GOP last year. Democrats, meanwhile, label Kennedy “a political opportunist.” Kennedy said his endorsement of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. for president in 2004 was a mistake. He is touting his fiscally conservative approach, even when a Democrat. The state primary is Sept. 6.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, appears to have a solid lead over her Democratic rival, Rep. Tom Allen, in a June poll. The survey showed some 56 percent of those who said they plan to vote this fall prefer Collins, compared to 31 percent for Allen. But Allen’s campaign noted that other polls show a closer race and attributed any Collins advantage to greater name recognition. A Rasmussen Reports poll, also conducted in June, showed Collins leading Allen by 49 percent to 42 percent.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
OHIO: Out-of-State Vets to Get In-State Tuition Rate
HAWAII: Scientists: Reef Fish Rapidly Disappearing
CALIFORNIA: 1,000 Evacuated by 38,000-Acre Fire
SEATTLE: Mayor Targets Fortress-Like Townhomes
NORTH MIAMI: City Hall Moving to Four-Day Week
PHILADELPHIA: City to Enforce Lost-Gun Reporting Mandate

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, JULY 8, 2008 – 2:22 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Panel Approves Energy-Water Spending
  • House Panel Threatens Attorney General With Contempt
  • Amendments To Electronic Spying Bill Doomed, But Senate Debate Continues
  • Commission Proposes Formal Role for Congress in War Decisions
  • Political Clippings
  • Political Trivia for July 8
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Today in Washington

The House takes up a number of bills under suspension of the rules, including one to prohibit harvesting of shark fins and a measure addressing air pollution from oceangoing vessels.

The Senate resumes consideration of an electronic surveillance bill, with three amendments slated for debate.

The President  participates in the Group of Eight summit in Japan.

In Washington, former Secretary of State, retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, addresses a Next America Project, “A New Vision for America’s Future: Young Leaders Shaping an International Agenda.” 5 p.m., 1800 K St. N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate Panel Approves Energy-Water Spending

Senate appropriators aligned with the House Tuesday in rejecting proposed cuts by President Bush and boosting spending for renewable-energy and energy efficiency programs in their 2009 draft spending bill for energy and water programs.  [Read More]

House Panel Threatens Attorney General With Contempt

A House panel Tuesday threatened Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey with contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena demanding FBI reports of an interview of Vice President Dick Cheney regarding the disclosure of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s covert status.  [Read More]

Amendments To Electronic Spying Bill Doomed, But Senate Debate Continues

The Senate Tuesday resumed consideration of a rewrite of electronic surveillance guidelines and began debate on several apparently doomed amendments.  [Read More]

Commission Proposes Formal Role for Congress in War Decisions

Two former secretaries of State unveiled a plan Tuesday to require better consultation between Congress and the president over sending U.S. troops into war.  [Read More]

Political Clippings

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., raised more than $2.1 million for his U.S. Senate campaign during the last three months. A spokesman for the GOP candidate, Rep. Steve Pearce, said that his campaign would disclose its fundraising on July 15, the deadline for submitting campaign finance reports. The newspaper says Pearce “has been at a major financial disadvantage since the outset of the Senate campaign.” Unlike Udall, Pearce faced “a hard-fought and close primary battle.” Udall has raised about $5 million for his Senate bid. Pearce, as of May 14, had reported raising more than $1.8 million.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 8

How many times have the Democrats and Republicans held their conventions in the same city?  [Read More]

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
SAN FRANCISCO: Mayor: Speed Up Seismic Retrofits
MICHIGAN: Court: State May Owe Schools Millions for Data Reporting
CALIFORNIA: Firefighters Still Gaining on Two Blazes

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Monday, July 07, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, JULY 7, 2008 – 2:08 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate GOP Postpones Weekly Lunches for Helms Funeral
  • Immigration Not Key to Winning Hispanic Vote: Experts
  • Political Trivia for July 7
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Today in Washington

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

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. to consider the housing package.

The President  participates in the Group of Eight summit in Japan.

In Washington, the League of United Latin American Citizens holds its national convention, highlighting the importance of Latino voters in determining the next president. Opening reception, 6 p.m., then through July 11. Washington Hilton & Towers, 1919 Connecticut Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate GOP Postpones Weekly Lunches for Helms Funeral

Senate Republicans have decided to postpone their weekly all-conference lunches to allow members to attend the funeral Tuesday of former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, who died July 4 at the age of 86.  [Read More]

Immigration Not Key to Winning Hispanic Vote: Experts

Hispanic voters have become a key target in this year’s presidential race, courted heavily by both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for July 7

Who was the last Democratic vice presidential nominee announced during convention week?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

McClatchy reports that Rep. Don Young is tapping a group of more than 20 lobbyists, including former Young staffers and retired former congressmen, to help raise funds for his re-election. Chief of staff Mike Anderson e-mailed the group, warning that they and their clients will be affected if Democrats knock off the veteran Alaska Republican.Democrat Diane Benson is vying for Young’s seat. Since the e-mail was sent June 8, 2007, “Young has received more than $90,000 from the e-mail recipients, their lobbying firms or clients of their firms. That is nearly a quarter of the roughly $400,000 raised by Young and his Midnight Sun Political Action Committee over the same period through the first quarter of this year.”

The Deseret Morning News reports that Republican Jason Chaffetz says he won’t move into Utah’s 3rd District, where he is the party’s House nominee. Chaffetz’s nonresidency was an issue in June’s primary election, in which he defeated incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon 60 percent to 40 percent. “It would have been a lot easier to tell people that I plan to move, but I don’t,” Chaffetz said. “We love Alpine. We plan to be ‘lifers’ there. The kids love their school.” Still, Chaffetz is expected to easily defeat Democratic nominee Bennion L. Spencer in the GOP-dominated district.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
CHICAGO: Grand Plan to Transform Public Housing Falters
HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind.: County Tops Family-Friendly Rankings
THE NATION: Oil Spike Boosting Public Pension Funds
CALIFORNIA: Firefighters Gaining on Two Blazes
MARYLAND: Statewide Development Plan in the Works
MASSACHUSETTS: As Red Tide Recedes, Clams Return

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