Tuesday, December 23, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, DEC. 23, 2008 – 2:17 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Note to Readers
  • Biden Sets ‘No Earmarks’ Rule for Stimulus Package
  • Bush Signs Bill To Ease Pension Funding, IRA Withdrawal Rules
  • Public Ports Call for Share of the Stimulus Package
  • Centrists a Growing Force in Senate’s Democratic Majority
  • Political Trivia for Dec. 23
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate meets in pro forma session.

President Bush departs Washington en route to Camp David.

President-Elect Barack Obama is on vacation in Hawaii.

In Washington, the annual sing-along performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” with the Opera House Orchestra and 200-voice choir, takes place at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m. Free ticket distribution (one per person in line) starts at 6 p.m. in front of the Concert Hall.

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Top Stories

Note to Readers

The next edition of the CQ Today Midday update will be published on Monday, Dec. 29. We wish all of our readers safe travel and happy holidays.  [Read More]

Biden Sets ‘No Earmarks’ Rule for Stimulus Package

Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. pointedly warned Congress on Tuesday not to include earmarks in the huge economic stimulus package now under development.  [Read More]

Bush Signs Bill To Ease Pension Funding, IRA Withdrawal Rules

President Bush signed a bill Tuesday to ease pension-funding rules for companies and give retirees a reprieve from required withdrawals from their tax-advantaged investment accounts.  [Read More]

Public Ports Call for Share of the Stimulus Package

The nation’s public ports, following the lead of the highway, airline and transit industries, are asking for $6.8 billion for harbor maintenance in the ever growing economic recovery package.  [Read More]

Centrists a Growing Force in Senate’s Democratic Majority

When Congress allowed a moratorium on offshore oil drilling to expire this fall, the Democratic majority’s intent was clear: It was a temporary move to silence Republicans who’d been hammering them over high gas prices, and the decision would likely be revisited come January.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Dec. 23

Who had the longest tenure in the New York Senate seat held by Hillary Rodham Clinton?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier reports that “a Federal Election Commission audit of Sen. Jim DeMint’s 2004 run for office found two violations, and DeMint’s campaign has agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty and to refund $5,000 in contributions given in excess of federal limits.” A spokesman for the Republican senator said the campaign cooperated fully with the federal audit and is glad to have the issues resolved.

The New York Daily News reports that Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched into a spirited defense of Senate hopeful Caroline Kennedy, who some Democrats say is not qualified. “The fact that she comes from a family with an illustrious history of service to this country, you certainly shouldn’t hold it against her,” the mayor said. The newspaper reports that Democratic Rep. Gary L. Ackerman “sharpened the tone of the criticism ... when he said Kennedy has been ‘Palin-ized’ — sold as a dazzling package and protected from tough media scrutiny.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: States Putting Public-Works Projects on Hold
TEXAS: Medicaid Coverage Extended for 34,000 Kids
MINNEAPOLIS: Violent Crime Down 24 Percent Since 2006
THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA: Region Gets Three Years to Clean Air
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.: Inoperative Battery Brings Nuclear-Plant Scrutiny

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Monday, December 22, 2008

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, DEC. 22, 2008 – 1:45 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Economic Recovery Bill Could Be First of Several To Move in January
  • Aviation Industry Joins Plea for Stimulus Funds
  • Bush’s Former Deputy Attorney General Endorses Holder
  • Political Trivia for Dec. 22
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate is not in session.

President Bush with Mrs. Bush, visits One Warm Coat Holiday Service Project; visits Walter Reed Army Medical Center

President-Elect Barack Obama is on vacation in Hawaii.

In Washington, Moment Magazine and the Foundation for Jewish Culture host the Emerging Jewish Writers Awards. Recipients include 98-year-old Harry Bernstein and 35-year-old Russian-born novelist Anya Ulinich. 6:30 p.m., 1000 H St., N.W.

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Top Stories

Economic Recovery Bill Could Be First of Several To Move in January

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are in discussions with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team to determine how much legislation they want to move in the early days after Congress convenes Jan. 6.  [Read More]

Aviation Industry Joins Plea for Stimulus Funds

Virtually every sector of the aviation industry is pressing an expansive request for help in the upcoming economic stimulus bill, including proposals some groups have sought for a long time.  [Read More]

Bush’s Former Deputy Attorney General Endorses Holder

Facing questions about his role in a controversial last-minute 2001 pardon by President Bill Clinton, Attorney General-designate Eric H. Holder Jr. is getting some unexpected support from across the aisle.  [Read More]

Political Trivia for Dec. 22

Who did not previously hold Barack Obama’s Senate seat?  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will allocate withdrawn ballot challenges to Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken Monday. And “on Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider Coleman’s claim that some votes in Franken strongholds were counted twice,” the newspaper reports. Both sides will try to devise a process for counting any absentee ballots that were mistakenly rejected. “Franken’s lead recount attorney, Marc Elias, predict[ed] that the Democrat would be leading by 35 to 50 votes after Ritchie allocates withdrawn challenges,” the newspaper reports. “Coleman spokesman Mark Drake dismissed the claim at ‘just more bluster and hot air.’”

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Republican Sen. David Vitter likely will seek re-election in 2010. Vitter “held a Washington fundraiser where he gained $200,000 for his campaign,” the newspaper reports. “Maybe more important for Vitter was the collection of support he got from high-profile Louisiana Republicans.” Gov. Bobby Jindal, four of the state’s Republican House members and six former Republican congressmen sponsored the event. Vitter appears to be seeking reelection despite his involvement last year in a Washington prostitution scandal.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already has begun a strong fundraising push to ward off an expected GOP challenge in 2010. As of the end of October, Reid had $2.75 million in his election fund. “As a motivator, Reid called on the ghost of Tom Daschle, the Senate’s previous Democratic leader,” the newspaper reports. “Daschle was taken by surprise when Republicans mounted a full-court press in South Dakota and defeated him in 2004. ‘I will not let them do it again,’ Reid wrote. ‘If Republicans think I am scared of their challenge, they don’t know the fight they are in for.’”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
ILLINOIS: Blagojevich Fundraiser Seeks Immunity
WASHINGTON STATE: Feds: Proposed Reservoir Too Costly
MASSACHUSETTS: Key Big Dig Player Named Transportation Secretary
THE NATION: Levee Repairs Lagging Nationwide
SAN FRANCISCO: Police Chief to Retire
NEW YORK CITY: Mayor Drops $20 Million Plan to Revamp Senior Centers
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Probes Set for Boards that Govern Charter Schools

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