Friday, October 23, 2009

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Friday, October 23, 2009 –

In This Issue

  • House Democrats Sorting Out Status of 'Public Option'
  • Pelosi Moving to Close Medicare 'Doughnut Hole'
  • House Passes Coast Guard Authorization Bill
  • Six-Month Highway Bill Extension Now Likely in Senate
  • Second Stopgap Spending Measure Likely to Stand on Its Own
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Today in Washington

The House adjourned after passing a Coast Guard authorization bill.

The Senate is not in session

The President toured a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research laboratory. Speaks at fundraiser for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, then travels to Connecticut to attend a fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Christopher J. Dodd. Returns to Washington tonight.

In Washington, the School of Advanced International Studies holds a discussion, "Solving the Mystery of King Tut's Death," with W. Benson Harer Jr. 6:30 p.m. 1619 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

House Democrats Sorting Out Status of 'Public Option'

House Democratic leaders may have determined they don't have enough votes for their preferred version of the "public option," a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers. [Read More]

Pelosi Moving to Close Medicare 'Doughnut Hole'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made another bid to solidify support for Democrats' ambitious health care plans Friday, pledging to move aggressively to close the "doughnut hole" in Medicare drug coverage. [Read More]

House Passes Coast Guard Authorization Bill

The House voted to authorize $10 billion for Coast Guard programs for the current fiscal year. The fate of the bill now lies in the Senate, where it has run into a dead end in recent years. The agency was last authorized in 2006. [Read More]

Six-Month Highway Bill Extension Now Likely in Senate

The Senate is scrapping plans for an 18-month extension of surface transportation law and is now working instead on a six-month extension, a Democratic aide and industry officials confirmed Friday. [Read More]

Second Stopgap Spending Measure Likely to Stand on Its Own

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said he expects the House to consider a stand-alone stopgap funding measure next week to keep the government operating past Oct. 31. [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the largest labor union in the state, announced Thursday that it will back Rep. Michael E. Capuano in the four-way Democratic primary to fill the Senate seat of Edward M. Kennedy, "giving Capuano one of the most significant union endorsements in the race." Union president Anne Wass cited Capuano’s "strong pro-education track record along with a deep understanding of the challenges facing urban public schools" as key factors in the decision to recommend him in the Dec. 8 primary to its 107,000 members, according to the newspaper. The other candidates in the race are state Attorney General Martha Coakley; Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca; and Alan Khazei, a cofounder of the organization City Year.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire reports that a new Public Policy Polling survey in Maine finds "the only thing that's clear about next year's race for Governor of Maine is that everything is unclear." The survey organization adds: "Maine might have the most wide open gubernatorial contest in the whole country for 2010. A Democrat could win, a Republican could win, an independent or third party candidate could win. And there are a lot of different people who could win within each of those categories as well. It's going to be a bit of a free for all, and that will make it an interesting contest to watch."

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Thursday, October 22, 2009 – 2:06 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Auditors Spotlight Questionable Claims for Homebuyer Tax Credit
  • Hate Crimes Expansion on Verge of Final Passage
  • Senate Poised To Send Defense Bill to Obama
  • Consumer Financial Protection Agency Advances
  • Pelosi Says Antitrust Repeal Will Be in Health Care Overhaul
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Today in Washington

The House considers a bill to boost solar technology research and begins debating a Coast Guard authorization bill.

The Senate moves toward adoption of the conference report on the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill, with final vote expected late in the day.

The President meets with Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, via video conference; meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for lunch; signs the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act; meets with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner; meets with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; meets with Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va; meets with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.

In Washington, the National Association of Elementary School Principals hosts a banquet honoring 63 elementary and middle school principals, with guest speaker Education Secretary Arne Duncan. 6 p.m., Capital Hilton, 16th and K St., N.W.

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Top Stories

Auditors Spotlight Questionable Claims for Homebuyer Tax Credit

As Congress considers extending and expanding a tax credit for first-time homebuyers, government auditors raised significant questions Thursday about the administration of the tax break, warning that thousands of ineligible recipients are claiming the credit. [Read More]

Hate Crimes Expansion on Verge of Final Passage

After a decade-long battle, Congress is on the verge of expanding federal hate crimes law to cover offenses based on sexual orientation. [Read More]

Senate Poised To Send Defense Bill to Obama

The Senate is expected to send the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill to President Obama late Thursday, and he is likely to sign it despite objections to its funding for a controversial backup jet fighter engine. [Read More]

Consumer Financial Protection Agency Advances

The House Financial Services Committee voted to approve legislation Thursday to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, advancing a major piece of the Obama administration's agenda for overhauling financial regulations. [Read More]

Pelosi Says Antitrust Repeal Will Be in Health Care Overhaul

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said for the first time Thursday that the health care legislation she expects to bring to the floor next month will include a provision stripping the health insurance industry of its federal antitrust exemption. [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Reno Gazette Journal reports that former Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle "formally launched her bid for U.S. Senate on Wednesday, saying she is the only one in the crowded Republican primary with a consistent conservative record." Angle is among about a dozen Republicans vying to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., next year, a list that includes former Nevada Republican Chairwoman Sue Lowden. "Angle said her candidacy aims to restore the Republican Party to a grass-roots constituency clamoring for a return to the mantra of 'lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom.' ... 'The state party as a whole is in shambles,' Angle said in an oblique swipe at" Lowden. "Part of the reason was the message was so conflicted and confused there wasn't a strong messenger to say this is the party of lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom.

According to the Birmingham News, former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington has endorsed Ron Sparks for the Democratic nomination for governor, "snubbing in the process his hometown congressman, Rep. Artur Davis. Arrington, Birmingham's first black mayor, called Sparks, who is white, the most qualified leader to guide Alabama in hard economic times." Arrington "acknowledged that his endorsement of Sparks might come as a surprise to some, given the historic nature of Davis' campaign - he's attempting to become Alabama's first black governor - and Arrington's history of having crashed racial barriers when he became Birmingham mayor in 1979. 'I think this election is not about race but about leadership,' Arrington said."

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CQ Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Wednesday, October 21, 2009 2:10 p.m.

In This Issue

  • 'Robust' Public Insurance Option May Have House Majority
  • Fed Chairman Opposes Change in Effective Date of Credit Card Law
  • Obama Seeking Increased Government Loans to Small Businesses
  • Ryan White AIDS Law Renewed
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Today in Washington

The House clears a bill to extend HIV/AIDS treatment programs, and votes on a number of minor resolutions.

The Senate votes on a judicial nomination as well as a procedural motion on a bill to freeze Medicare physician pay rates.

The President meets with senior advisers, meets with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; announces initiatives aimed at increasing loans to small businesses; attends closed Cabinet-level earthquake tabletop exercise at the Treasury Department; speaks at evening rally for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey; returns to the White House.

In Washington, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Lisa Henson, CEO of the Jim Henson Company, join local school children for a screening of "Sid the Science Kid" special episode on the flu. 4:30 p.m., Auditorium, Education Dept., 400 Maryland Ave. S.W.

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Top Stories

'Robust' Public Insurance Option May Have House Majority

House Democrats are "right around" the 218 votes needed to pass a health care overhaul bill that includes a "robust" public insurance option, according to a member of the leadership. [Read More]

Fed Chairman Opposes Change in Effective Date of Credit Card Law

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Wednesday that moving up the effective date of a new credit card law could benefit consumers but would strain small credit providers and cause other problems. [Read More]

Obama Seeking Increased Government Loans to Small Businesses

The Obama administration will ask Congress to increase limits on government loans to small businesses to help accelerate an economic recovery, senior administration officials said Wednesday. [Read More]

Ryan White AIDS Law Renewed

Legislation to reauthorize the Ryan White Act, which regulates the primary federal assistance program for low-income AIDS and HIV patients, is headed for President Obama's desk. [Read More]
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Political Clippings

The Boston Globe reports that in the special election contest to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., "Stephen Pagliuca has carved out a niche in the Democratic field as the wealthy businessman vowing to use his corporate experience to help create jobs in Massachusetts and beyond." But Pagliuca, a co-owner of the Boston Celtics with 20 years' experience in private equity, also faces risks, "particularly in a Democratic primary dominated by liberal voters and activists, whose ideals and policies at times clash with those of corporate America. Critics, including his three opponents in the primary, will surely seize on the jobs his deals have lost, his shrewd maneuvering in the business world, and the decisions he has made along the way."

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a new poll released Tuesday shows Sen. David Vitter, R-La., with a double-digit lead over Democratic challenger, Rep. Charlie Melancon, 47.6 percent to 35.8 percent, with 16.6 percent undecided. "The poll suggested that Melancon has room to grow. About 36 percent of respondents gave him a good or excellent rating, while 41.5 percent said they were either not familiar with him or had no answer. Vitter received a 57 percent favorability rating, with only 5.5 percent of respondents saying they were not familiar with him or had no answer."

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CQ Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Tuesday, October 20, 2009 2 p.m.

In This Issue

  • HUD Secretary Hedges on Extension of Homebuyer Tax Credit
  • Extension of Jobless Benefits Tangled Up With Homebuyer Tax Credit
  • Military Reverses Ban on Publicizing Fatal War Photos
  • Hoyer Seeks Crackdown on Securities Short-Selling
  • Open House Seats: Democrats Starting Strong
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Today in Washington

The House reconvenes after a long weekend to vote on minor bills and resolutions.

The Senate is expected to clear the fiscal 2010 Homeland Security spending bill.

The President meets with Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq, holds recognition ceremony to honor Troop A, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Combat Regiment of the Army -- recipients of the Presidential Unit Citation for Actions in Vietnam in 1970; travels to New York City for tour and remarks at the Joint Terrorism Task Force Headquarters; attends fundraisers for Bill Owens, Democratic candidate in New York's 23rd District special election; attends Democratic National Committee fundraiser; returns to the White House.

In Washington, Catholic University's Columbus School of Law hosts a panel discussion on "The Future of Consumer Finance Regulation." 5 p.m., National Press Club

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Top Stories

HUD Secretary Hedges on Extension of Homebuyer Tax Credit

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan equivocated Tuesday on whether Congress should extend an expiring tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He acknowledged congressional support for an extension but did not endorse it himself. [Read More]

Extension of Jobless Benefits Tangled Up With Homebuyer Tax Credit

Legislation to extend unemployment benefits has become entangled with a bipartisan effort to extend a popular tax break for first-time homebuyers. [Read More]

Military Reverses Ban on Publicizing Fatal War Photos

The U.S. military command in eastern Afghanistan has rescinded a ban on the publication of photos depicting slain U.S. military personnel, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday. [Read More]

Hoyer Seeks Crackdown on Securities Short-Selling

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday he is introducing legislation that would crack down on the longstanding but controversial Wall Street practice of short-selling stock. [Read More]

Open House Seats: Democrats Starting Strong

Democratic strategists are bracing for losses in the 2010 midterm elections, but the party has shown early fundraising strength in some open House districts they hope to wrest from Republican control and while offsetting expected defeats elsewhere in the nation. [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Boston Herald reports that the Federal Election Commission has "launched an official review into claims that Attorney General Martha Coakley improperly used her state campaign funds to ramp up her Senate bid weeks before U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died." The FEC is reviewing a state GOP complaint that Coakley "used state funds on her federal race -- a violation of election laws." Massachusetts GOP spokeswoman Tarah Donoghue said, "Coakley is clearly trying to avoid questions on this matter, but she won't be able to avoid the FEC." The Democratic candidate has 15 days to respond to the GOP complaint.

The Brainerd Dispatch/Associated Press reports that Minnesota officials are asking "that the legions of state residents who go south for the winter make sure the Census Bureau counts them as Minnesotans." Worried that the state could lose one of its eight House seats if the census fails to count its "snowbirds," officials are urging those migrants to ignore census mailings to their winter homes and wait to fill out the forms once they return to Minnesota next spring.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, "Five years after Republican Richard Burr and his Democratic opponent, Erskine Bowles, spent $26million to tell Tar Heel voters why the other fellow was unfit for the U.S. Senate, the old rivals now can't find enough nice things to say about each other." The two exchanged compliments at a Monday conference on economics and education; Bowles, who lost to Burr in 2004, is now president of the University of North Carolina system. "Monday's event was typical of Burr's style of campaigning while seeming not to campaign. Burr not only invited his old political rival to be a key speaker, but he also held his conference at a historically black campus in what may be the most Democratic city in the state."

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Monday, October 19, 2009

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Monday, October 19, 2009 –

In This Issue

  • Reid Acts Lax As Race Heats Up
  • U.S. Chamber Targeted With Cap-and-Trade Press Release Hoax
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate is considering legislation on Medicare payments to physicians.

The President met with winners of the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge; meets this afternoon with senior advisers and later with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

In Washington, The American Legacy Foundation and Howard University Hospital explore the public health impact of mentholated tobacco products. The foundation's event is all day at the Academy of Educational Development, 1825 Connecticut Ave. N.W.; the hospital's event is at 7:30 p.m. in its Towers Auditorium, 2041 Georgia Ave. N.W.

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Top Stories

Reid Acts Lax As Race Heats Up

Even as Harry Reid jets off for high-profile fundraisers with the vice president and launches his first round of campaign ads at home, the powerful Senate Majority Leader continues to appear nonchalant in the halls of the Capitol about the danger of losing his seat next year. [Read More]

U.S. Chamber Targeted With Cap-and-Trade Press Release Hoax

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has not reversed itself to support strong cap-and-trade climate change legislation, contrary to a spoofed press release issued Monday. [Read More]
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Political Clippings

According to the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., "Overall, the financial numbers indicate strongly that the Senate primaries in both parties will be fully contested, arguably for the first time in Kentucky since U.S. senators were first popularly elected in 1914." The newspaper points to the more than $1 million raised in the third quarter of the year by Republican Rand Paul and the fact that another Republican candidate, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, had more than $1 million on hand as of Sept. 30. "On the Democratic side," according to the Courier-Journal, "some Democratic leaders' hope that Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo would get out of the race disappeared for good when Attorney General Jack Conway used vulgar language at the Aug. 1 Fancy Farm Picnic. But at the end of the quarter some statements of Mongiardo, apparently recorded surreptitiously and posted on the Internet, showed that he, too, can shoot off his mouth." Those two candidates each have more than $1 million in campaign cash, the newspaper reports.

The Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, Fla., reports that "U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio harbors no illusions about how hard a campaign he is embarking on." Speaking to Republicans in Sarasota last week, "Rubio said he can think of easier ways to make a name for himself in politics other than taking on Gov. Charlie Crist in a Republican primary," the newspaper reports. Rubio said: "Let me promise and assure you one thing: running against the governor of your own party, of your own state, is not the easiest step up the ladder." Rubio said he is motivated to take on Democrats in Washington. "I'm running for U.S. Senate because I disagree with them," he said. "I'm running for U.S. Senate because I believe the majority of Americans disagree with them."

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