Thursday, December 24, 2009

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Thursday, December 24, 2009 –

In This Issue

  • Note to Readers
  • Senate Passage of Health Bill Sets Stage for Talks With House
  • Kennedy Tributes and Humorous Relief Punctuate Vote
  • Debt Limit Raised for Now But Congress Must Act Again Soon
  • Senate Adjourns, Bringing First Session to a Close
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate has passed its health care overhaul legislation and adjourned for the year.

The President has called senators to thank them for passing the health care bill; called members of the armed forces to thank them for their service; departed with his family on a holiday trip to Hawaii.

In Washington, the Capitol has emptied out as the first session of the 111th Congress has ended.

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Top Stories

Note to Readers

The next edition of the Midday Update will be published on Monday, Jan. 4. In the meantime, we wish you safe travels and happy holidays.

Senate Passage of Health Bill Sets Stage for Talks With House

After well over a year of planning, markups, closed-door negotiations and floor action, the 60-39 party-line vote advanced what could become the largest expansion of the government's role in social policy since Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society programs. [Read More]

Kennedy Tributes and Humorous Relief Punctuate Vote

Both high drama and comic relief permeated the Senate's early morning vote on a health care overhaul that kept lawmakers in session into Christmas Eve. [Read More]

Debt Limit Raised for Now But Congress Must Act Again Soon

With the government bumping up against its borrowing limit, the Senate on Thursday passed a $290 billion increase in the federal debt limit. [Read More]

Senate Adjourns, Bringing First Session to a Close

After a session that dragged into Christmas Eve for the first time since 1963, the Senate finally adjourned at 10:19 a.m. Thursday. [Read More]

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Wednesday, December 23, 2009 – 2:15 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Democrats Preparing to Sell Voters on Health Bill
  • Iowa Senator Slaps Hold on Treasury Nominees in Jab at IRS
  • Senate Clears Bill Extending Trade Preference Programs
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Today in Washington

The House meets briefly in pro forma session.

The Senate continues to debate its health care overhaul legislation, voting on a series of procedural motions that will set up a final passage vote at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

The President tapes interviews with National Public Radio's Julie Rovner and Robert Siegel, and with the Public Broadcasting System's Jim Lehrer.

In Washington, artisans sell toys, ornaments and other gifts at the Downtown Holiday Market craft fair in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery's F Street entrance, until 8 p.m.

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Top Stories

Democrats Preparing to Sell Voters on Health Bill

Senate Democrats are poised to accomplish something this week that Congress seldom attempts: passing partisan legislation in the face of what appears to be substantial public opposition. That means they will have to convince Americans that the health care overhaul bill is good for them. [Read More]

Iowa Senator Slaps Hold on Treasury Nominees in Jab at IRS

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, irritated by several Internal Revenue Service rulings, said Wednesday that he will hold up all Treasury Department nominees until his concerns are addressed. [Read More]

Senate Clears Bill Extending Trade Preference Programs

The Senate has sent President Obama legislation that would extend expiring trade preference programs for one year. The bill would extend two trade agreements, the Andean trade preference program and the generalized system of preferences, until Dec. 31, 2010. [Read More]
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Political Clippings

The Miami Herald reports that "Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart have pulled their endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate, dealing his campaign a significant blow in South Florida's Hispanic community." The move by the brothers, "a rarity in politics, comes at a time Crist is steadily losing ground in the polls to former House Speaker Marco Rubio of Miami. Without the well-known Diaz-Balarts to campaign with him in their heavily Hispanic districts, Crist has lost key allies on his Senate rival's home turf."

The Wilkes Barre Times Leader reports that "Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk has announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District." He is the first Republican to enter the race. Two other names have surfaced in the 10th District – state Rep. Mike Peifer of Greentown in Pike County and former U.S. Attorney Thomas Marino of Lycoming County.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Tuesday, December 22, 2009 – 2:30 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Democrats Push Closer to Passage of Health Care Bill
  • Republicans Lodge Constitutional Challenge to Health Bill
  • Burris Brings a Verse of Holiday Cheer to Senate Floor
  • Senate Finance Leaders Vow Early Action on Tax 'Extenders'
  • Parker Griffith to Switch Parties
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate continues to debate its health care overhaul legislation after adopting a manager's amendment and voting to limit debate on a substitute amendment underlying it.

The President receives daily briefings; meets with CEOs of several small and community banks to discuss need to increase lending to small businesses; meets with members of the National Economic Council.

In Washington, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations hosts discussion with its founding president and chief executive officer, Dr. John Duke Anthony, on the recent Gulf Cooperation Council's Ministerial and Heads of State Summit in Kuwait. 3-4:30 p.m., Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, 1875 K Street, NW.

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Top Stories

Democrats Push Closer to Passage of Health Care Bill

Their goal in sight, Senate Democrats powered through more procedural votes early Tuesday on their march toward passage of a comprehensive health care overhaul. [Read More]

Republicans Lodge Constitutional Challenge to Health Bill

John Ensign, R-Nev., lodged a constitutional point of order against the health care legislation on Tuesday, claiming its mandate that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty falls outside the scope of congressional powers and violates the Fifth Amendment. [Read More]

Burris Brings a Verse of Holiday Cheer to Senate Floor

The prospect of a Christmas Eve vote to pass a health care bill had Illinois Democrat Roland W. Burris waxing poetic on the floor Tuesday morning with a set of verses in the style of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas." [Read More]

Senate Finance Leaders Vow Early Action on Tax 'Extenders'

Senate tax writers promised Tuesday to deal retroactively in 2010 with a package of stalled tax cut extensions that include the corporate research and development tax credit, credits for biodiesel production and other provisions set to expire Dec. 31. [Read More]

Parker Griffith to Switch Parties

Freshman Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama will announce his intent this afternoon to switch parties and join the Republican caucus. Griffith's party switch adds to the House Democrats' woes in the South. [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the Democrats' push for a health care overhaul could hurt Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., according to a new poll released Monday. Rasmussen Reports "found Gov. John Hoeven leading Dorgan by 22 points — 58 percent to 36 percent with 6 percent undecided. But Hoeven, who has admitted some interest in the race, hasn't announced a bid for the Senate." Democrats dismissed the survey. "This is a recruitment poll of questionable accuracy," said Mark Schneider, chair of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party. If Hoeven does not run, the poll showed, "Dorgan will have a much easier re-election." He leads announced GOP contender Duane Sand by 52 percent to 37 percent.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, a Democrat, said Monday he is assessing a possible run for governor next year and "will spend the next month assessing whether he can raise enough money and generate enough support" to mount a bid. A former state legislator, Bernero "remains unknown to most state voters; 81% said they'd never heard of him in a poll released last week." Lt. Gov. John Cherry is the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, which includes several other contenders.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Midday Update for Monday, December 21, 2009 –

In This Issue

  • Republicans Keep Senate Talking About Health Care, for Now
  • Special Deals Sprinkled Throughout Final Health Care Bill
  • Increase in Debt Ceiling Awaits Senate After Health Care Vote
  • DNC Trails Republican Party in Latest Fund Reports
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate continues to work on a health care overhaul bill.

The President met with the National Economic Council; met with SAVE Award winner Nancy Fichtner of Colorado;made remarks on government efficiency with OMB Director Peter Orszag and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki; meeting later with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In Washington, federal government offices are closed, along with all local public schools, as the metropolitan area digs out from a record-setting weekend blizzard.

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Top Stories

Republicans Keep Senate Talking About Health Care, for Now

Democratic leaders expressed confidence Monday that their pre-dawn victory on a procedural vote paves the way for passage of their health care overhaul bill before Christmas. But Republicans appear unlikely to expedite the process, at least for now. [Read More]

Special Deals Sprinkled Throughout Final Health Care Bill

The most intriguing mystery of the Senate's health bill was on page 328 of the final package of amendments assembled by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., under a subject heading innocuously titled "infrastructure to expand access to care." [Read More]

Increase in Debt Ceiling Awaits Senate After Health Care Vote

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., says it is "entirely up to" Republicans whether the Senate has to return to Washington between Christmas and New Year's to clear an increase in the debt ceiling. [Read More]

DNC Trails Republican Party in Latest Fund Reports

The Democratic National Committee raised $5.9 million in November, according to a report it filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission. But it trailed the its GOP counterpart. [Read More]
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Political Clippings

The Wheeling Intelligencer reports that local architect David McKinley is weighing a challenge to Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.Va., next year. McKinley met with National Republican Congressional Committee members last week "about a potential run in West Virginia's 1st District. He added that an announcement regarding his plans should occur before the end of 2009." A former state delegate, McKinley is also a past chairman of the state Republican Party. The NRCC is likely to target Mollohan next year amid rumors of an FBI investigation into his finances. A number of other Republicans are also lining up for Mollohan's seat.

According to the Boston Herald, candidates "vying to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will take to the airwaves this week for the first debates of the general election -- and all eyes will be on GOP contender Scott Brown as he introduces himself to voters." Republican strategists see a chance for Brown to appeal to independent voters in a state dominated by Democrats. A state senator, Brown is the underdog in his race against Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Also expected to debate is long-shot candidate Joseph L. Kennedy (no relation to the Bay State dynasty), a 38-year-old State Street exec" who is unaffiliated with either party. The first debate is "set for tonight at 8 on the Dan Rea radio show, WBZ-AM."

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