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Obama expected to press Pakistan's Zardari on Taliban influence. Plus: Specter is stripped of his Senate seniority.

White House: Zardari To Meet With Obama

• "Pakistan's leaders began an arduous campaign" in Washington "on Tuesday to convince the United States that they will repel recent incursions by Taliban militant groups, secure their own nuclear arsenal and make good use of American military and economic assistance," the New York Times reports. Today, President Asif Ali Zardari "is to meet with President Obama, who is expected to press him to redouble Pakistan's campaign against militants who took over a key district 60 miles from Islamabad."

• "The Obama administration 'unambiguously' supports" Zardari, "even as it puts 'the most heavy possible pressure' on his government to fight extremists in the country, Richard C. Holbrooke, Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, told Congress," the Washington Post reports.


• "The Obama administration wants the United States to spend $63 billion over the next six years to fight global diseases and provide more aid for prenatal and postnatal care, children's health and fighting tropical diseases," AP reports. "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the plan is part of a foreign policy that leaves the United States in a more secure and stable relationship with poor countries by improving this country's image."

• "President Obama's first selection of a Supreme Court justice is being managed by a small group of senior advisers, and the process will last at least into next week before producing a candidate who the administration hopes will inject real-world experience into the nation's highest court," the Washington Post reports. "The selection of a small and very senior group of administration officials to help manage the nomination is designed, in part, to avoid the kinds of leaks that angered several Cabinet nominees during Obama's transition."

Congress: Specter Loses Seniority

• "The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats," the Washington Post reports. "In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate."


• "Frequently outmaneuvered by" Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., "Republicans are mounting a group effort to counterattack the Financial Services Committee chairman's legislative initiatives," The Hill reports. "Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus's (R-Ala.) revamped strategy of empowering his subcommittee ranking members was born out of necessity, according to several House Republicans."

• "Since joining the House Rules Committee last fall, Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.) has become a secret weapon for the Republican Party in complex legislative warfare, but she has also sometimes performed like a loose cannon," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Economy: Some Fear 'Stress Tests' Won't Hold Water

• "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in February that putting the nation's biggest banks through 'stress tests' was vital to getting the financial system back on solid ground," AP reports. "But with the results set to be released Thursday, critics say regulators seem so intent on avoiding statements that might undermine confidence in the banks that they risk eroding trust in the stress tests themselves."

• "The government has told Bank of America it needs $33.9 billion in capital to withstand any worsening of the economic downturn, according to an executive at the bank," the New York Times reports. "If the bank is unable to raise the capital cushion by selling assets or stock, it would have to rely on the government, which has provided $45 billion in capital through the Troubled Asset Relief Program."


National Security: Second U.S. Swine Flu Death

• "A woman living near the Mexican border in south Texas became the second person in the U.S. to die of a new strain of flu, as the virus causing it continued to spread around the globe," the Wall Street Journal reports. "U.S. health officials have warned that the number of deaths is likely to grow as the new H1N1 virus spreads across the country, even though they now believe the new flu isn't as severe as they initially feared."

• "A panel of defense information technology and intelligence officials told a House Armed Services panel Tuesday that it will take a tightly coordinated team effort by the military, the other federal agencies and the private sector to secure the nation's vital information networks from cyberattack," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "But, they conceded, there are no plans or processes in place to ensure that unified effort."

• "Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists say," the Washington Times reports. "The issue will likely come to a head when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mr. Obama on May 18 in Washington."

• "The Justice Department said it is nearing completion of an internal probe that is expected to recommend professional sanctions but no criminal prosecution for former department lawyers who authorized harsh Central Intelligence Agency interrogations," the Wall Street Journal reports. "John Yoo and Jay Bybee, Justice Department lawyers in the Bush administration who produced the memos, both responded to a draft version of the department's report by a Monday deadline."

Politics: D.C. Council Votes On Same-Sex Marriages

• "The D.C. Council on Tuesday agreed to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions, spurring chaos outside the council chambers and a warning from a councilman of impending 'civil war' if the District moves ahead with gay marriage legislation," the Washington Examiner reports. "The recognition measure passed, as expected, by a 12-1 vote, with only Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry dissenting."

• "Dave Bing began his Detroit journey in 1966 as a beloved basketball player before ascending to businessman and booster and now, to mayor of America's 11th largest city," the Detroit Free Press reports. "Bing's stunning victory by a 4-point margin in Tuesday's special mayoral election signaled the desire of Detroit voters to abandon the status quo of local politics."

Energy & Environment: 'Cash-For-Clunkers' Gains Steam

• "Consumers would get vouchers for as much as $4,500 from the government to trade in their gas-guzzling cars under a compromise plan that could help advance a broad measure to combat climate change," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The so-called cash-for-clunkers plan could be part of climate-change legislation being pieced together in the House. Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), a co-sponsor of the climate bill, said the auto deal -- forged by Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee and endorsed by" Obama -- "'demonstrates how representatives from both coasts and the Rust Belt can reach agreement on difficult issues.'"

• "House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday said he will likely skip a subcommittee markup on controversial cap-and-trade legislation, but added he still sees enough progress following a Tuesday meeting with" Obama "to get a climate change bill out of his committee this month," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "If history is any indication, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will become a thorn in the side of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) once committee debate begins on energy reform. In fact, Cornyn could very well resemble a porcupine if things go as expected and Baucus seeks to raise taxes on the oil industry to help pay for new initiatives," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Lobbying: Liberals Gear Up For SCOTUS Pick

• "With Justice David Souter set to step down from the Supreme Court, lobbying groups are revving up their research and advocacy efforts in a battle that could cost a million dollars or more before a justice is confirmed," The Hill reports. "The White House said this week that the nomination process is on a 'tight timeline,' and that President Obama would like to see a new justice installed on the court by October."

• "The White House's top ethics cop said on Tuesday that 'there is a process' in place for enforcing the new lobbying rules on the books since" Obama "was sworn in on Jan. 20," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "'We have had extensive conversations with both the groups that agree with the rules and disagree with the rules,' White House special counsel Norman Eisen said Tuesday at George Washington University. 'We're also in regular conversation with the agencies.'"

• "During the 2008 campaign cycle, a political action committee set up by Rep. Paul Gillmor spent nearly $6,000 on seemingly personal outlays: fast-food, doughnuts, bar tabs and golfing," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The spending was highly unusual. The Ohio Republican was dead. Such free spending on behalf of federal lawmakers who are retired, defeated -- or, in this case, deceased -- is legal, according to the Federal Election Commission, and becoming increasingly common."

Health Care: HHS Using Widgets

• "The widget created to help consumers get the latest online information on the Health and Human Services Department's recall of peanuts has generated 40 million hits, according to a new report," Federal Computer Week reports. "The department's widgets are icons and their associated code that can be placed on Web sites. HHS is currently offering several widgets that link to department Web sites that offer updates on food safety, swine flu and spending under the economic stimulus law, according to a 15-page HHS progress report posted to the Web on April 29."

• "As the framework for health care reform legislation takes shape in the Senate, the issue of whether to include a government-run insurance option has emerged as the main area of disagreement between Democratic and Republican negotiators," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "In a rare sight on Capitol Hill for any industry, health insurers practically begged senators Tuesday to regulate their livelihood rather than subject them to the fierce, and potentially lethal, competition that would ensue if lawmakers unleash a government-run public insurance option on them," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

Technology: Internet Gambling Raises Ante

• "Online gambling advocates are upping their ante inside the Beltway, adding new hired guns and rethinking their Capitol Hill strategy as Congress gets ready to take up legislation that would reverse the ban on online gaming," Roll Call (subscription) reports. Barney Frank "is expected to introduce legislation as early as today aimed at legalizing online gambling."

• "The Federal Communications Commission wants broadcasters to suspend regular programming and instead show a public-service ad about the digital transition for three five-minute periods May 21 as part of an effort to make sure Americans are ready for the switch," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Commentary: Corporate Tax Woes

• Commentators in Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section express misgivings about Obama's plans to increase taxes for multinationals.

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