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Obama's approval ratings for health care drop, and Clinton promises new era of democracy in India. Plus: Governors say their states still not feeling effects on stimulus.

White House: Obama's Approval Ratings On Big Issues Drop

• "Heading into a critical period in the debate over health-care reform, public approval of President Obama's stewardship on the issue has dropped below the 50 percent threshold for the first time, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll," the Washington Post reports. "Obama's approval ratings on other front-burner issues, such as the economy and the federal budget deficit, have also slipped over the summer, as rising concern about spending and continuing worries about the economy combine to challenge his administration."

• "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged an 'exciting new approach' to relations between the United States and India" today, "moving beyond the formal confines of diplomacy to more free-wheeling exchanges among business people, students, and activists," the New York Times reports. "In a major address at the University of Delhi that mixed political themes with wit and self-deprecation, Mrs. Clinton" promoted "a 'comprehensive strategic approach' that covered issues ranging from education and food security to climate change."


• "Obama will hold a round-table discussion" today "with health-care providers at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington," AP reports. "Later, the president welcomes the Apollo 11 crew and NASA administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden to the White House."

Congress: Bennett Will Oppose Sotomayor After Voting For Her In '98

• "Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah) announced Friday that he would vote against Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, becoming the first Republican to oppose her ascension to the high court who supported her nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals just over a decade ago," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "House Democratic leaders have rapidly and methodically tackled their and President Obama's big-ticket agenda this year as if they were knocking down a row of dominoes, not losing a single important vote," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "But with razor-thin House passage of climate change legislation last month and with a sweeping $1 trillion-plus healthcare overhaul up next, a growing number of Democrats in both chambers are urging House Speaker" Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "Senate Majority Leader" Harry Reid, D-Nev., "and Obama to let up on the gas."


Health Care: Governors Fear Getting Stuck With Bill On Medicaid

•"The nation's governors, Democrats as well as Republicans, voiced deep concern Sunday about the shape of the health care plan emerging from Congress, fearing that Washington was about to hand them expensive new Medicaid obligations without money to pay for them," the New York Times reports.

•The health insurance industry "is speaking up, not with an attack but with a seven-figure, national cable TV ad buy starting Monday in favor of affordable bipartisan health reform that can cover everyone," Politico reports. "But make no mistake: The ads are sending a strong don't-tread-on-us message, not so much a shot across the bow of reform as a reminder of the industry's ability to weigh in at any time, with messages pro or con."

•"Obama's budget director on Sunday appeared to soften on the administration's insistence that a health care reform bill be delivered by August," the New York Times reports. "'It's still the goal,'" Peter Orszag "said on CNN's 'State of the Union,' after he was asked if the president still wanted a bill on his desk before the summer recess. 'We think we can make that.'"

Economy: Governors Wondering Where Stimulus Effects Are

• "The ongoing troubled state of the economy was clearly and instantly on display at the annual summer gathering of the non-partisan National Governors Association which is taking place on the Mississippi Gulf Coast this year," ABC News reports. Five months after Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus, "several governors said the results have been mixed and that it's still too early to measure the full effects of the stimulus."


• "The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today's bleak landscape," AP reports. "The administration's annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Obama's budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through Congress. The release of the update -- usually scheduled for mid-July -- has been put off until the middle of next month."

• "GOP Reps. Ed Royce (Calif.) and Jeb Hensarling (Texas) plan to offer a barrage of amendments and rhetorical broadsides as the Financial Services Committee on Thursday begins marking up a bill to overhaul the rules governing the financial sector and create a powerful new regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

National Security: Senate And White House Face Off Over F-22s

• "The Senate appears ready to buck the White House this week on one of" Obama's "top national security policies -- cutting back on pricey weapons systems," Roll Call (subscription) reports. It "is poised to pass an annual Defense authorization bill that would spend $1.75 billion on seven more of the fighters, which are manufactured by Lockheed Martin."

• "From pirates to North Korean missile tests, Obama has faced an array of foreign policy challenges during his presidency and attracted mixed reviews on how he has handled them," The Hill reports. "It has been six months since Obama took office, the same amount of time Vice President Joe Biden said it would take for another country to test the young president."

• "A sweeping United States military review calls for overhauling the troubled American-run prison" at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan "as well as the entire Afghan jail and judicial systems, a reaction to worries that abuses and militant recruiting within the prisons are helping to strengthen the Taliban," the New York Times reports.

World: Honduras Rejects Proposal To Reinstate Zelaya

• "Honduras' interim government on Sunday rejected a proposal to reinstate ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya, ending a round of negotiations aimed at resolving the country's political crisis," CNN reports. "The proposal had been presented by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who was mediating the talks between the two Honduran sides at his home over the weekend."

• "The lone surviving gunman in the November Mumbai attacks admitted his role in the shooting rampage Monday in a dramatic confession in an Indian court, reversing months of denials," AP reports.

Energy & Environment: Scores Of Last-Minute Amendments In House Climate Bill

•"There were about 300 pages of last-minute amendments" to the House climate bill, "many designed to make money for industries and constituencies important to fence-sitting lawmakers," the Los Angeles Times reports. "These narrowly focused amendments were part of a torrent written into the bill during the wheeling and dealing that took place as Democratic leaders rounded up the votes needed to squeak out a victory."

•"The search for consensus on climate change legislation continues next week in the Senate, but it seems every day brings fresh reminders of how difficult that effort could be,"The Hill reports. "Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has sought to entice wavering senators by stressing the legislation is as much about the economy as the environment. On Tuesday, her panel will examine how the clean-energy technologies' supporters say the legislation will improve local and state economies that have been withered by the recession."

•"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce" today "that his department is temporarily barring the filing of new uranium mining claims on about 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon, an Obama administration official said," AP reports. "The land is being 'segregated' for two years so that the department can study whether it should be permanently withdrawn from mining activity, said the official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter."

•"A federal judge has ruled that Georgia must stop withdrawing water within three years from a federal reservoir outside Atlanta that is the city's main water supply," AP reports.

Lobbying: Dodd Meets With Lobbyists After Trying to Distance Himself From Them

•"After distancing himself from lobbyists in campaign ads, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) was on Martha's Vineyard this weekend meeting with some of the most well known names on K Street," The Hill reports. "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) hosted its annual retreat this weekend at the high-class getaway. Designed for candidates to meet with senators for campaign advice and policy guidance, several high-powered lobbyists also attend and network with lawmakers during the retreat."

• "The chief executives of both" FedEx and UPS "have met with senators in recent months and have doubled or tripled their lobbying expenditures over the past year and a half," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "UPS is hoping Democratic control of Congress and the White House will enable it to win support for a bill that would place some of FedEx's drivers and other employees under the National Labor Relations Act, the same law that governs UPS."

Politics: In Op-Ed, Sanford Says He's 'Humbled' And 'Broken'

• "South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) apologized to disappointed constituents in a Sunday op-ed, calling himself 'humbled' and 'broken as never before,'" The Hill reports. "The disgraced governor, who revealed last month that he had left South Carolina for a week to be with his mistress in Argentina, said the grace of God can help him repair the pain he has caused his family, his supporters and his state."

Technology: Broadband To Expand In New Hampshire

•"New Hampshire Democratic Gov. John Lynch signed legislation last week that would help bring broadband and advanced telecommunications services to the state, especially to underserved areas," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "The measure establishes a director of broadband technology planning and development, which will be paid for with federal stimulus funds."

Commentary: How To Pay For Health Care

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, discussion about how to pay for health care reform makes its way into the pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times but with diverging directions on what to do next.

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