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EARLYBIRD

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Congressional leadership doesn't have public option votes yet, and Obama stumps for Deeds. Plus: Clinton in Pakistan for three-day trip.

White House: Obama Considers Asian-Pacific Free Trade Agreement

• "The Obama administration is locked in an internal debate over whether to negotiate a new Asian-Pacific free trade partnership," The Hill reports. "If the White House decides to go forward, it would amount to the first new free trade" arrangement "launched by President Barack Obama in a part of the world leading the global recovery. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) would create a free trade arrangement between the U.S. and Chile, Singapore, Australia, Peru, Brunei and New Zealand."

• Obama "plans to sign legislation today adding gays to the list of groups covered by the federal hate-crime law, the biggest expansion of such protections in decades," Bloomberg News reports. "Obama will sign a defense policy and funding measure that includes the provision and, according to a White House statement, will save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars by reducing waste and fraud."

 

• "For the past two weeks, as he's jetted across the country to fill Democrats' 2010 coffers, Obama has been test driving a new speech that sounds a lot like one he'd be giving if he were on the ballot next year: A line-item defense of his record so far, and a sober reminder to supporters of the against-the-odds campaign slog that eventually swept him into office," Politico reports.

Health Care: Lieberman Will Filibuster Against Bill With Public Option

• Sen. Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., "obliterated any illusion that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can quickly ram through health care reform with a public option, telling reporters on Tuesday that he would join Republicans in a filibuster to prevent a vote on Reid's plan if it isn't changed first," Politico reports. "'We're trying to do too much at once,' said Lieberman, who signaled he would vote with Reid on the first procedural vote that requires 60 votes, the motion to proceed."

• "Senate Democrats voiced deep disagreements on Tuesday over the idea of a government-run health insurance plan, suggesting that the decision by" Reid "to include a public plan in major health care legislation had failed, at least initially, to unite his caucus," the New York Times reports.

 

• "House liberals are stepping up efforts to push" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "and other leaders to exert more pressure on moderate colleagues to back a 'robust' public insurance option, even though the effort continues to fall well short of the 218 votes needed to pass, according to a recent whip survey," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "An updated vote-count list circulated Tuesday showed only 168 members of the 256-member Democratic Caucus prepared to definitely vote 'yes' for the more-sweeping version of a public option that the liberals prefer, which would pay on the basis of Medicare rates."

Congress: House Estate Tax Vote Delayed

• "The House will not vote to extend the estate tax until after the chamber tackles health care and a package of initiatives to create jobs and jump-start the economy," Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Tuesday, CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "House Democratic leaders had planned to bring up a bill as early as next week."

• Pelosi "has only lost one major vote since becoming Speaker," The Hill reports. "And with a roll call expected on a landmark healthcare bill as early as next week, she is facing one of her toughest tests yet: bringing together a caucus split between factions engaged in open warfare."

• "Judgeships have become the newest front in the Senate's yearlong fight over executive nominations and represent a burgeoning, if overshadowed, dispute," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Relatively unknown judges... are usually confirmed by voice vote, particularly when there is no opposition. But the Senate's Democratic leaders say Republicans are forcing them to burn floor time to confirm even noncontroversial judges."

 

• "A Republican senator's proposal to count only United States citizens when reapportioning Congress would cost California five seats and New York and Illinois one each, according to an independent analysis of census data released Tuesday. Texas, which is projected to gain three seats after the 2010 census, would get only one," the New York Times reports.

Politics: Obama Campaigns For Trailing Deeds

• "President Obama exhorted Virginia Democrats Tuesday to get behind their underdog gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds, urging them to shake off the complacency that has plagued the party this year," Politico reports.

• "The floodgates have officially opened on the Republican leaders who are trying to hold together Member support, or at least minimize outright opposition, for the party's nominee, Dede Scozzafava, in next week's special House election in upstate New York," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "On Tuesday, former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) spurned the leadership by endorsing Doug Hoffman's third-party campaign in the New York special election, following the lead of Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who announced his support for Hoffman on Friday."

National Security: House Panel To See If Intelligence Officials Hid Activities

• "The House Intelligence Committee is investigating at least five cases to determine if U.S. intelligence officials failed to properly notify Congress about intelligence activities, including whether" Pelosi "was misled by the CIA in September 2002 about the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspects," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Intelligence Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who is spearheading the investigation, said she would not rule out making referrals to the Justice Department for criminal prosecutions if evidence surfaces that intelligence officials broke the law."

• "President Obama will sign the FY10 defense authorization bill today, laying aside a threat to veto the measure because it keeps alive a second engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "The bill authorizes $680 billion in defense spending, including $130 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

World: U.N. Staffers Killed In Afghanistan

• "At least six international U.N. staff members, including one American, were killed" this morning "when a squad of gunmen and bombers attacked a heavily-guarded private guest house in the heart of the Afghan capital shortly after dawn," the Washington Post reports. "Officials said at least 9 other people were injured in the attack. None of the victims was immediately identified."

• "Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country's booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials," the New York Times reports. "The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.'s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai's home."

• "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Pakistan" today "for a three-day visit aimed at quelling rising anti-Americanism and convincing Pakistanis that the United States wants a relationship based on more than counterterrorism," the Washington Post reports. "Her first trip here since becoming secretary comes amid a major Pakistani military offensive against insurgent sanctuaries near the Afghanistan border, and a wave of suicide bombings, assassinations and attacks in Pakistani cities."

Angela Merkel today was "re-elected as Germany's chancellor to lead the country's first center-right coalition government in 11 years," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voted for Merkel, with 323 of the 612 votes cast in favor, 285 against and four abstentions."

Economy: Lawmakers Extend Only Jobless Benefits

• "A bipartisan push to extend a number of provisions in the $787 billion stimulus fizzled Tuesday, with senators opting to move ahead with a simple extension of jobless benefits instead," The Hill reports. "Democrats and Republicans had hoped to use the bill extending unemployment benefits by at least 14 weeks as the vehicle to extend other provisions set to expire this year."

• "GMAC, the troubled consumer finance company, is seeking billions of dollars in additional federal aid, a move that would be its third taxpayer bailout and could give the government a majority stake in the company, according to people briefed on the situation," the New York Times reports. "The government has injected $12.5 billion into the company and already owns about a 35 percent stake from a broader restructuring of General Motors, its onetime parent."

• Obama "on Tuesday embraced a House bill that would give the government unprecedented power to seize bank holding companies and other large financial firms teetering on the brink of collapse and stick their competitors with the cost," the Washington Post reports.

• "Treasury Department pay czar Kenneth Feinberg last week announced sharp cuts in total compensation at the finance and auto companies under his control," the Wall Street Journal reports. "But while he cut total compensation by half, he substantially increased one important element -- regular salaries, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis."

Energy & Environment: Big Livestock, Shippers Win EPA Concessions

• "Big livestock interests and Great Lakes shippers won key regulatory concessions from Democrats Tuesday in a double blow to" Obama's "climate change and clean air agenda," Politico reports. "The Environmental Protection Agency would be effectively barred from mandating the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions generated by large-scale cattle, dairy and hog producers. In addition, 13 Great Lakes cargo steamships won a last-minute exemption from a proposed rule to require lower-sulfur fuel to reduce harmful emissions."

• "The Obama administration warned on Tuesday that the U.S. could slip further behind China and other countries in clean energy development if Congress fails to pass climate legislation, as early signs of a rift emerged among Democrats over the bill's costs," AP reports. "Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate panel that the U.S. has stumbled in the clean energy race and to catch up Congress must enact comprehensive energy legislation that puts the first-ever limits on the gases blamed for global warming."

• "Senate Democrats leading the debate on climate legislation are not backing down on items targeted by party moderates as contentious," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "But an initial hearing Tuesday on revamped cap-and-trade legislation from Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry," D-Mass., "and Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer," D-Calif., "gave moderates a public mouthpiece that might spur concessions from party leaders down the road."

Technology: Senators Criticize Divided Broadband Program

• "Influential senators raised fresh concerns about the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program during an oversight hearing Tuesday, complaining that it is divided between two federal agencies when only one is necessary," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Lately, experts say, the U.S.'s creative streak has sputtered. Today, it has gone from being the No. 1 innovative country in the world to No. 6 and has made less progress in international competiveness and innovation than 40 other nations and regions measured in the past decade," Politico reports. "Concerned about the failure to innovate -- and convinced that it is the key to a vibrant economy -- officials at Intel, the world's largest maker of semiconductor chips, are convening a high-level conference in Washington next month. There, Obama administration officials, high-tech gurus, NGOs, corporate titans and academics will share ideas on how to spur economic recovery through innovation."

Lobbying: PMA Group's Closure Spawns Four New Firms

• "Not yet a year since the lobbying shop PMA Group abruptly shut its doors, castaways from Paul Magliocchetti's once-vast appropriations empire are continuing to divvy up his former clients among themselves. And they appear to be generating a handsome profit," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Four new lobbying firms emerged from the demise of PMA, which closed last spring in the wake of an apparent federal investigation reportedly exploring its possible ties to Reps. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and other House appropriators."

• "Unions converged on Chicago on Tuesday to protest lobbying by major banks against proposed reforms of the financial system," The Hill reports. "The AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other labor groups were leading a rally expected to draw 5,000 participants outside the annual conference for the American Bankers Association (ABA)."

• "While much of Washington, D.C., has been focused solely on health care reform, the technology industry has been quietly undergoing a massive shuffling of the decks on the personnel front," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Since the beginning of the year, more than half a dozen tech companies have installed new government relations office heads."

Transportation: FAA Suspends Northwest Pilots' Licenses

• "The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday revoked the licenses of the two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their Minneapolis destination by 150 miles," AP reports. "The pilots, who were out of communications with air traffic controllers for 91 minutes, violated numerous federal safety regulations in the incident last Wednesday night, the FAA said in a statement. The violations included failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly, the agency said."

Commentary: Obama's 'Man Cave'

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Maureen Dowd and Kathleen Parker discuss whether the president should include women in his recreational activities like golf and basketball.

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