White House: Obama Pledges Support To Native Americans
• "President Obama promised Native American leaders on Thursday that he would give more than 'lip service' to their concerns, and instructed Cabinet agencies to report back to him within 90 days on plans that would establish 'regular and meaningful consultation' between the federal government and long-ignored tribal nations," the New York Times reports.
• Obama today "is set to sign a $24 billion economic stimulus bill providing tax incentives to prospective homebuyers and extending unemployment benefits to the longtime jobless who have been left behind as the economy veers toward recovery," AP reports. The House approved it 403-12 on Thursday after the Senate approved it unanimously Wednesday.
• "The Obama administration is considering using DNA tests for some foreign refugee applicants following a Bush-era pilot program that found massive fraud among those claiming family links to join relatives already in the United States," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The State Department said today that it and the Homeland Security Department are nearing a decision on ways to reinstate a refugee resettlement program that was suspended last year when the fraud was uncovered."
Health Care: Pelosi Working To Limit Democratic Defections
• "Although confident of victory" on the House's health-care reform vote Saturday, "Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democratic leaders were working" Thursday "to limit defections to the roughly 25 Democrats viewed as 'hard no' votes," the Washington Post reports. "There will be 258 Democrats in the House by the time the vote takes place, but to secure the 218 votes needed for passage -- and with prospects dim for Republican converts -- Pelosi can afford to lose no more than 40 members of her caucus."
• "House leaders are likely to bow to pressure from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and leave tighter restrictions for undocumented immigrants out of the healthcare overhaul, but avoiding conflict in the House could set up a brutal battle with the Senate and possibly" Obama, CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
Energy & Environment: Senate Panel Passes Bill Without Republicans
• "In a step that reflected deep partisan divisions in the Senate over the issue of global warming, Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee pushed through a climate bill on Thursday without any debate or participation by Republicans," the New York Times reports. "The measure passed by an 11-to-1 vote with the support of all the Democratic committee members except Senator Max Baucus of Montana."
• "While Sen. Barbara Boxer was celebrating" the vote, "other Democrats and Republicans were already looking for a Plan B," Politico reports. "Moderates are looking to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to come up with that Plan B, which may include more incentives for nuclear power, renewable fuels and maybe even domestic drilling to draw support of moderate Democrats and some Republicans."
• "A proposal to use federal stimulus dollars to finance a Chinese-backed wind project in Texas is under attack from some members of Congress, the latest sign of tension in Washington over foreign-owned firms' efforts to secure U.S. money for alternative-energy projects," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "In a letter Thursday to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) urged the department not to use any federal stimulus money to support a $1.5 billion wind project in Texas, unless the project relies on U.S.-built turbines and other components."
• "A curious debate has broken out among American environmental groups, as the Senate balkily starts to focus on the threat of climate change," the Washington Post reports. "Some groups have muted their alarms about wildfires, shrinking glaciers and rising seas. Not because they've stopped caring about them -- but because they're trying to win over people who might care more about a climate bill's non-environmental side benefits, such as 'green' jobs and reduced oil imports."
Congress: Senate Approves $65 Billion Spending Bill
• "After about a month of off-and-on consideration, the Senate Thursday approved the $64.9 billion, FY10 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill, after defeating four Republican amendments, including a hotly debated proposal that would have prevented funds from being used to try perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in federal courts," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
• "Senate Democrats Thursday blocked a GOP attempt to require next year's census forms to ask people whether they are U.S. citizens," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.
• "Sen. Jim DeMint dropped his hold on a pair of executive branch nominees Thursday after receiving assurances from the Obama administration regarding the upcoming election in Honduras," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The South Carolina Republican had been advocating that the White House recognize Honduras' Nov. 29 election regardless of its outcome."
Politics: Gov. Paterson To Air First Campaign Ads Today
• "Seeking to dampen continuing speculation that he will drop his quest for election, Gov. David A. Paterson will run his first television ads" today, " his campaign announced Thursday," the New York Times reports. "The two ads, each 30 seconds long, highlight his biography and address criticism Mr. Paterson has faced from labor unions and business interests over his proposed cuts to the state budget."
• Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, "channeling his party's energized conservative wing, said the party will 'come after' moderates who support President Obama's domestic policies," Politico reports.
• "Eight influential Republican Senators jumped on board former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina's (R) California Senate campaign Thursday, a day after she officially launched her bid to take on Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in 2010," Roll Call (subscription) reports.
• "Montana Rep. Dennis Rehberg met with Republican recruiters about a 2012 Senate run against Democrat Jon Tester on Thursday," Politico reports. "Rehberg, who was seen exiting the National Republican Senatorial Committee's Capitol Hill headquarters Thursday morning, is the state's lone representative in the House."
World: Palestinian President Says He Won't Seek Re-election
• "The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, warned on Thursday that he would not seek re-election, the latest sign that the Obama administration's drive to broker a Middle East peace accord, one of President Obama's key foreign policy goals, has fallen into disarray," the New York Times reports. "Mr. Abbas, 74, has threatened to step aside before, but coming immediately after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to the region... his announcement laid bare the deepening tensions over the administration's failure to extract an Israeli settlement freeze or any concessions from Arab leaders."
• "An escalating quarrel between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a powerful governor is stoking fears of bloodshed in one of the country's more peaceful and prosperous provinces," the Wall Street Journal reports. "During this year's presidential election, Balkh Gov. Atta Mohammad Noor was alone among Afghanistan's 34 governors -- all of whom were appointed by Mr. Karzai -- to openly back challenger Abdullah Abdullah."
Economy: G-20 To Meet About Continuing Financial Support
• "The Group of 20 leading nations will agree this weekend it is too early to pull the plug on emergency support for the global economy and launch a new system of checks to help rebalance world growth and prevent future crises," Reuters reports. "British finance minister Alistair Darling is hosting the third meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers this year in St Andrews, Scotland" today, "aiming to put flesh on the bones of agreements made at a leaders' summit in Pittsburgh in September."
• "A senior House Democrat said Thursday he would push to extend unemployment insurance benefits through all of 2010 before the end of this year, when the eligibility window for new enrollees will shut down or begin to phase out for existing beneficiaries," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "The projected cost of such a program is potentially $80 billion to $85 billion, according to preliminary estimates."
• "No large financial firm should be too big to fail, said two members of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee," Bloomberg News reports. Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia "are sponsoring legislation to give the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. the authority to force large bank holding companies into receivership. Any firm that benefits from a government-funded orderly wind-down would be required to close its doors permanently to avoid a perpetual series of government bailouts."
Technology: Rockefeller Warns Against Vague Broadband Rules
• "Senate Commerce Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller has a blunt message for the Democratic-led" Federal Communications Commission: "Don't submit a national broadband plan to Congress early next year that's complicated, esoteric, filled with grandiose ideas and dependent on protracted rulemaking to implement," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
• "Pressure is growing on the" FCC "to come down on tech giant Google for blocking access to certain telephone numbers with its Google Voice service," The Hill reports. "The issue involves fees that traditional phone companies are forced to pay to connect calls, but from which Google argues it is exempt because it is a Web-enabled phone service."
Lobbying: Banks Hire Derivatives Expert To Lobby
• "Seven major American and foreign banks have hired a prominent financial lawyer to lobby on legislation that would restrict how banks do business in the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market," The Hill reports. "Edward Rosen, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb, registered as a lobbyist for the banks at the end of October and received at least $200,000 in the third quarter, according to congressional lobbying records.... Rosen has been a central player on derivatives legislation throughout the financial regulatory overhaul debate this year."
• "The American Petroleum Institute plans to announce Thursday that Martin J. Durbin has been named its new Executive Vice President of Government Affairs," Politico reports. "Durbin will join API in December from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), He replaces Jim Ford, who has worked at API for the past 10 years."
• "The House ethics committee declared in a letter issued late Wednesday that Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) did not violate the chamber's rules through his involvement in a Tennessee land-swap deal in 2007," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "The ethics committee's review focused on the Cove at Blackberry Ridge LLC, a real estate development company in Loudon, Tenn., in which Shuler is an investor."
Commentary: Independent Thinking
• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, some commentators underscore the importance of independents in Tuesday's elections, while another taps into their political thinking.