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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

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Obama to speak at Fort Hood memorial, and Connecticut governor won't seek re-election. Plus: Senate aims to debate health care next week.

November 10, 2009

White House: Obama Will Join Fort Hood Memorial

• "President Barack Obama, military leaders and a host of lawmakers are expected to attend" today's "memorial service for the 13 victims slain in last week's shooting rampage at" the Fort Hood Army base, The Hill reports. "White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obamas will meet with victims' families and the president will speak at the memorial to 'a community obviously saddened and stricken by the events of last week.'"

• Obama "is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, though probably not quite the 40,000 sought by his top general there," AP reports. "The White House emphasized that the president hasn't made a decision yet about troop levels or other aspects of the revised U.S. strategy in Afghanistan."

• "President Obama's nine-day, four country Asia swing will feature meetings with leaders of 22 countries, many of whom will be looking for a signal that he is ready to frame his trade agenda," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Obama, who leaves Thursday, has been reviewing U.S. trade policies since his inauguration. That has left many in the business community and in Asian capitals frustrated that 10 months later there is no clear signal of administration intent."

 

National Security: Fort Hood Shooter Had Warned Of 'Adverse Events'

• "The Army psychiatrist believed to have killed 13 people at Fort Hood warned a roomful of senior Army physicians a year and a half ago that to avoid 'adverse events,' the military should allow Muslim soldiers to be released as conscientious objectors instead of fighting in wars against other Muslims," the Washington Post reports.

• "The number of people caught illegally entering the U.S. dropped by more than 23% during the past year, continuing a longer trend, federal data shows," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The struggling U.S. economy and rising joblessness are major factors behind the decline. But government officials say investment in border security since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, also has deterred illegal immigration."

Health Care: Senate Aims To Start Debate Next Week

• "Senate Democratic leaders are still pushing to bring up their health care reform bill next week, even though the gambit comes with risks as they race against the clock to get a measure passed before the end of the year," Roll Call (subscription). "'We're going to get on health care... before Thanksgiving, or at least give it our utmost to get on that bill,' Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor Monday evening."

• "President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them," the New York Times reports. "'There needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo' on abortion, Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News. 'And that's the goal.'"

• "More than 40 lawmakers vowed to oppose the final healthcare bill if the House language on abortion is not removed," The Hill reports. "Reps. Diana DeGette (Colo.) and Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) led the group of Democrats in writing to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) threatening to withhold support for a final conference report if it strictly prohibits federal funding for abortion services."

• "As health care legislation moves toward a crucial airing in the Senate, the White House is facing a growing revolt from some Democrats and analysts who say the bills Congress is considering do not fulfill President Obama's promise to slow the runaway rise in health care spending," the New York Times reports.

Economy: Dodd To Release Financial Regulation Bill

• "Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd will unveil long-awaited draft legislation on financial regulation reform" today, "his office said on Monday," Reuters reports. "Analysts said it will garner little immediate support from Republicans, likely forcing significant changes in some of its major provisions before final Senate action is possible. In a departure from the Obama agenda, Dodd will call for centralizing bank supervision in one agency -- a contentious proposal that would pit him against other lawmakers and the administration, sources said."

• "Lawmakers looking to stem the flow of red ink are trying to harness growing concerns over the $1.4 trillion budget deficit to pass legislation establishing a bipartisan commission to force Congress to address the fiscal imbalance," CongressDaily AM (subscription) reports. Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., "said about 11 senators met with Majority Leader Reid on Friday, where they said they would not support an increase in the debt limit without legislation forming a bipartisan debt reduction commission."

• "Democrats are advancing proposals in Congress designed to limit the size and complexity of financial companies so that any collapse wouldn't damage the broader economy, a sign that lawmakers are responding to anti-Wall Street sentiment by toughening the administration's rewrite of finance rules," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "The Federal Housing Administration, which has played a crucial role supporting American home buyers after the collapse of the mortgage market, has burned through a huge cash reserve in less than a decade and could soon wind up with what amounts to an automatic taxpayer bailout if the agency's fortunes don't improve, according to a review of FHA finances," the Washington Post reports.

Congress: Democrats Worry What Recess Has In Store

• "The last time Congress returned home for an extended break in August, health care reform proponents lost ground that took weeks to regain -- but not again, Democrats insist as they head into the Veterans Day recess," Politico reports. "The landscape is a bit different this time. House Democrats passed a sweeping bill Saturday night, giving lawmakers something to tout back home but also providing Republicans with more concrete opportunities to criticize."

• "Prosecutors want a sentence of at least 27 years for a Democrat convicted of accepting more than $400,000 in bribes while in office," The Hill reports. "A federal court found 18-year Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) guilty this past August on 11 counts of bribery, racketeering and money-laundering."

Politics: Connecticut Governor Won't Seek Re-Election

• "Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell (R) has decided against running for re-election, a decision that immediately turns the Nutmeg State into one of" Democrats' "best pickup opportunities nationally," the Washington Post reports. "Rell, who took over in July 2004 from scandal-plagued governor John Rowland (R), had been milling whether or not to run for months."

• "New York's Legislature is meeting in extraordinary session to confront a $3.2 billion deficit and possibly hold a landmark vote to provide final legislative approval of same-sex marriage," AP reports. "Gov. David Paterson [D] has a plan to cut spending for hospitals and what he calls a 3 percent cut in school aid for the remainder of the year as well as other measures to meet the shortfall and pay December's bills."

World: U.S. Will Send Diplomat To North Korea

• "President Obama has agreed to send a senior U.S. diplomat to North Korea for the first direct talks with the government there in more than a year, hoping the mission will lead to the renewal of multi-nation negotiations designed to end its nuclear program," the Washington Post reports. "Senior administration officials said Monday that Obama decided last week to dispatch Stephen W. Bosworth, his special representative for North Korea, to Pyongyang after months of 'intensive' discussions with U.S. allies in East Asia over how to reengage North Korea on its nuclear program."

• "North and South Korean naval forces exchanged fire" today "in disputed waters, a South Korean defense official said," CNN reports. "The two Koreas clashed off their west coast, the first such incident in seven years, each blaming the other for the incident."

• "France's foreign minister" today "urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to step down and vowed to press that point during a trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in the coming days," AP reports. "Abbas announced last week that he would not run for another term in an election scheduled for January, citing deadlocked efforts to revive peace talks with Israel."

Energy & Environment: EPA Says Attorneys Violated Ethics Standards With Critical Video

• "EPA's top lawyer says the agency is not censoring two of its California-based attorneys who posted a YouTube video criticizing the Obama administration's backing of a House-passed climate bill. But the two attorneys were asked to either take down the video or edit out references to their work with EPA because they violated government ethics standards," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "A Senate panel will examine climate legislation this week, but its prospects may be dimming this year as Midwestern senators challenge a key compromise on the distribution of valuable emissions allowance," The Hill reports. "The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), is holding a climate hearing" today "to examine how addressing climate change fits in with fixing the economy and creating jobs."

• "Veterans groups have become a key weapon for environmentalists in their bid to win over swing votes on California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer's climate change bill," Politico reports. Military leaders made the connection between energy efficiency and climate change and national security, "and now scores of retired admirals and generals are lending their stars to the boards of energy security organizations in ways that could expand the political base for new climate change policies.

• "The International Energy Agency" today "said a new global deal to limit carbon emissions, if reached in coming months, could sharply curtail the growth in oil consumption in the years ahead as alternative energy resources and efficiency measures are tapped," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Technology: EU, U.S. Disagree On Sun-Oracle Deal

• "European antitrust regulators have formally objected to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s planned $7.4 billion sale to Oracle Corp., escalating a battle over a deal that has already been cleared in the U.S.," AP reports. "The so-called 'statement of objections' that Sun received Monday from the European Commission isn't entirely surprising, since the commission already expressed concerns about possible harm to the database market from an Oracle-Sun tie-up when it launched a formal antitrust probe of the deal in September."

• "The parties to the Google book settlement, which would legalize the creation of a vast library of digital books, have asked the judge overseeing a revision of the agreement for an extension to this Friday," the New York Times reports. "At a hearing in October, Google and its partners at the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers outlined an aggressive timeline for modifying the agreement to satisfy the objections of the Justice Department and other critics."

Lobbying: Credit Unions Push for Military Exemption

• "Credit unions and associations representing military members are urging lawmakers to oppose a provision in a broad financial services bill that they argue amounts to a tax on troops and their families," The Hill reports. "The bill, currently being marked up in the House Financial Services Committee, would impose a fee on financial institutions with more than $10 billion in assets to pay for the costs if the government is forced to take over a failing financial firm."

• "Major union groups are spending $1 million this week to thank endangered Democratic Members whose yea health care votes over the weekend may complicate their 2010 re-election chances," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "The traditional pecking order of Washington's top trade and business groups has been thrown into disarray by the Obama administration's far-reaching domestic agenda and its tough tactics against opponents," Politico reports. "It's the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Consumer Federation of America that are seeing their ideas prevail in the current debate over rewriting the regulatory framework for the financial industry, not the once-invincible, big New York investment banks."

• "The House ethics committee has not approached Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) or Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) about the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm under FBI investigation," The Hill reports. "The two lawmakers, both of whom sit on the Appropriations Defense subcommittee that provided earmarks to the group's clients, said they are cooperating with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a new quasi-independent board that initiates investigations and makes recommendations to the full panel."

Commentary: Deconstructing Fort Hood

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Cal Thomas blasts political correctness in the wake of the Fort Hood shooting, while Jonah Goldberg reads the tea leaves and says evil is still thriving.

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