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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

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Establishment Republicans oppose ideological 'purity' test, and WH gate-crashers will testify before Congress. Plus: Is Honduras' diplomatic isolation almost over?

December 1, 2009

White House: Crashers Sought Pentagon Official's Help

• "E-mails turned over to the Secret Service show that Tareq and Michaele Salahi had sought a top Defense Department official's help to gain access to last week's White House state dinner," the Washington Post reports.

• "After a steady weekend drumbeat from the GOP over the disquieting state dinner exploits of Tareq and Michaele Salahi, on Monday," Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, House Homeland Security Committee chairman, "summoned the couple and Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan to testify before his committee Thursday," Politico reports.

Health Care: Senate Opens Debate On Bill

• "Democrats and Republicans used initial amendment offerings and procedural moves to frame consideration of the healthcare overhaul bill as they kicked off debate Monday," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Democrats attempted to muddle two of the GOP's main arguments against" the proposal of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, "while Republicans focused their attention on a third hot-button issue, the proposal's nearly half-a-trillion dollars in cuts to seniors' Medicare benefits. Senators took no votes Monday, but could cast some on the overhaul later this afternoon, a spokesman for Reid said."

 

• "Congressional budget analysts said the" Senate "measure would leave premiums unchanged or slightly lower for the vast majority of Americans, contradicting assertions by the insurance industry that the average family's coverage would rise by thousands of dollars if the proposal became law," the Washington Post reports. The Congressional Budget Office found that premiums would rise in the individual market, but coverage would also improve.

• "Talk about using budget reconciliation to pass healthcare reform in the Senate has faded from public view, but Democratic leaders continue to hang the threat over centrists in private," The Hill reports.

World: Iran Detains Five Britons In Gulf

• "Iran confirmed Tuesday that its Revolutionary Guards were holding five Britons seized in the Persian Gulf aboard a sleek 60-foot sailing yacht and said they would be subject to 'hard and serious' measures if they were found to have harbored 'evil intentions,'" the New York Times reports.

• "Honduras's President-elect Porfirio Lobo began lobbying on Monday for international recognition of his victory and an end to the country's diplomatic isolation over the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Politics: Huckabee Haunted By Commutation After Police Slayings

• "Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's hopes for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination have been dealt a major blow by his 9-year-old decision to commute the sentence of Maurice Clemmons -- the man suspected of killing four police officers near Seattle early Sunday," the Washington Times reports.

• "Establishment Republicans are recoiling at a draft proposal before the Republican National Committee that would bar party financial support for candidates who fail to meet eight of 10 issue tests," Politico reports. "Numerous top party officials say that imposing such a conservative litmus test would only spur intra-party bickering at a time when Republicans are poised to make significant gains in next year's mid-term elections."

• With Atlanta's "voters heading to the polls on Tuesday, the neck-and-neck runoff for mayor has distilled into a sharp contrast between a self-styled outsider, Mary Norwood, who is appealing to voters who want a change, and the ultimate insider, Kasim Reed, who has amassed scores of endorsements from Atlanta's political and business elites," the New York Times reports.

Economy: CBO Credits Stimulus With Big Gains In Jobs, GDP

• "The Congressional Budget Office late Monday said it estimates that the federal stimulus package sustained between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs in the third quarter, and raised gross domestic product by 1.2 to 3.2 percentage points higher than it would have been without the program," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "With rising foreclosures still threatening the economy, the Obama administration is trying to pump new life into its much-criticized program to lower payments for homeowners at risk of defaulting on their home loans," the Los Angeles Times reports.

National Security: Supreme Court Stops Release Of Detainee Abuse Pics

• "The Supreme Court on Monday vacated a lower court ruling that would have required the government to release photographs showing the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan," the New York Times reports.

• "The United States is about to lose a key arms-control tool from the closing days of the Cold War -- the right to station American observers in Russia to count the long-range missiles leaving its assembly line," the Washington Times reports.

Energy & Environment: Chu Says U.S. Is Lagging On Energy

• "The United States is falling behind in the race for clean, renewable energy and risks losing its prominence in high-tech manufacturing, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Monday," Reuters reports. "'America has the opportunity to lead the world in a new industrial revolution,' Chu told business leaders, political leaders and engineers at a Clemson University symposium. But, he said, 'The world is passing us by. We are falling behind in the clean energy race.'"

• Massachusetts homeowners can start selling back excess electricity if they generate more than they use, AP reports. "It's called 'net metering,' and beginning" today, "property owners can submit the applications needed to begin earning credits on their electricity bills if they generate more energy than they need on any given day or week."

Lobbying: Interest Groups Jump Into Senate Health Care Debate

• "As the Senate launches into an expected marathon health care debate this month, interest groups are working furiously to shape -- or spike -- the current legislation," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "From deep inside Metro stations to aboveground in Capitol Hill offices, lawmakers and their staffs will be deluged with messages from health care stakeholders."

• "Abortion-rights groups are holding a lobby day on Wednesday to fight language in the House healthcare bill that would impose greater restrictions on access to the controversial procedure," The Hill reports. "Abortion-rights groups Planned Parenthood, NARAL-Pro-Choice America and others are sponsoring a lobby day on Wednesday as part of a national 'week of action' in opposition to the" amendment from Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., restricting the use of federal funds for abortions.

• "Stimulus money for high-speed rail has sparked a feeding frenzy among lobbyists, according to a new report from a watchdog group," the Chicago Tribune reports. "Competition for federal stimulus grants led more than 50 groups to lobby on high-speed rail policy in the third quarter of 2009, the Center for Public Integrity reports. That number is roughly triple the 17 groups doing so just a year earlier."

Transportation: LaHood Says Congress Should Consider Gas Tax Increase

• "Congress should consider raising the federal gas tax for the first time since 1993, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday during a visit to Fort Worth," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. "LaHood pledged to work with Congress on passing a five-year transportation bill in 2010. The main sticking point, he said, is that although about $500 billion in highway, bridge and transit needs have been identified, the federal gas tax -- 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline -- can't generate that much revenue.

Technology: Online Privacy Legislation Attacked Before Release

• "Draft legislation spearheaded by House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., that seeks to fortify online privacy hasn't been released, but that's not stopping critics from complaining that it falls short of protecting Web surfers or clamps down too hard on advertisers," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Last cycle, the on-demand video Web site Hulu.com was only in its infancy, but with a growing audience, it could be difficult to ignore in future elections," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "This year, there has been a trickle of online video advertising on other news Web sites, and Hulu could be next."

Commentary: The New Course In Afghanistan

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, David Brooks looks at Obama's hybrid strategy in Afghanistan and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., urges the president to commit to a "civilian surge."

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