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EARLYBIRD

Top News

Cheney predicts pickups for GOP in 2010, while three cities get new anti-terror funds. Plus: Subpoenas imminent for gate-crashers.

White House: Obama Traveling For Much Of December

• "With the Senate bearing down to pass health care reform legislation by the end of the year, President Barack Obama will be traveling for nearly half the remaining days of the month, making two trips to Scandinavia and then resting up in Hawaii over Christmas and New Year's," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is going to seek subpoenas to compel the couple accused of crashing the White House State Dinner to testify before Congress, Congressional aides said on Tuesday," the New York Times reports.

 

Health Care: Democrats Reach Public Option Compromise

• "Democratic senators negotiating a public option compromise within their party said late Tuesday they agreed to send a package to" the Congressional Budget Office "for scoring today. Senate Majority Leader" Harry Reid, D-Nev., "said the public option was not abandoned," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "The Senate voted against strengthening restrictions for federal funding of abortion Tuesday evening, a development that could imperil Democrats' efforts to pass an underlying healthcare reform bill," The Hill reports. "Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who offered the amendment, had indicated that he could support a Republican filibuster of the healthcare reform bill if the abortion language were not added to it. The Senate voted to table Nelson's amendment, which takes it off the floor with a simple majority, on a 54-45 tally."

• Reid is "renewing his courtship of GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine)," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Snowe is the only Senate Republican to support any Democratic health care plan this year -- she supported the Finance Committee version -- but so far has opposed the bill Reid brought to the floor over its inclusion of a public insurance option."

 

Energy & Environment: Copenhagen Agreements Could Cost Trillions

• "If negotiators reach an accord at the climate talks in Copenhagen it will entail profound shifts in energy production, dislocations in how and where people live, sweeping changes in agriculture and forestry and the creation of complex new markets in global warming pollution credits," the New York Times reports. "So what is all this going to cost? The short answer is trillions of dollars over the next few decades."

• "The Environmental Protection Agency's finding that carbon dioxide represents a threat to human health starts a process that regulatory experts say will take years to resolve," The Hill reports. "Whether it becomes the 'glorious mess' that Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) predicted depends on factors like how much flexibility utilities and other emitters are given to meet the new standards and whether Congress eventually passes a cap-and-trade bill that would clear up some of the uncertainty surrounding the regulation."

• "Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said after meeting with" Reid "on Tuesday that Reid and" Obama "support bringing a sweeping climate bill to the Senate floor next year after financial regulatory reform," The Hill reports. "The roughly half-hour-long meeting with Reid and several other members is among the strategy sessions occurring as the Copenhagen climate talks get under way."

World: North Korea Admits Swine Flu Outbreak

• "Reclusive North Korea today took the unusual step of acknowledging that it has suffered an outbreak of swine flu, with officials saying the virus has killed dozens of citizens," the Los Angeles Times reports.

 

• "Faced with swelling unease over the place of Muslim immigrants in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy called Tuesday for tolerance among native French people but warned that arriving Muslims must embrace Europe's historical values and avoid 'ostentation or provocation' in the practice of their religion," the Washington Post reports.

• "Philippine police" today "named 161 suspects in the massacre of 57 people last month, including government militiamen led by members of a powerful clan facing murder and rebellion charges," AP reports.

Economy: Bank Bailout Effective, Panel Concludes

• "The independent panel that oversees the government's financial bailout program concluded in a year-end review that, despite flaws and lingering problems, the program 'can be credited with stopping an economic panic,'" the New York Times reports.

• "The packed congressional schedule means action on the bulk of President Obama's job-creation proposals might be deferred to 2010, as the House and Senate race to complete a host of key bills by year's end," the Washington Post reports.

• "After months of sparring over health care reform, small-business groups are angling to play a lead role in shaping a White House-backed jobs package that is expected to become a priority in the new year," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Politics: Coakley Wins Massachusetts Senate Primary

• "Martha M. Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general, captured the Democratic nomination Tuesday in the race for Edward M. Kennedy's United States Senate seat, easily defeating three men in a race that was notably bereft of drama," the New York Times reports. "On the Republican side, State Senator Scott P. Brown of Wrentham defeated Jack E. Robinson, a lawyer. Ms. Coakley and Mr. Brown will face off in a special election on Jan. 19."

• "House Republican leaders have urged their Members to lay low in the debate about" Obama's "Afghanistan war strategy in an effort to keep their message focused on jobs while Democrats fight each other over the war," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday night that Republicans look strong heading into 2010," Politico reports. "'I think we'll pick up a lot of seats,' Cheney said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity."

National Security: Japan Tries To Resolve Spat Over Okinawa Base

• "Japan's prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, said Wednesday that he wants to present concrete proposals to" Obama "next week in hopes of ending a growing rift between his new government and Washington over an American military air base in Okinawa," the New York Times reports.

• "The Homeland Security Department on Tuesday announced $2.7 billion in grant allocations to state and local governments and moved the cities of Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas into the highest-risk tier for terrorist attacks," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "The Transportation Security Administration inadvertently revealed closely guarded secrets related to airport passenger screening practices when it posted online this spring a document as part of a contract solicitation, the agency confirmed Tuesday," the Washington Post reports.

Lobbying: Financial Overhaul Amendments Under Scrutiny

• "Financial lobbyists are closely watching two key amendments that could dramatically reshape financial overhaul legislation and the proposed consumer protection agency, "The Hill reports. "The House Rules Committee was scheduled to vote by" this afternoon "on whether to allow floor debate on amendments backed by Reps. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) and Melissa Bean (D-Ill.). Centrist House Democrats, including Minnick and Bean, are wary of the scope of proposed powers under the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA)."

• "More than 800 companies and organizations that were not involved in health care at all last year... listed the hot-button topic as an issue that they were lobbying on this year in disclosure reports filed with Congress," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "That is an increase of almost a third in the number of entities lobbying on health care."

• "Unions are ramping up lobbying efforts to remove an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans in the Senate healthcare reform bill," The Hill reports. "New ad campaigns and coordinated fly-in visits to Capitol Hill by union members this week will keep the pressure on Senate Democrats."

• "Represented by the National Automobile Dealers Association, the dealers are a powerful local force, and they flexed serious muscle to win an exemption in the House version of the" Consumer Federal Protection Agency "bill, over the opposition of the committee's powerful chairman, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)," Politico reports. "Across the field from the auto dealers in this brawl are the consumer advocates -- a coalition that, after years of unheeded warnings, have gained new clout in the post-crisis world."

Technology: White House Releases Mandates For Online Transparency

• "The White House released a series of wide-ranging mandates Tuesday designed to make agencies more transparent and cooperative in the public's requests for information about the inner workings of government," the Washington Post reports. "Among other things, federal agencies have until the end of January to post three 'high-value' data sets on Data.gov, the online home of such government information."

• "A controversial" Federal Communications Commission "proposal to shift most or all broadcast television stations to cable- or satellite-only distribution so their portion of the communications spectrum can be tapped for next-generation mobile broadband Internet service is expected to be debated at a Tuesday hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

Transportation: Senators Attack TSA For Airport Security Memo Leak

• "Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman," I/D-Conn., "and ranking member Susan Collins," R-Maine, "are slamming the Transportation Security Administration for improperly publicizing a sensitive security manual, an issue they are likely to raise when Homeland Security officials come before their panel today to testify on efforts to prevent suspected terrorists from traveling," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled on Tuesday details of the administration's plan to take over safety regulation of the nation's subway and light-rail systems, a proposal that would give federal authorities the power to bring lawsuits and seek criminal sentences," the Washington Post reports.

Commentary: The Climate Change Prognosis

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Sarah Palin says the hint of shoddy global warming science means the president should boycott the Copenhagen conference, but Thomas Friedman argues that Dick Cheney's "1 percent rule" should apply to climate change.

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