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EARLYBIRD

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Labor Department to release employment numbers, and Obama touts job reform. Plus: Americans arrested in Haiti.

White House: Obama Gets Behind Lending Reform

• "President Obama will travel to a Maryland small business on Friday to urge the expansion of two Small Business Administration lending programs," Politico reports. "Revisiting a pledge from his State of the Union address, Obama will call on Congress pass a pair of legislative proposals to get more credit flowing in this slow economic recovery."

• Obama "told Democratic donors" Thursday night "to keep fighting for his agenda as he sought to whip up party faithful at the same time he is calling for bipartisan cooperation in Congress," Bloomberg News reports.

 

World: Americans Charged With Kidnapping In Haiti

• "Ten Americans who tried to take 33 Haitian children out of the country last week without the government's consent have been charged with child abduction and criminal conspiracy, as Haitian officials sought to reassert judicial control after the Jan. 12 earthquake," the New York Times reports.

• "North Korea is to release a US man arrested and held since December for illegally entering the country, state news agency KCNA has said," BBC News reports.

Economy: Labor Department Releasing Employment Report

• This morning, "the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the jobs report for January, and once again forecasts are all over the place," the New York Times reports. "The median projection is for a net gain of 15,000 nonfarm payroll jobs, but forecasts range from a loss of 100,000 jobs to a gain of 100,000 jobs."

 

• "Democratic and Republican senators struggled to hammer out a modest bipartisan job-creation package Thursday, reflecting how a turbulent political atmosphere is snarling even legislation with popular support," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Even if a jobs bill passes in the Senate next week, it faces skepticism in the House, which passed its own comprehensive jobs package in December."

Politics: Biden Criticizes Frequency Of Filibuster

• "Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he's never seen the filibuster become 'standard operating procedure' in the Senate," The Hill reports. "Biden said he regrets the divisive changes that have come as GOP leaders began demanding 60 votes on nearly all procedural matters."

• "The Republican National Committee has tapped Doug Heye, a veteran GOP spokesman, to be their new communications director," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

Congress: Debt Ceiling Raised As Spending Rules Pass

• "Congress approved a record $1.9 trillion debt ceiling increase Thursday together with Democratic-backed legislation to reinstate 'pay-go' rules credited with helping to rein in deficits in the 1990s," Politico reports. Obama called it "a simple but bedrock principle: Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere."

 

• "Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has placed a blanket hold on all executive nominations on the Senate calendar in an effort to win concessions from the Obama administration and Pentagon on a variety of fronts affecting his home state, according to aides to" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said Shelby is blocking more than 70 pending nominations."

National Security: Google Searches For Help From NSA

• "Internet search firm Google is finalizing a deal that would let the National Security Agency help it investigate a corporate espionage attack that may have originated in China," the Washington Post reports.

• "The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan," Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, "said Thursday that security there is no longer deteriorating, a view that represents his most optimistic assessment yet," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Health Care: Progressive Dems To Push Public Option Again

• "Progressives plan next week to reach across the Capitol and plot a strategy to revive the public option, the single provision in the healthcare overhaul that dominated the debate for weeks only to die in the Senate at the hands of entrenched GOP opposition and a few Democrats," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "With the health care overhaul on a back burner in Washington and possibly dead for this year, drug makers are getting a sinking sense of how a piecemeal public policy future might look for them," the New York Times reports.

Energy & Environment: Senators Introduce Emissions Bill

• "A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Thursday introduced legislation aimed at slashing emissions of sulfur dioxide, mercury and nitrogen oxide from smokestacks including coal-fired power plants," Reuters reports.

• "Twenty-three utilities -- and possibly more -- are lining up against the Obama administration's efforts to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission more power over transmission siting and cost allocation, with sources and documents indicating the companies will call for changes to Senate legislation on grid expansion," The Energy Daily (subscription) reports.

• "Republican senators" on Thursday "accused Energy Secretary Steven Chu of sending mixed signals to the nuclear industry. His department's FY2011 budget proposal calls for $36 million in loan guarantees for nuclear power yet eliminates funding for the nuclear waste repository site at Yucca Mountain," NationalJournal.com reports.

Transportation: Regulators To Look Into Prius Brakes

• "Safety regulators in Washington said Thursday that they would open an investigation into the brakes on the 2010 Prius, which had been spared from the recall lists," the New York Times reports.

• "The deluge of complaints about Toyota cars, first over floor mats, then over sticky pedals and recently over Prius brakes, has aroused criticism that federal regulators compromised vehicle safety by too often trusting carmakers' explanations," the Washington Post reports.

Technology: Franken Grills Chiefs Of NBC, Comcast

• "The chief executives of NBC Universal and Comcast received a tongue-lashing Thursday from a former NBC comedian-turned-senator who lectured them about the consequences of their proposed merger," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., "questioned during a hearing whether the companies would live up to the public-interest commitments they've made to federal regulators to win approval of the megamerger."

• "The revised version of the Google Books settlement with publishers and authors still does not address the Department of Justice's antitrust concerns with the deal," The Hill reports.

• "Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, addressing the worries of department employees whose personal information was released on the Internet, told them Thursday, 'These failures are simply unacceptable,'" the Washington Post reports.

Lobbying: NAACP Gives Reid An 'A'

• "Despite being at the center of a racial firestorm last month," Reid "scored an A on the latest report card from the NAACP," the Washington Post reports.

• The New York Times reports on how an "aggressive lobbying campaign" by lenders has jeopardized Democrats' plan to overhaul "the student loan business and ending government subsidies to private lenders."

• "The recession has battered the U.S. economy, but the lobbying industry is humming along in the nation's capital, even for companies that have shed thousands of jobs in the past year," USA Today reports. "The 20 trade associations and companies that spent the most on lobbying increased their spending by more than 20% in 2009 to $507.7 million, up from $418.2 million a year earlier, according to a USA TODAY analysis of reports compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics."

• "Chief executives at some of the biggest financial institutions are on a mission to repair their image with Congress and the public, part of a strategy to gain more influence over legislation that would overhaul financial regulations and intrude further into their business," the New York Times reports.

• "National Football League players have hired a new union chief from Washington's top lobbying firm and hired his former colleagues to help influence Congress," Bloomberg News reports.

Commentary: The Missing Big Picture

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Peggy Noonan and Robert Reich call for a less partisan, bigger-picture approach to solving the country's problems.

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