Health Care: Abortion Debate Again Complicating Bill
• "Democratic leaders had aimed to have a healthcare overhaul package to" the Congressional Budget Office "on Friday or at least over the weekend, but as of Monday evening that had not happened, a spokesman for" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "While leadership haggles over the package, which will include changes to the Senate-passed bill, federal funding of abortion is getting a lot of notice."
"President Barack Obama's health care bill would change federal policy on abortion, but not open the spigot of taxpayer dollars that some abortion opponents fear," AP reports.
• "At the heart of" Obama's "drive to rein in health costs is a proposal for federal review and regulation of health insurance premiums, with a new agency empowered to block excessive rate increases," the New York Times reports. "State officials are leery of the proposal, which raises a host of questions: How would Congress define 'excessive'? How would the new federal power relate to state insurance regulation?"
• "A handful of House committee chairmen are either undecided about or plan to reject the healthcare reform bill that is expected to be voted on as early as next week," The Hill reports.
White House: Obamas Celebrate International Women's Day
• "President Obama, invoking the marital dictum that a husband will never get in trouble for saying that his wife is smarter, marked International Women's Day on Monday by, first of all, poking fun at himself," the New York Times reports. "Many accomplished women like his wife, Michelle Obama, the president said, have probably looked across the dinner table at their husbands and thought: 'I'm smarter than that guy.'"
World: Turnout Strong In Iraqi Elections
• "Iraqi officials announced Monday that 62 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Sunday's parliamentary elections, a total slightly lower than in the 2005 national elections but higher than in last year's provincial elections," the Washington Post reports.
• "Indonesian counterterrorism forces stormed an Internet cafe and a nearby house on the outskirts of Jakarta" today, "killing three suspected terrorists and arresting two others," the New York Times reports.
• "Details are beginning to emerge from attacks Sunday on four villages in central Nigeria, where witnesses say members of the predominantly Muslim Fulani ethnic group targeted villages that were home to members of the mostly Christian Berom ethnic group," the Wall Street Journal reports. "On Monday, local officials counted 378 bodies in the villages of Dogo Nahawa, Rasat, Zot and Shen."
National Security: Obama Will Tap Retired General To Lead TSA
• "Obama plans to nominate retired Major Gen. Robert A. Harding to head the Transportation Security Administration, the White House said Monday," the Wall Street Journal reports.
• "Northrop Grumman has dropped out of the bidding for the" Air Force's "$35 billion tanker contract," saying Monday that "the bidding process favored its competitor," The Hill reports. "The decision is a huge victory for rival Boeing, which is now expected to be the only company to bid for the lucrative contract."
• "Leading Congressional Republicans are arguing that getting tough on terrorism means trying all foreign terrorism suspects before military commissions," the New York Times reports. "But national security officials who served in the Bush administration say that taking away the criminal justice option would weaken the government's hand."
Politics: GOP Hopeful For House Pickups In New Jersey
• "New Jersey Republicans argue Gov. Chris Christie's (R) impressive performance in several House districts during last year's gubernatorial race will help the party pick up seats in the midterm elections," The Hill reports.
• "New York Republican Rick Lazio's lackluster gubernatorial campaign has propelled some members of his own party to court a Democrat to switch sides and lead the charge against likely Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo this fall," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Top Republican officials are scheduled to meet" today "with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy in Albany, signaling a lack of confidence in Mr. Lazio's low-buzz campaign and his anemic fund raising."
Energy & Environment: Murkowski, EPA In Standoff
• "Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski," R-Alaska, wants EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson "to give her equal treatment in responding quickly to a letter" she sent Friday "regarding EPA's plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
• "Obama is expected to meet at the White House today with 14 senators -- including several moderates from both parties who are potential swing votes for a Senate climate and energy strategy in the works," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
• "Mideast rivals Israel and Syria" today "each announced ambitions to develop nuclear energy, with Israel facing the prospect that its plan could bring new attention to its secretive nuclear activities," AP reports.
Economy: Greek PM Implores U.S. To Address Its Debt Crisis
• "Ahead of a meeting" today with Obama, "Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said the United States cannot afford to ignore the financial woes of his country and, by extension, Europe," AP reports.
• "Millions of Americans have been forced to rely on unemployment payments for extended periods as the nation struggles through its longest period of high joblessness in a generation, and critics are taking aim, saying that the Depression-era program created as a temporary bridge for laid-off workers is turning into an expensive entitlement," the Washington Post reports.
Transportation: Airlines Seek Exemptions From Tarmac Rule
• "JetBlue and Delta want temporary exemptions from a new government rule that will limit the time airline passengers can be held on the tarmac," AP reports. "They say delays caused by the closing of a main runway at Kennedy International Airport in New York could cost them millions in fines."
• "The federal agency in charge of $8 billion in economic stimulus spending on high-speed-rail projects doesn't have the staff or expertise to properly oversee the money, government investigators and congressional critics say," USA Today reports.
• "Dozens of former federal officials are playing leading roles in helping carmakers handle federal investigations of auto defects, including those for Toyota's runaway-acceleration problems," the Washington Post reports.
• "Embattled Japanese auto giant Toyota launched a broad counter-attack on Monday aimed at refuting research that suggests electronics may be at the heart of runaway acceleration problems that have led the automaker to recall more than 6 million vehicles," the Post also reports.
Technology: Industry Fears FCC Seeks More Authority Over Broadband
• "Major telecommunications and cable companies are growing increasingly concerned the" Federal Communications Commission "will reclassify broadband as a heavily regulated telecom service -- a move that could mire the commission in protracted court battles and dissuade investments in the technology, they warn," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
• Roll Call reports on the ethical problems some Hill and campaign staffers may run into when using social networking tools both for personal and work use.
Lobbying: Dodd Faces Pressure Over Consumer Agency
• "Financial services lobbyists are upping the pressure on Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), a key Republican on the panel, to limit the scope of a proposed consumer protection agency," Roll Call reports.
• Leaders of nearly a dozen grass-roots immigrant rights groups excoriated" Obama "and congressional Democrats on Monday, accusing them of moving too slowly to legalize the status of undocumented immigrants and citing a record number of deportations in 2009," the Washington Post reports.
• "In a bid to secure a much-needed bipartisan victory, the Obama administration is trying to secure passage of protections for government whistleblowers. But some advocacy groups are complaining that the legislation does not go far enough to protect government employees in the national security field and, in fact, would roll back protections that FBI whistleblowers now have," Politico reports.
• "Insurance industry executives sat down with administration officials in the White House last week to justify their rising premium costs, attributing them to increasing medical costs," Politico reports. "But it's an answer" Obama "apparently wasn't buying."
Commentary: The Real Source Of Obama's Trouble?
• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Bob Herbert explains why voters would prefer jobs over health care.