White House: U.S. To Announce Help For Homeowners
• "The Obama administration" today "will announce broad new initiatives to help troubled homeowners, potentially refinancing several million of them into fresh government-backed mortgages with lower payments," New York Times reports.
Health Care: Congress Passes Final Tweaks
• "The Congressional Democratic push to overhaul health care is finally, at very long last, done. House Democrats voted 220-207 Thursday night to approve a package of fixes to the underlying law after the Senate made two minor changes to the version the House first passed on Sunday night," Roll Call (subscription) reports.
• "He may have not have received a public thank you from President Barack Obama after the health care bill was signed into law earlier this week, but White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN he earned his own private high-five from the president," CNN reports.
Economy: Job Benefits Endangered As Wrangling Continues
• "For the second time in two months, unemployment insurance, COBRA healthcare benefits and other temporary programs appear set to expire amid congressional haggling over whether to pay for the extensions," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Senate Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement Thursday night to extend the programs for a week past their April 5 expiration date, but House Democrats rejected the deal, according to Senate Democratic and Republican aides."
• "Personal income in 42 states fell in 2009, the Commerce Department said Thursday," the Wall Street Journal reports.
National Security: Gates Relaxes 'Don't Ask' Provisions
• "Democratic Senators cheered Defense Secretary Robert Gates' announcement Thursday that he would ease enforcement rules of 'don't ask, don't tell,' a policy that bans gays from serving openly," Roll Call (subscription) reports.
• "Privacy concerns shouldn't hinder the rapid deployment of controversial full-body scanners at American airports, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday," The Hill reports.
• "Gates said Thursday that he wants Congress to approve by early spring $33 billion in supplemental spending to cover military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
Energy & Environment: Panel Considers Nuclear Waste Disposal Options
• Obama's nuclear waste commission, "meeting for the first time Thursday, seemed unlikely to suggest a geological substitute for the Yucca Mountain, Nev., waste repository, which was abandoned this month," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.
• Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., "told reporters Thursday that Democrats from conservative states will now be less likely to embrace the climate effort now that they've cast a tough vote on healthcare," The Hill reports.
• "Ten coastal Senate Democrats are warning a trio of senators at the heart of a potential deal on climate and energy legislation that they should reject a major expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling," CongressDailyPM (subscription) reports.
• More than a dozen bogus products submitted for approval since last June easily secured the EnergyStar label, the New York Times reports.
• The concept of cap-and-trade is in "wide disrepute, with opponents effectively branding it 'cap and tax,'" the Times also reports.
Congress: Six-Figure Salaries Common On Hill
• "Nearly 2,000 House of Representative staffers pulled down six-figure salaries in 2009, including 43 staffers who earned the maximum $172,500 -- or more than three times the median U.S. household income," Politico reports.
• "New York City police are investigating an envelope containing white powder that was sent to a Queens district office of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), the lawmaker said in a statement," Roll Call (subscription) reports.
• "A coffin was placed in front of" Missouri Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan's "house, another in a string of incidents against lawmakers after their vote Sunday on a health care overhaul," Politico reports.
World: Deal Reached On Greece Bailout
• "European leaders on Thursday approved a rescue package for Greece that would combine the promise of loans from Europe with assistance from the International Monetary Fund, a hybrid arrangement that could put part of Europe's common currency zone under the global agency's strictures for the first time," the Washington Post reports.
• "Mexican authorities Thursday announced the arrest of a man dubbed 'the king of heroin,' who allegedly was one of the biggest smugglers of the drug into the United States," the Los Angeles Times reports.
• "Authorities in two Indonesian provinces said Friday that they won't comply with a controversial anti-pornography law they say would stifle traditional Balinese and Papuan culture," AP reports.
Technology: Google Urges Congress To Promote Free Expression Online
• "Google Inc. told legislators that the U.S. government must support Internet freedoms, as Congress weighs bills that would deepen the government's role in advancing free expression on the Internet globally," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.
• In Britain, "Scotland Yard is advising administrators of public Web spaces to periodically poke through their customers' files and keep an eye out for suspicious activity," AP reports.
Lobbying: K Street Braces For Controversial Recess Appointment
• "Business associations and unions are preparing for a possible recess appointment by the White House of a controversial nominee to the National Labor Relations Board," The Hill reports.
Commentary: Pinning The Blame For Violence
• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Sarah Palin and other conservative leaders are blamed for supporters' violent reactions to health care reform. But Peggy Noonan warns that further inflamed rhetoric could become Democrats' fault.