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EARLYBIRD

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Financial regulation set for a cloture vote today, while Obama seeks $5 billion for USAID. Plus: Graham walks away from climate and energy bill.

White House: Boost For USAID In Question

• "A key pillar in President Barack Obama's foreign policy agenda is under fire on Capitol Hill as lawmakers debate whether more money would bolster the U.S. Agency for International Development or merely pump cash into an overextended organization," The Hill reports.

• Obama "used his weekly radio address on Saturday to press Congress to pass financial reform legislation. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), meanwhile, warned that the financial reform bill being pushed by Senate Democrats would lead to future bailouts of Wall Street banks," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

 

Economy: Regulation Bill Faces Key Early Vote

• "The Senate is set to hold a test vote today on a Democratic plan to overhaul regulation of Wall Street, a showdown with political risks for both sides," Bloomberg News reports. "While lead negotiators said" Sunday "they were moving closer to a compromise, there was no sign that any of the Republicans would break ranks in time for the procedural vote expected at 5 p.m. in Washington."

• "The two Democratic Senators charged with writing rules for the $450 trillion private swaps market are near a deal, and will include a provision to require banks to spin off swaps desks, people familiar with the talks said on Sunday," Reuters reports.

• "The U.S.'s disproportionate emphasis on pushing for a stronger yuan is a 'mistake,' the American Chamber of Commerce in China said," Bloomberg News reports. "A stronger Chinese currency isn't likely to result in a 'huge number' of jobs created, the group said in an annual white paper."

 

Energy & Environment: Graham Walks Away From Climate Change Bill

• "A dispute between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) over the timing of a climate bill is threatening the already-weak prospects for congressional action this year on the bill, one of" Obama's "top priorities," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "Immigration and climate-change legislation should both be acted on, White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers said, sidestepping a dispute over which issue Congress should take up next," Bloomberg News reports.

• "The current predicament of the Senate climate and energy proposal, which was attractive enough to lure the leaders of not only the Christian Coalition but also ConocoPhillips, Exelon and Duke Energy to a now-canceled bill launch" today, "underscores the fragility of its support," the Washington Post reports.

• "Backers of a bipartisan climate change bill are scrambling to revive efforts to pass legislation before the November midterms -- even as" Reid "sticks by plans to slow-walk the measure behind immigration reform," Politico reports.

 

• "Political pressure continues to build on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as he prepares to announce his decision this week on the fate of a proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., that has been stalled for nine years," the New York Times reports.

• "Officials worked Sunday to try to stop oil leaks coming from the deepwater well drilled by a rig that sank last week near Louisiana, but they acknowledged that it could be months before they are able to stem the flow of what is now about 42,000 gallons of oil a day pouring into the Gulf of Mexico," the Times also reports.

Supreme Court: GOP Filibuster Unlikely, McConnell Says

• 'Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn't write off the possibility that Republicans could use the filibuster against" Obama's "Supreme Court nominee, but he said it was unlikely that his party would do so," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

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• "The Congressional Black Caucus plans to meet this week to plot its strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court nomination," The Hill reports. "Caucus chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has urged" Obama "to consider a minority or woman candidate to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens."

• "The likelihood that health-care legislation and Wall Street reform will ultimately be decided in the Supreme Court underscores the importance of a new justice, with the White House and Democrats arguing that whoever replaces retiring" Stevens "will be key in moving the court to uphold laws protecting 'ordinary Americans,'" the Washington Post reports.

• "A year after Mr. Obama made 'empathy' one of his main criteria in picking his first Supreme Court justice, he is avoiding the word, which became radioactive, as he picks his second nominee," the New York Times reports. "Instead, he says he wants someone with 'a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people.'"

Health Care: States Move To Restrict Abortion

• "Dozens of states are passing or debating new restrictions on abortion, a trend fueled in part by passage of the nation's new health care law," USA Today reports. "Both sides of the hot-button issue are seeing new approaches to reduce abortions."

Politics: Steele Bets The Bank On Midterms

• Republican National Committee "spokesman Doug Heye said committee chairman Michael Steele is committed to using most, if not all, of its cash on hand in this year's midterm elections," The Hill reports. "Steele's decision means that the RNC is not going to hold back significant funds for the 2012 race for the White House."

• In the special election to replace John Murtha in Pennsylvania's 12th District, "ex-Murtha staffer Mark Critz (D) benefited financially from two fundraisers this past week with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and" Vice President Joe Biden, but the National Republican Congressional Committee "hopes to make him pay for those appearances," Hotline On Call reports.

• Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's "call to raise taxes threatened her political future, say political analysts, but her decision to crack down on illegal immigration could save it," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "A man Friday made death threats against staff working in Rep. Raul Grijalva's (D-Ariz.) Tuscon office, forcing both of his home state offices to shut down hours earlier than expected," The Hill reports.

• "With an Independent bid for Senate by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist appearing to be only a matter of time, political observers and operatives have begun to game out the mechanics of a third-party bid by the one-time darling of national Republicans," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

National Security: Troop Activity In Kandahar Increases

• "Small bands of elite American Special Operations forces have been operating with increased intensity for several weeks in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan's largest city, picking up or picking off insurgent leaders to weaken the Taliban in advance of major operations, senior administration and military officials say," the New York Times reports.

• "The CIA is using new, smaller missiles and advanced surveillance techniques to minimize civilian casualties in its targeted killings of suspected insurgents in Pakistan's tribal areas, according to current and former officials in the United States and Pakistan," the Washington Post reports.

World: Okinawans Rally Against Marine Base

• "Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he'll work to 'ease the burden' of the people of Okinawa after tens of thousands of residents rallied yesterday against keeping an American military base on the island," Bloomberg News reports.

• "Sudan's elections commission is due to announce the results of this month's landmark elections, with President Omar al-Bashir expected to retain power," BBC News reports.

• "Leaders of Thailand's 'Red Shirt' protesters told their followers" today "to ditch their signature crimson attire so they can go undercover in case of a possible government crackdown on their stronghold in the country's tense capital," AP reports.

Transportation: Auto Dealers Resist Lending Bill

• "The nation's auto dealers head to the U.S. Senate" today "to play man-to-man defense to stop a bill that would for the first time put their lending business under a single federal watchdog," the Detroit Free Press reports. "Even though the plan has the support of the Obama administration and key Democrats, past showdowns suggest it's never wise to bet against car dealers."

• "UAL Corp.'s United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc. are continuing their merger talks, but disagreements have emerged over which share price to use for the stock-swap deal, people familiar with the matter said Sunday," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "If they can sort this out, the two airlines are well on their way to consummating a merger. If they can't, the talks will break down, as they did two years ago."

• "Toyota Motor Corp. nearly doubled its global production in March, as a low basis of comparison from last year canceled out the debilitating effects of world-wide vehicle recalls," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

Technology: Hearings To Address Internet Regulation

• "Congress continues its scrutiny of federal regulatory efforts to expand access to high-speed Internet service with two hearings this week," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Senator Charles Schumer," D-N.Y., "on Sunday urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to provide guidelines for social networking sites, like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, on how private information submitted by online users can be used and disseminated," ABC News reports.

Lobbying: Unions Unsure Of Campaign Finance Bill

• "America's largest labor unions are withholding their support for now of legislation that would restrict corporate spending on political campaigns," The Hill reports. "Officials with both the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) said their unions have not decided yet on whether or not to support the legislative response to the Supreme Court's recent ruling in the Citizens United case."

• "With the legislative year truncated by the health care debate and midterm elections, lobbyists say sweeping updates to the federal tax code are on hold while they fight for smaller tweaks that must reach" Obama's "desk by Jan. 1," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "The food industry and major business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are threatening to withdraw support for a long-pending bill to improve food safety, saying they are upset by a proposed amendment that would ban bisphenol-A, a controversial chemical, from food and beverage containers," the Washington Post reports.

Roll Call (subscription) reports on the lobbyists Comcast has hired to help with its merger with NBC.

Commentary: Financial Reform's Real Fallout?

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Paul Krugman warns that financial services reform won't fix the big problem while Kevin Hassett suggests the new laws could actually boost Goldman Sachs.

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