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Obama to lay out new security strategy, while Biden says Iraq withdrawal is on schedule. Plus: 'Extenders' bill trimmed of $44 billion in Medicare physician payments.

White House: Obama To Unveil Security Strategy

• "The top White House counterterrorism official on Wednesday previewed President Obama's new national security strategy, which he said seeks to counter the global threat of terrorism and protect the homeland with a mix of military and intelligence capabilities, diplomacy and promotion of America's values," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "After forcing out his director of national intelligence last week," Obama "is reevaluating the man who had been described as a leading contender for the job, with senior administration officials saying the process of finding a new intelligence chief could take longer than they had intended," the Washington Post reports.


Energy & Environment: Administration To Suspend Arctic Drilling

• "The Obama administration" today "will suspend planned exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska until at least 2011," McClatchy Newspapers reports. "The suspension will be part of a report that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will give to" Obama.

• "Senate Democrats Wednesday indicated they would step up efforts to remove limits on how much responsible companies would have to pay in the event of a major oil spill like the one in the Gulf of Mexico," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Several days before the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, BP officials chose, partly for financial reasons, to use a type of casing for the well that the company knew was the riskier of two options, according to a BP document," the New York Times reports.


• The Environmental Protection Agency "will gather information about factory farms to determine whether more should be regulated as part of a settlement with environmental groups concerned about water pollution," AP reports.

• "Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 miners were killed last month, has received nearly two dozen citations from federal inspectors since the accident, many for electrical problems found in the course of their preliminary investigation, according to government data," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Health Care: Doctors' Medicare Payments Trimmed In 'Extenders' Bill

• "House Democratic leaders were preparing to bring a slimmed-down package of social service spending and tax break extensions to the floor today, after jettisoning roughly $44 billion worth of Medicare physician reimbursements and unemployment benefits," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "The new health care law does not allocate nearly enough money to cover the estimated 5.6 million to 7 million Americans with pre-existing medical conditions who will qualify for temporary high-risk insurance pools, according to a report scheduled for release" today, the New York Times reports.


• "The federal government will bear virtually the entire cost of expanding Medicaid under the new health-care law, according to a comprehensive new study," the Washington Post reports.

Congress: Senate To Take Up Border Security Amendments

• "Key Senate Democrats railed against Republican efforts to add border security funding to the emergency supplemental spending bill Wednesday but apparently will give in to a much more formidable foe -- their own party," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Democrats opposed GOP amendments that would have added more than $2 billion in border security funding to the spending bill" but "are expected to vote today on the amendments... with some modifications."

• "As the Senate considered a $59 billion supplemental spending package," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "Wednesday met with leaders of the presidential deficit-reduction commission," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Reid bristled when he was asked how Democrats' talk of deficit reduction could be taken seriously as Congress has passed billions of dollars in unoffset spending, such as the supplemental and with the "extenders" bill being crafted in the House waiting in the wings."

World: North Korea Cuts Hotline With Seoul

• "North Korea said" today "that it was cutting off a naval hotline used to prevent clashes on its disputed sea border with South Korea, while the South conducted a large naval drill in a show of force following the apparent sinking of one of its ships by a North Korean submarine," the New York Times reports.

• "Spain's governing Socialists won approval for a 15 billion euro ($18.4 billion) austerity package by just one vote" today, "avoiding a defeat that would have rattled markets and potentially brought down the government," Reuters reports.

National Security: Biden Says Iraq Withdrawal On Schedule

• Obama "called Iraq his predecessor's war of choice. Now it is his war to exit -- and quickly," the Washington Post reports. "The sensitive departure is being managed by" Vice President Joe Biden, "who says the U.S. military will reduce troop levels to 50,000 this summer, even if no new Iraqi government takes shape."

• "U.S. troops deployed to the Mexican border will take a backseat role to civilian security forces combating illegal flows of drugs and migrants and will not militarize the frontier, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico said on Wednesday," Reuters reports.

• "U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan are looking for ways to protect the most prized resource of the next and biggest military offensive of the war, the local government officials and leaders charged with winning over the population," Bloomberg News reports.

Economy: Geithner Criticizes European Economies

• "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner landed in Europe and reasserted a traditional American role of dispenser of financial advice to the world, telling European governments to get their fiscal houses in order," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "As Democrats pushed to pass a financial regulatory reform bill in recent weeks," Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., "and Senate Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Charles Schumer of New York took contrasting approaches in their quiet contest for support among Democrats," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

Politics: Indiana Republicans Consider Souder's Replacement

• "Three weeks ago, the primary in the northeastern Indiana district of then-Rep. Mark Souder drew more than 80,000 Republican voters to the polls," Roll Call reports. "But an approaching process of selecting a GOP nominee to replace the recently resigned Congressman will involve fewer than 500 party activists -- prompting interested candidates to run very targeted campaigns centered on personal contact."

• "Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) faces the toughest challenge of his career, according to a new survey conducted for his GOP challenger, as party strategists say they are increasingly confident in their ability to knock off the chairman of the House Budget Committee," Hotline On Call reports.

Technology: Panel Weighs Challenges Of Thwarting Terrorists On Web

• "A House Homeland Security panel Wednesday struggled with how to curb the recruitment of terrorists on the Internet while still protecting freedom of speech," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Facebook Inc. is changing its privacy controls, addressing a firestorm of criticism over recent moves that exposed more of its members' personal information online," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Lobbying: EADS Rebukes Boeing In Letter To Pelosi

• In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "EADS North America defended itself against rival Boeing's attempts to portray the company as a potential security threat," The Hill reports.

• "Aiming to blunt a regulatory and political backlash as oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP PLC has revved up its influence machine, relying on heavy hitters with deep Democratic roots," the Wall Street Journal reports.

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