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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

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As deal nears on extenders, Reid outlines plan for the summer. Plus: Some oil drilling could soon return.

June 8, 2010

Congress: Reid Outlines Big Summer Agenda

• "Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) laid out" a "daunting summer agenda for the Senate on Monday afternoon, including a tax extenders bill, an emergency extension of unemployment benefits, a small-business jobs bill, the financial reform conference report and a war funding bill," Politico reports.

• "Democratic aides said 60 votes were nearly in sight for a huge package of tax breaks, unemployment benefits, physician payments and other measures," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "A group of Senate Democrats negotiating a softer tax hit on real estate and venture capital fund managers was nearing agreement late Monday."

White House: Agencies Asked To Make Cuts

• "The White House is directing agencies to develop plans for trimming at least 5 percent from their budgets by identifying programs that do little to advance their missions or President Obama's agenda," the Washington Post reports. "In a joint memo to be delivered" this morning, "White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and budget director Peter Orszag order agency heads to go further by listing the programs that 'are least critical' to their overall goals."

 

• "Helen Thomas, the longtime White House correspondent made famous for her no-holds-barred questioning of presidents, announced her resignation Monday following controversial remarks she made about Israel," The Hill reports.

Energy & Environment: Some Oil Drilling Could Soon Be Reopened

• "The Obama administration, facing rising anger on the Gulf Coast over the loss of jobs and income from a drilling moratorium, said Monday that it would move quickly to release new safety requirements that would allow the reopening of offshore oil and gas exploration in shallow waters," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the oil company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways," ProPublica reports. "The confidential inquiries, which have not previously been made public, focused on a rash of problems at BP's Alaska oil-drilling operations. They described instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured employees not to report problems and cut short or delayed inspections to reduce production costs."

• "Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has softened his Monday morning claim that climate change legislation will be offered as an amendment to a narrower energy bill on the Senate floor, stating through a spokesman that no decisions have been made," The Hill reports.

Politics: More Trouble For Incumbents On Primary Day

• "As voters head to the polls" today "for a crucial set of primary elections, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds antipathy toward their elected officials rising and anti-incumbent sentiment at an all-time high," the Washington Post reports. "The national survey shows that 29 percent of Americans now say they are inclined to support their House representative in November, even lower than in 1994."

• Organizing for America is launching a $50 million campaign "to try to re-create the fervor of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and lure those first-time voters back to the polls to help Democratic candidates this fall," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has guaranteed North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven slots on the Appropriations and Energy and Natural Resources committees if he wins election in November as expected," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Two men face federal charges for threatening Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) after he voted for healthcare reform," The Hill reports. "The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan on Monday charged Russell Hesch, 73, and his son David Hesch, 50, with conspiring to threaten, assault, kidnap or murder a U.S. official."

Economy: Public Not Convinced On Turnaround, Poll Finds

• "Obama quickly seized on last week's job numbers report to tout his administration's efforts on the economy. But he still has a way to go with the public," according to a new poll from National Journal. "Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said the president's economic policies have had no effect, and 29 percent said they have made things worse."

• "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered cautious reassurance that the U.S. recovery is on track, despite recent turmoil in financial markets and worries about the health of Europe's economy," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "Goldman Sachs has been subpoenaed by the bipartisan commission created by Congress to investigate the causes of the financial crisis because company officials failed to comply with a request for documents," CongressDailyPM (subscription) reports.

• "Bank of America, owner of former mortgage giant Countrywide Financial, will pay $108 million in refunds to hundreds of thousands of homeowners under one of the largest judgments imposed by the Federal Trade Commission," the Washington Post reports. "The settlement, announced by the FTC on Monday, affects homeowners who were charged excessive fees by Countrywide before it was purchased by Bank of America in July 2008."

National Security: Clinton Rebuffed In Case For Honduras At OAS

• "Last year's coup in Honduras... continues to divide Latin America and the United States," the Washington Post reports. At a meeting of the Organization of American States on Monday, "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged allowing Honduras to rejoin, saying the new president, Porfirio Lobo, has shown "strong and consistent commitment to democratic governance and constitutional order. But a majority of ministers opposed even adding the question of Honduras to the agenda."

• "Ten NATO troops were killed Monday in bombings and shootings in eastern and southern Afghanistan, military officials said, in the deadliest day for the U.S.-led international force this year," the Post also reports. "Also on Monday, two people, including an American civilian contractor, were killed when three suicide bombers launched a coordinated attack at a police training center in Kandahar city, officials said."

• "Three months after abortion nearly derailed President Obama's health care bill, the hot-button issue is back before Congress with an amendment to the Senate's defense policy bill that would end the military's long-established ban on allowing abortions in its overseas hospitals," the Washington Times reports.

• "As its leader, Kim Jong-il, was watching, North Korea's rubber-stamp Parliament fired its prime minister and elevated his brother-in-law to the government's No. 2 post on Monday in a sweeping government reshuffle," the New York Times reports. "Analysts said the changes were aimed at defusing public anger over a disastrous revaluation of its currency while consolidating Mr. Kim's power at a time of considerable turmoil."

Health Care: Some Could Lose Insurance Under Overhaul Provision

• "Part of the health care overhaul due to kick in this September could strip more than 1 million people of their insurance coverage," Politico reports. "Under the provision, insurance companies will no longer be able to apply broad annual caps on the amount of money they pay out on health policies. Employer groups say the ban could essentially wipe out a niche insurance market that many part-time workers and retail and restaurant employees have come to rely on."

• Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday "announced $51 million in grants for states to boost health insurance rate review capabilities," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Sebelius said the grants, which are limited at $1 million per state in 2010, would help states hold insurance companies accountable."

• "In February 2009, as part of legislation to revive the economy, Congress provided tens of billions of dollars to help doctors and hospitals buy equipment to computerize patients' medical records," the New York Times reports. "But the eligibility criteria proposed by the Obama administration are so strict and so ambitious that hardly any doctors or hospitals can meet them, not even the most technologically advanced providers like Kaiser Permanente and Intermountain Healthcare."

• "Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Victoria Kennedy -- widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) -- are expected to be named co-chairmen of a $125 million campaign that White House allies are rolling out to defend health care reform amid growing signs Democrats are failing to get political traction on the issue," Politico reports.

Supreme Court: Leahy Accuses GOP Of Litmus Test

• "Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Monday accused the GOP of attempting to impose a judicial litmus test on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, arguing that Republicans 'demand justices who will guarantee the results they want,'" Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Republicans have found little in Kagan's public statements, private utterances and nonjudicial paper trail to make a major fuss about. When more than 46,000 pages of her work in the Clinton White House were released Friday afternoon, only a handful of Republicans and their conservative allies off Capitol Hill raised concerns about some of her liberal-leaning positions," Politico reports. "All of which is making some wonder: What if they held a confirmation battle, but nobody showed up for a fight?"

Technology: FCC Told Its Plan May Hamper First Responders

• "Three senior Homeland Security officials in the Bush administration say a federal plan for reallocating the nation's limited airwaves could endanger public safety by limiting the ability of first responders to communicate during crises like 9/11," The Hill reports.

Lobbying: Top Aides Lure Lobbyists To DCCC Fundraiser

• "This week, K Streeters are expected to cut checks in droves for the chance to mingle with about 50 senior House staffers who are headlining a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Individual attendees are expected to shell out $1,000, while political action committees need to come up with $2,500 to score a seat... but lobbyists say it's worth the price tag to get a rare kind of access with high-level staffers."

• "A push to require bank-holding companies to hold better capital has sparked a lobbying drive because it would force the industry to raise as much as $1.3 trillion from its balance sheet if the changes were to be enacted, according to one estimate," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Ten Washington lobbying firms have represented a whopping 130 different clients in the financial regulatory reform debate -- raking in millions of dollars as the bill heads for final passage," the Center for Public Integrity reports.

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