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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

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Democrats woo GOP votes on financial reform. Plus: BP installs new cap as Obama administration issues new drilling moratorium.

July 13, 2010

Congress: Snowe Puts Financial Reform On Course

• "Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, will vote for the financial regulatory conference report, she announced Monday evening, likely giving Senate Democrats 60 votes and appearing to ensure enactment of the measure," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Fellow Republican Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have also said they will vote 'yes.'"

• "As the legislative drama over the financial regulatory overhaul nears an end, lobbying groups are turning their attention toward the next step in the process: the numerous rules and studies to be conducted as outlined in the 2,307-page measure," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Two senators leading a bipartisan crusade to end the much-maligned use of 'secret holds' to surreptitiously block bills and appointments have encountered an ironic obstacle: A single senator keeps blocking their efforts," Politico reports. "Five times, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has thwarted passage of an amendment that would eliminate secret holds in the Senate -- and he's vowing not to budge until changes are made."

 

Supreme Court: Graham Could Be Kagan's Lone GOP Vote In Committee

• "Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sounds set to continue bucking GOP colleagues and vote for confirmation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Asked Monday if he has decided how he will vote, Graham said, 'not completely, but she did a very good job. She handled herself well.'"

• "Senate candidates in tight races across the country have shied away from taking a firm position on" Kagan's nomination, The Hill reports. "Republican Senate candidates Mark Kirk in Illinois and Carly Fiorina in California... have yet to say how they'd vote." And three Democrats "facing conservative electorates this fall, Jack Conway in Kentucky, Robin Carnahan in Missouri and Rep. Charlie Melancon in Louisiana, also have shied away from endorsing Kagan."

White House: Obama Hits Lows In New Poll

• "Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low," according to a Washington Post poll. "Nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy."

• Of all major issues that could be addressed, "80 percent of adults said it was very important for Congress to act on the employment situation," according to the latest Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. "The results might be of interest to President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership team, who will meet this morning in the Roosevelt Room to discuss legislative priorities before lawmakers adjourn for the August recess."

• "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. was wrong to say that reaching out to the Muslim world was a top priority of the U.S. space agency," the Washington Post reports.

Politics: Rubio Beats Crist In Fundraising

• "Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio raised $4.5 million in the second quarter of 2010, his Senate campaign announced Monday, bringing the onetime insurgent candidate's receipts for the cycle to more than $11 million," Politico reports. "The haul surpasses Rubio's huge first-quarter take of $3.6 million and sets a new national record for this cycle, blowing past the $4.3 million mark previously set by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist."

• "Conventional wisdom suggests Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) is the most vulnerable GOPer in Congress, seeking re-election in a heavily African-American district in which any scandal-free Dem should easily top half the vote. But conventional wisdom has been wrong before, and a new poll for Cao's campaign hopes to prove it wrong again," Hotline On Call reports. "Cao led state Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) by a 51%-26% margin, according to a survey conducted May 27-June 2 by LA pollster Verne Kennedy."

Economy: Democrats Consider Auto-Enrolling Americans In IRAs

• "The White House and congressional Democrats, with the backing of the AARP, will soon put forth a plan to automatically enroll new private-sector employees in investment retirement accounts," The Hill reports. "The Obama administration sees the auto-enrollment system as a way to increase savings."

• "Democrats are pushing back against charges that they are anti-business," The Hill reports. "Senate Democrats this week will advance small business lending legislation that would set up a $30 billion fund designed to increase the flow of credit to small businesses. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke Monday morning to a conference of small business and banking leaders to highlight what" Obama "has done to help the private sector."

• "In a report due Wednesday, the president's economists say the loan guarantees and grants extended under the Recovery Act -- matched by billions of dollars in private investment -- have the potential to 'stand up' new industries that could employ thousands of Americans by 2015," the Washington Post reports. "They estimate that for each dollar in federal investment translates to $3.50 of total investment."

Health Care: Drugmaker Hid Tests From Regulators, Documents Show

• "Instead of publishing" results that showed its diabetes drug Avandia riskier to the heart than Actos, the drug giant SmithKline Beecham "spent the next 11 years trying to cover them up, according to documents recently obtained by The New York Times. The company did not post the results on its Web site or submit them to federal drug regulators, as is required in most cases by law."

• "Obama today will introduce the country's first national HIV/AIDS strategy... but the strategy is expected to include recommendations for the reallocation of federal funds to states and populations with the highest prevalence of cases, a plan getting a mixed reaction from advocacy groups," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Several states are preparing to make deep cuts to Medicaid as a federal stalemate over funding for the poor drags on -- even as states face mandates to expand the program under the new health-care law," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Frustration is mounting with Congress's failure to pass an extension of additional Medicaid funding to plug holes in state budgets."

• Howard University "received $1.5 million from the Obama administration to train student nurses and others in sciences such as radiology and occupational therapy," reports the Washington Post. "The award was a fraction of $96 million in grants doled out by the Department of Health and Human Services on July 1 to hundreds of health-profession programs at colleges and universities nationwide."

Energy & Environment: BP Installs New Cap On Well

• "BP PLC said Monday night it had installed a new sealing cap that could halt the oil spewing from its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising the possibility that a nearly three-month long environmental crisis could soon be contained," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "It could be another 48 hours before the company knows if the cap has entirely sealed the well."

• "Senators on both sides of the aisle reiterated that legislation addressing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and reforming the government's offshore drilling regulations is the only part of the Senate's energy and climate package certain to pass this summer," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "But even that portion of the overall legislation could prove tricky; especially given the Obama administration on Monday issued a new deep-water drilling moratorium in the Gulf, sparking a flurry of partisan comments."

National Security: Castro Goes On TV, Warns Of Nuclear War

• "In one of his first public appearances since falling ill four years ago, a frail-looking Fidel Castro went on Cuban television on Monday night and warned in a near whisper that the United States was increasing the chances of nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula and Iran," the New York Times reports.

• "Authorities are detaining a 12th, previously undisclosed person implicated in the federal probe that busted a Cold War-style Russian spy ring, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "The bombings orchestrated by Somalia's al-Shabab militia that killed at least 74 people watching the World Cup finals on television Sunday night are the latest sign of the growing ambitions of al-Qaeda's regional affiliates outside the traditional theaters of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq," the Washington Post reports. "The attacks, intended to inflict maximum damage on civilian targets, mark the first major international assault by Somali militants in a region where the United States and its allies are attempting to stem the rise of Islamist militancy."

• "The International Criminal Court's judges on Monday charged Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with orchestrating a bloody campaign of genocide against Darfur's three main ethnic groups, the first time the Hague-based court has accused a sitting head of state of committing the most egregious international crime," the Washington Post reports.

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