Congress: Rangel Faces Ethics Trial
• "A House investigative panel has found 'substantial reason to believe' that Representative Charles B. Rangel," D-N.Y., "violated a range of ethics rules," the New York Times reports. "The finding means that he must face a public trial before the House ethics committee, the first member of Congress to be forced to do so since 2002."
• "The Senate sent back to the House Thursday night a stripped-down $59 billion war funding bill, after striking all of the added education assistance which Democrats had wanted to avert threatened teacher layoffs in the fall," Politico reports. "With the August recess looming, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) faces growing pressure from the White House and Pentagon to accept the Senate verdict and not prolong the fight any further."
• Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., "has introduced a new version of a controversial campaign-finance reform bill," called the DISCLOSE Act, with "changes he hopes will give Democrats enough votes to break a filibuster," Politico reports. "By late Thursday evening, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the legislation and announced that the Senate will vote on the motion to open debate on the bill Tuesday afternoon."
• "The annual midyear review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will project" today "a roughly $1.3 trillion deficit for the 2010 fiscal year if it tracks the latest projections by the Treasury Department and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)," The Hill reports. "That number is less than the White House's initial deficit projection of $1.56 trillion thanks to increased corporate tax revenue and the repayment of bank bailout money."
White House: GOP Moderates Oppose Recess Appointment
• "Three Senate Republicans who provided crucial votes for passage of the financial regulatory overhaul wrote to President Obama on Thursday and asked him not to make a recess appoint for the director of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts wrote to Obama and asked that he allow his nominee to face a Senate confirmation vote."
• "Liberal Democrats are skeptical about President Obama's decision to appoint a senior official from the Clinton administration to lead the" OMB, The Hill reports. "They suspect Jacob 'Jack' Lew may share an affection for market-driven reforms they say were too popular among Clinton's staff and that he would support cuts to Social Security and Medicare."
• "Education Secretary Arne Duncan proposed Thursday that for-profit colleges be required to show through certain new measures that their graduates are not saddled with too much debt, an initiative he said was meant to protect students from 'a few bad actors' in the industry," the Washington Post reports. "Starting in the 2012-13 academic year, for-profit colleges would have to demonstrate that they prepare students for 'gainful employment' in order to remain eligible for federal aid."
Politics: Democrats Plan Ad Buy To Defend 40 Candidates
• "The Democrats' strategy to preserve their House majority became clearer Thursday as the party made a $28 million investment in television advertising for the final weeks of the fall campaign, a plan meant to build a defensive firewall to protect freshmen and some vulnerable longtime incumbents," the New York Times reports. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved television time on behalf of 40 lawmakers, 18 of whom were first elected two years ago."
• "Unhappiness" with Obama's agenda "has been reflected in polls of Hispanics, who number more than 45 million and are the country's fastest-growing minority," National Journal (subscription) reports. "Between March and June, Obama's job-approval rating among Latino voters dropped 6 points, according to a Gallup daily tracking poll -- and has fallen 10 points since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, his support among blacks has slipped just 2 percent this year, and white voters' approval is down 3 percent since January."
• "In a 5-to-1 vote, the" Federal Election Commission "approved the Club for Growth's plan to create a political committee designed to collect unlimited individual donations that it would spend on commercials for and against federal candidates. The commissioners also approved by a 5-to-1 vote a similar request by Commonsense Ten, a Democratic group," CQ Politics reports.
• "Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman is considering a run for chairmanship of the" Republican National Committee "and has begun talking to associates about taking on Michael Steele, should the embattled current chairman seek another term in January," Politico reports.
Economy: Geithner Advises Letting Bush Tax Cuts For Wealthy Expire
• "Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Thursday rejected calls from some Democrats to extend tax cuts for the nation's top earners past their 2010 expiration date, saying the fragile recovery is no reason to avoid raising taxes on the wealthy," the Washington Post reports.
• "Obama signed a six-month extension of emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed on Thursday, restoring aid to nearly 3 million people whose checks have been cut off since the program expired in early June," the Washington Post reports. "The White House signing ceremony came barely three hours after the House approved the $34 billion measure on a vote of 272 to 152."
• "In a report to be released" today, "Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Obama administration's special master for executive compensation, is expected to name 17 financial companies that made questionable payouts totaling $1.58 billion immediately after accepting billions of dollars of taxpayer aid," the New York Times reports. "The group includes Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and the American International Group as well as small lenders like Boston Private Financial Holdings."
• "China will consider publishing an effective exchange rate for the yuan against a range of other currencies in an effort to de-emphasize its value against the dollar, in a further indication of how Beijing plans to manage the yuan since effectively decoupling it from the U.S. currency," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.
Health Care: Abortion Coverage Up For Interpretation
• "As last week's skirmish over abortion coverage in state high-risk pools made clear, some sort of legislative fix might be required as confusion remains over exactly what provisions" of the new health care overhaul law "the president's March 24 executive order applies to. The order only explicitly prohibits federal dollars from being used in state insurance exchanges and the community health center fund," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
• "Thursday was a tough day for insurance companies, as the industry faced attacks from all over Washington on companies' increasing profits, lobbying efforts on healthcare overhaul law provisions and the release of" Health and Human Services "regulations to allow consumers to appeal insurance decisions," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
Energy & Environment: Democrats Punt On Climate Bill
• "Reid on Thursday abandoned efforts to take up energy and climate legislation before the August recess, disappointing liberal members of his caucus, deflecting condemnation from moderate senators in both parties and setting the stage for a full-throttled battle over looming" Environmental Protection Agency regulations, CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
• "While Senate Democrats have punted for now on a bill to cut power plant carbon emissions, a small band of environmental groups and utility companies have forged a tentative deal that could help revive the measure down the road," The Hill reports.
• Politico reports on the blame game that ensued after Reid's announcement Thursday.
• China "is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target," China Daily reports. "The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and attended by officials from related ministries, enterprises, environmental exchanges and think tanks, a participant told China Daily on Wednesday on condition of anonymity."
• "Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told lawmakers Thursday that he will use his regulatory authority to impose strict new rules to remedy the revolving-door problems in his department," the Washington Post reports.
Technology: Universal Service Bill On The Table
• "House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., Thursday introduced his long-awaited bill that would overhaul the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes telecommunications costs in low-income and rural areas," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "The measure, which he authored with Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., would expand the fund to include support for broadband service, widen the base of support for the USF and require the FCC to develop a cost model for calculating high-cost support that includes the cost of providing both voice and broadband services."
• "Facebook issued an apology Thursday for deleting a post by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin," Politico reports. "Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes explained in a statement that a Palin post criticizing the building of a mosque near ground zero in New York City was removed by an automated system and had nothing to do with the content of the post."
National Security: Karzai's Plan For Negotiations Opposed
• "The man who served as President Hamid Karzai's top intelligence official for six years has launched an urgent campaign to warn Afghans that their leader has lost conviction in the fight against the Taliban and is recklessly pursuing a political deal with insurgents," the Washington Post reports. "In speeches to small groups in Kabul and across northern Afghanistan over the past month, Amarullah Saleh has repeated his belief that Karzai's push for negotiation with insurgents is a fatal mistake and a recipe for civil war."
• "U.S. and Afghan authorities are setting up a joint task force to monitor the billions of dollars in cash flown out of Afghanistan every year, officials said, as the U.S. announced debt-relief for the war-ravaged country," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "U.S. and Afghan officials say they believe at least some of the money leaving the country comes from corruption and opium trafficking."
• "The Obama administration's announcement Thursday that it will resume relations with Indonesia's special forces, despite the unit's history of alleged atrocities and assassinations, is the most significant move yet by the United States to strengthen ties in East Asia as a hedge against China's rise," the Washington Post reports. "The decision to resume relations with Kopassus, the elite special forces of the Indonesian military, prompted strong criticism from advocates for human rights."
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