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EARLYBIRD

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WH ramps up pressure as Senate prepares for DISCLOSE Act vote. Plus: Leaked documents could force Obama to defend war effort.

National Security: Leaked Docs May Force Obama's Hand

• "In the first 24 hours after the unauthorized release of more than 91,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, a few things became clear to the officials, lawmakers and experts reading them," the Washington Post reports. First, "new evidence that the war effort is plagued by unreliable Afghan and Pakistani partners seems unlikely to undermine fragile congressional support or force the Obama administration to shift strategy." Second, "the disclosure of what are mostly battlefield updates does not appear to represent a major threat to national security or troops' safety, according to military officials." And "the documents' release could compel President Obama to explain more forcefully the war's importance, military analysts said."

• "The remains of one of two U.S. sailors who went missing in Afghanistan last week have been found in the east of the country, the NATO-led force said on Tuesday, and troops were still searching for the second man," Reuters reports.

 

• "European nations significantly broadened economic sanctions against Iran on Monday in what was described as an effort to force Tehran to resume serious negotiations on its disputed nuclear program," the Washington Post reports. "The new measures targeting petroleum, banking, shipping, insurance and transportation in addition to nuclear-related industries were approved in Brussels by foreign ministers of the 27-nation European Union after weeks of diplomatic consultations and strong pressure from the Obama administration."

• "Because of poor record-keeping and lax oversight, the Department of Defense cannot account for how it spent $2.6 billion that belonged to the Iraqi government, according to the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction," the Washington Post reports.

White House: Obama Speaks Out On DISCLOSE Act

• "President Obama on Monday sought political advantage from the expected defeat of a campaign finance measure that he has championed by pre-emptively attacking its Republican opponents for 'nothing less than a vote to allow corporate and special-interest takeovers of our elections,'" the New York Times reports. "Obama's statement to reporters at the White House was added to his daily schedule after it became clear that the Senate would vote Tuesday on" a new version of the DISCLOSE Act.

 

• "The White House on Monday gave the strongest signal yet that it may pick Elizabeth Warren to head a new consumer bureau created by the Wall Street reform bill," The Hill reports. "White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday said Warren is 'very confirmable' for a position in charge of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA)."

• "Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will deliver major speeches this week on their $4.35 billion Race to the Top school reform program, pushing back against complaints that it promotes unproven methods and ignores long-standing inequities in public education," Politico reports. "Speaking at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Duncan is expected to name a list of state finalists for the controversial grant program's second round of funding and to explain why Race to the Top -- the crown jewel of the administration's education agenda -- must continue."

Congress: Pelosi Avoids Answers On Rangel

• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "on Monday deflected questions about whether House Democrats are worried about the spectacle of an ethics proceeding against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., as the midterm election approaches," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Pelosi gave no indication that House Democratic leaders -- as of Monday -- might be privately trying to get Rangel to reach a deal to avoid a public proceeding, despite some speculation that such maneuvering is taking place."

• "Despite increasing calls from lawmakers for deficit reduction, one military program opposed by the White House and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates -- an alternate engine for the joint strike fighter -- so far refuses to die," the New York Times reports. "House members are expected to rebuff [Gates] once again on Tuesday on the engine, one of the main programs he has vowed to kill."

 

• "Facing a tough re-election battle, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., is fighting for a vehicle to move a disaster aid package benefiting her state's farmers that she has touted as evidence of her sway as Senate Agriculture chairwoman," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "Lincoln has won Majority Leader [Harry] Reid's agreement to add" the roughly $2 billion disaster "package to a small-business jobs bill he might offer this week."

Energy & Environment: House, Senate Unveil Spill Bills

• "With comprehensive climate and energy legislation off the table, the Senate is gearing up to battle over oil spill liability measures that could prove divisive when Majority Leader Reid brings legislation to the floor this week," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "House Democrats on Monday unveiled their strategy to respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a package headed for the floor late this week that would shore up offshore rig safety standards and block BP from obtaining new offshore drilling leases," The Hill reports.

• "As Robert Dudley prepares to take over as the new chief executive of troubled oil giant BP PLC, his to-do list includes overhauling a U.S. operation badly tainted by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; mending fences with perturbed U.S. government officials; and possibly making further executive changes at the top of his own company," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• The Washington Post reports on how the House Democrats who took a tough vote on climate change legislation last year are now faring in their districts after the Senate abandoned its efforts to take up similar legislation.

Economy: Obama Favored Over Bush In Poll

• "Despite a tough year for President Obama, the public believes his administration's policies offer a better chance at improving the economy over the policies of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush," according to the latest National Journal poll. In the poll, "46 percent said Obama's path would do more to improve economic conditions in the next few years, compared to 29 percent who said policies put in place by Bush would."

• "A panel of world financial officials has reached 'broad agreement' on new rules to govern the global banking system but has postponed some key elements for as long as seven years while the impact is studied, the Switzerland-based group said Monday," the Washington Post reports. "The group of central bankers and regulators who form the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision" has not reached agreement "on some of the most important and sensitive issues -- notably how much capital banks are going to be asked to hold and the degree to which they will be required to hold it in the form of common equity, considered the best buffer against a downturn."

• "Sales of new homes are near 47-year lows, yet the supply of new and existing homes is expected to grow in the months ahead as construction ramps up and a wave of foreclosed homes hits the market," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

• "State tax revenue is improving, but only slightly, and may not be enough to end steep spending cuts or replace the loss of assistance from the federal stimulus plan that expires in December, according to a report on Tuesday," Reuters reports. "The National Conference of State Legislatures said states faced a collective budget gap of $83.9 billion when creating their budgets for fiscal 2011, which for most began on July 1."

• "State and federal officials are starting to take their knives to the pay of leaders of nonprofit groups they do business with to help share the pain of tighter budgets," the New York Times reports. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, "has told Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner that he is concerned that the Internal Revenue Service is not tough enough in policing pay in the nonprofit sector and that regulations governing compensation are too weak."

Health Care: Seniors Misinformed On Law

• "The National Council On Aging is ramping up its outreach to seniors about the healthcare overhaul law, in response to polling data that showed seniors were misinformed about the effect of the law," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "The poll found that... 42 percent held the incorrect view that the law would cut their basic Medicare benefits, while 37 percent said they did not know."

• "Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) this week continued his push to eliminate a controversial tax-reporting provision of the new healthcare reform law, vowing to offer his repeal bill at every turn," The Hill reports. "Under the Democrats' new healthcare reform bill, companies, nonprofits and government offices are required to file 1099 forms with the IRS when goods purchased from another business exceed $600 in a year. Under previous law, the reporting requirement pertained only to services."

• "As lawmakers and health experts wrestle over whether a controversial chemical, bisphenol-A, should be banned from food and beverage containers, a new analysis by an environmental group suggests Americans are being exposed to BPA through another, surprising route: paper receipts," the Washington Post reports. "The Environmental Working Group found BPA on 40 percent of the receipts it collected from supermarkets, automated teller machines, gas stations and chain stores."

Technology: 'Jailbreaking' iPhones Gets Federal OK

• "The Library of Congress, which has the power to define exceptions to an important copyright law, said on Monday that it was legal to bypass a phone's controls on what software it will run to get 'lawfully obtained' programs to work," the New York Times reports. "The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, had asked for that exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow the so-called jailbreaking of iPhones and other devices."

• "The European Commission opened investigations Monday into whether I.B.M. had abused its dominant position in mainframe computers, signaling that the era of aggressive prosecution of American technology leaders in Europe did not end with the Microsoft antitrust case," the New York Times reports.

Politics: Tancredo Launches Third-Party Bid

• "Former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo made good on his high-noon ultimatum Monday by announcing that he would enter the Colorado governor's contest as a third-party candidate," the Washington Times reports. "The mere announcement of his candidacy appeared to doom any chance of victory for likely Republican nominee Scott McInnis while ensuring victory for the likely Democratic pick, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper."

• "House Democrats plan a six-week messaging campaign for the August recess in which they'll warn voters that putting Republicans back in power would mark a return to failed George W. Bush administration policies," The Hill reports. "The strategy, coordinated with the White House and the Democrats' campaign committees, is designed to put Republicans on defense by forcing them to explain where -- and how -- they would lead the country should they win control of Congress."

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