Congress: Dates Set For Ethics Trials
• "Reps. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., will finally be given their public ethics trials during the lame-duck session in November, the Ethics Committee's chairwoman announced," CongressDaily (subscription) reports. "Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., announced that Rangel's adjudicatory hearing will begin on Nov. 15, and Waters' hearing will start on Nov. 29."
• "The Congressional Budget Office Thursday put the budget deficit for FY10 at about $1.3 trillion, or 8.9 percent of the gross domestic product -- the second highest shortfall as a share of the economy since 1945," CongressDaily (subscription) reports. "The $1.3 trillion figure was $125 billion less than the $1.4 trillion shortfall recorded in FY09 when the deficit hit 10 percent of GDP, according to CBO."
• "House Democrats are increasingly confident that they are going to beat back the Republican onslaught and keep control of the chamber -- even as they suffer massive losses across the country," National Journal reports. "This is what passes for optimism in Democratic circles. And the hopeful outcome is a possibility because just enough Democrats warned the rank and file more than 18 months ago that these midterms promised to be a disaster for the party."
• "Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright on Thursday became the first Democratic incumbent to say publicly that he would not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker in the next Congress," Roll Call (subscription) reports.
White House: Obama To Pocket-Veto Foreclosure Bill
• "President Obama is planning to issue his second pocket veto on the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2009, a bill that would require courts to recognize out-of-state notarizations," CongressDaily reports. "However, the announcement immediately raised questions about whether the use of the pocket veto is legal in this set of circumstances."
• "Obama administration officials knew they did not have all the facts last summer when they rushed to dismiss Shirley Sherrod from the Agriculture Department after learning of a video that painted her as a racist, newly released e-mails show," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The day after Sherrod's ouster, even as USDA officials acknowledged in internal memos that they had not seen the full video, a White House senior aide e-mailed them to commend the department for moving quickly so the story would not gain 'traction.'"
• "The gang was all there to greet President Obama when he arrived home in Chicago Thursday evening to raise cash for Illinois's struggling Democratic establishment," National Journal reports. "Yet, the president's sheer presence in Illinois less than four weeks before the mid-term election also verifies a disconcerting development for Democrats: Obama's once solidly blue backyard is in danger of turning purple."
• "Obama used twin campaign appearances on Thursday to lash out at the private money that has filtered into Republican coffers for the November election campaign, suggesting that some of it came from abroad, and urging the Democratic Party faithful to symbolically drown out the cash with their 'millions of voices,'" the New York Times reports.
• "The federal government last year sent about 89,000 checks of $250 each to dead or incarcerated people through the Obama administration's economic stimulus program, according to a watchdog report," the Washington Post reports.
Politics: Plouffe Sees 'Path' To Holding House
• "The Democrats' top strategist, David Plouffe, cannot predict that his party will retain control of the House and Senate or win a majority of the marquee governors races," National Journal reports. "All Plouffe can say with confidence is he sees a 'path' to Democrats retaining control of the House and Senate and finishing better than expected in top-tier races for governor. Plouffe declared anything less than a GOP sweep of Congress and victories in most of the big gubernatorial races a failure."
• "The Republican National Committee (RNC) pulled in $9.7 million in donations in September, about $4 million short of its goal," The Hill reports.
• In this week's National Journal Insiders Poll, GOP Insiders were "withering" in assessing the RNC, with 73 percent saying the Democratic National Committee was outperforming it, Hotline On Call reports.
• "House Minority Leader John Boehner is planning to give a major speech on jobs and government spending" today "at a Cincinnati company that the Ohio Republican's office described as a 'small family business,'" Roll Call (subscription) reports. "But the announcement did not mention that the executives of the company are also major political donors."
• "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie [R] pulled the plug on a decades-in-the-making train tunnel connecting his state and Manhattan, saying Thursday that the state can't afford to pay for cost overruns on the already under-construction project," the Washington Post reports. "More than a half-billion dollars has been spent on the tunnel, and construction began last year. The country's largest federal transportation project, it was expected to double peak train traffic in and out of New York once completed in 2018."
Economy: Democrats Wait For The Ax
• "The last major piece of economic news before November's election is unlikely to bring relief to the millions of American workers searching for jobs -- or to the Democratic lawmakers who soon may join them," National Journal reports. "Forecasters expect the Labor Department's 8:30 a.m. release of September unemployment statistics to prolong the economic story of the last several months: a jobless rate near 10 percent, with little or no private-sector job growth."
• "Federal regulators are expected to outline as early as" today "rules for seizing and dismantling a large financial firm that could allow some creditors to get a better deal than others in limited cases," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as part of a proposed rule, is expected to say that all creditors of large, nonbank financial firms should expect losses in a failure, according to people familiar with the government's plans."
• "No matter which party or theory of stunted growth you believe: None of the proposed remedies would fully cure the maladies they target -- and whoever controls Congress in January appears set to leave major economic ailments untreated," National Journal (subscription) reports.
Health Care: Judge Rules Reform Law Constitutional
• "A federal judge in Michigan" on Thursday "denied the conservative Thomas More Law Center's motion to freeze implementation of the health care overhaul law on the grounds that the insurance mandate in the law is unconstitutional," CongressDaily (subscription) reports. "U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, found that the mandate is not unconstitutional and cited Supreme Court rulings rejecting claims that individuals who choose not to engage in a market are beyond the reach of the 'commerce clause,' a congressional power cited by Democrats to justify the mandate."
• "Gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid (D) said Thursday that the new health reform law could hurt Nevada," The Hill reports. "During a televised debate, Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said he does not support the legal challenges against the health overhaul. Yet, he does believe that President Obama's signature achievement could negatively affect Nevada."
• "The United Federation of Teachers... is the biggest beneficiary of a White House sweetheart deal that will exempt certain outfits from complying with new health-care rules, officials revealed" Thursday, the New York Post reports. "The quietly approved federal waivers for 30 companies, health insurers, unions and other groups across the country means the UFT doesn't have to gradually phase out caps on annual health coverage like everyone else. The UFT was concerned that could have been a major financial hit on the union."
Energy & Environment: Major Shift In Ethanol Policy Set
• "The White House is expected to sign off on a major shift in ethanol policy that would eliminate the existing tax credit for blending the corn-based fuel with gasoline as well as tariffs that help protect the industry from Brazilian competition," CongressDaily reports. "In exchange, longer-term financial support would be granted to build out the infrastructure ethanol firms say is necessary to compete on a larger scale, while reduced tax credits would still be available directly to ethanol producers."
• Republican oil magnate T. Boone Pickens' "plan to boost natural-gas-powered trucks and transit fleets finds itself at the top of the pile of energy and climate measures introduced in this Congress," National Journal (subscription) reports. "The fact that" Reid "handpicked the Texas oilman's plan to be the only energy bill that will make it to the chamber's floor this session is telling, and the choice has some energy experts raising their eyebrows."
• "The nation's supply of tritium -- an essential isotope for nuclear weapons -- is in danger of falling below the required levels, according to a Government Accountability Office report," CongressDaily (subscription) reports. "While the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Agency now meets the nuclear weapons stockpile requirements, tritium decays at a rate of 5.5 percent a year and the agency "has been unable to overcome technical challenges" in producing more tritium, GAO said."
Technology: Google Ads Exempt From Election Disclaimer Laws
• Google had asked the Federal Election Commission "whether lengthy legal disclaimers are necessary for extremely short campaign ads that contain a maximum of 95 characters," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Commissioners verbally agreed that the disclaimer requirements did not apply to Google's small items, but they could not agree on the exact wording that explained why."
• "A YouTube video showing a dancing Israeli soldier shimmying near a bound and blindfolded Palestinian woman went viral on the Internet this week, embarrassing the Israeli military and fueling fresh debate about morals and accountability in the armed forces," the Washington Post reports.
• "The chief of the Pakistani Army said" today "that he had ordered an inquiry into an Internet video that shows men in Pakistani military uniforms executing six young men in civilian clothes," the New York Times reports. "The army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said in a statement that a military board would conduct the investigation to determine the authenticity of the five-and-a-half-minute video, which raised concerns about unlawful killings by Pakistani soldiers supported by the United States."
• "The United Arab Emirates will not suspend BlackBerry services on October 11 after resolving a dispute with its Canadian maker Research in Motion over access to email and other data, state news WAM agency said" today, Reuters reports.
National Security: U.S. Contracting Money Went To Taliban, Report Finds
• "A year-long Senate Armed Services Committee investigation has revealed that a number of private security firms working in Afghanistan under Defense Department contracts have hired Afghan warlords and powerbrokers with links to murder, kidnapping and bribery -- and the Taliban," CongressDaily reports. "The investigation, detailed in an 89-page report released today, also revealed widespread failures in contractor performance, including untrained guards, insufficient and unserviceable weapons and unmanned posts, as well as gaps in government oversight that allowed the failures to persist."
• "A top North Korean official confirmed" today "to broadcaster APTN that Kim Jong Il's youngest son will succeed him as the next leader of the reclusive communist nation," AP reports. "In the first public confirmation of the succession plan, Yang Hyong Sop, a top official in North Korea's ruling party, referred to Kim Jong Un as 'the young general' during an exclusive interview with APTN."
• "Liu Xiaobo, an impassioned literary critic, political essayist and democracy advocate repeatedly jailed by the Chinese government for his writings, won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize" today "in recognition of 'his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China,'" the New York Times reports. "Mr. Liu, 54, perhaps China's best known dissident, is currently serving an 11-year term on subversion charges.The Chinese Foreign Ministry reacted angrily to the news, calling it a 'blasphemy' to the Peace Prize and saying it would harm Norwegian-Chinese relations."