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The Edge: Return of the Maverick

The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.

Return of the Maverick


During his three decades in public life, John McCain has moved easily between poles: moderate deal maker/conservative hardliner, maverick/establishment candidate and, of course, fun McCain/angry McCain.

A few weeks ago, the guy who once said the country just needs to "complete the danged fence" help shepherd through a comprehensive immigration bill.

This week he worked with Harry Reid, who once said he couldn't stand McCain, to avert a tradition-ending Senate rule change.


And McCain appeared to be having a good time doing it, joking yesterday about his latest negotiating partner, Democrat Chuck Schumer: "You know I can't stand the guy, and so here I have to talk to him all the time."

The fun, moderate, maverick is back. And the Senate just got a lot more unpredictable.

Chris Frates


CORDRAY CONFIRMATION ADVANCES OVERSIGHT OF LENDING PRACTICES. Vice President Biden swore in Richard Cordray this morning as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Senate's 66-34 vote Tuesday confirming Cordray is a final step "cementing a new era of expansive federal oversight of companies that lend money to consumers," The New York Times reports. Though the bureau opened in July 2011, its legal authority had remained in question due to Republicans' resistance to confirmation of a director. Still, despite Cordray's confirmation and a compromise allowing votes on two new nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, labor unions are viewing the Senate filibuster deal as a mixed bag overall. Read more

  • The Senate averted the "nuclear option," but The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib wonders how long this sudden civility in the chamber will last with a debt-ceiling debate looming this fall. Read more

BERNANKE: CONGRESS BIGGEST PROBLEM HURTING RECOVERY. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told members of Congress today that they are the biggest hindrance to faster economic growth, The New York Times reports. "The economic recovery has continued at a moderate pace in recent quarters despite the strong headwinds created by federal fiscal policy," Bernanke said in his opening remarks. In his testimony, Bernanke also warned that looming fights over fiscal policy could yet again hurt the ongoing recovery, and reaffirmed that the Fed expects to scale back its bond purchasing later this year while cautioning that those plans could change with economic conditions. He also said that investors now better understand the Fed's messages about its bond purchases. Read more

  • Wall Street advanced modestly following Bernanke's statements again outlining the central bank's plan to lessen bond purchases later this year, Reuters reports. Read more

OBAMA: IMMIGRATION DEAL SHOULD BE A COMPLETE PACKAGE. While House Republicans favor a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, President Obama on Tuesday advocated a comprehensive effort, The Wall Street Journal reports. "The danger of doing it in pieces is that a lot of groups want different things," Obama said in an interview with Telemundo. "If you've eaten your dessert before you've eaten your meal, at least with my children, sometimes they don't end up eating their vegetables." Democrats are hoping Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., can save immigration reform in the House, while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said today he welcomes "education" from senators and others as his chamber considers immigration legislation. Read more

  • A new report by Regional Economic Models finds that big states with large numbers of undocumented workers would gain the most economically from immigration overhaul, The Wall Street Journal reports. Read more

SNOWDEN COULD LEAVE MOSCOW AIRPORT WITHIN 'NEXT FEW DAYS.' Edward Snowden may soon be able to leave the transit zone of the Moscow airport where he has been holed up for more than three weeks, The Wall Street Journal reports. The former National Security Agency contractor's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said a decision on Snowden's request for temporary asylum in Russia "will not take more than one week." Kucherena added that he expects Snowden to be able to leave the airport transit zone within "the next few days." Meanwhile, former Sen. Gordon Humphrey, R-N.H., e-mailed Politico today to call on Sweden to offer Snowden asylum because "America has done wrong in this instance." The Guardian published e-mail correspondence between Humphrey and Snowden. Read more

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  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that he doesn't think broader relations with the U.S. will be harmed if his country grants asylum to the fugitive Snowden, The New York Times reports. Read more

BARRASSO TO LIZ CHENEY: "WRONG RACE AT THE WRONG TIME." Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., responded today to Elizabeth Cheney's decision to challenge his Republican colleague Sen. Michael Enzi's seat. "I have a great respect for the Cheney family, for the vice president, for Lynn and for Liz," Barrasso said. "I just think that this is the wrong race at the wrong time." Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced Tuesday that she would run against Enzi in Wyoming's Republican primary in 2014. "She said that if I ran, she wasn't going to run, but obviously that wasn't correct," Enzi said after Cheney's announcement. "I thought we were friends." Read more

  • Following in the footsteps of the Bushes and Clintons, the Cheneys hope to become the new political dynasty in Washington, National Journal's Matt Berman writes. Read more

OBAMA ATTEMPTS TO NAVIGATE FALLOUT FROM ZIMMERMAN TRIAL. Obama took the rare step of issuing a written response to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, an action prompted by the public outcry over the case and Obama's complex role as the nation's first African-American president, The New York Times reports. In his statement, the president cited gun violence rather than racial mistrust as a topic for reflection. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also commented on the "deep, painful heartache" caused by the case. In another unusual move, the Justice Department, which is currently weighing possible federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman, is soliciting public comments via e-mail. "Experienced federal prosecutors" will make the final determination on how to proceed, but it is unclear how the feedback will impact the decision. Read more

GRAHAM'S CALL TO BOYCOTT 2014 OLYMPICS MET BY CRITICISM. House Speaker Boehner said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is "dead wrong" in suggesting that the U.S. consider a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the possibility that Snowden could be granted asylum in Russia, The Hill reports. Graham is angry over what he sees as actions from the Russian government that are "empowering some of the most evil, hateful people in the world," and the senator went on to suggest that not boycotting the Sochi Olympics would be like going back in time and letting Nazi Germany host the games. Read more

  • Graham was vilified by a top Russian lawmaker, who suggested that Graham's calls to boycott the games were a thing of the Cold War past, The Hill reports. Read more

ANTHONY WEINER'S FUNDRAISING BENEFITS FROM WIFE'S CLINTON TIES. In his campaign for New York City mayor, former Rep. Anthony Weiner has raised more than $800,000 in the past two months, far more than his rivals, The Wall Street Journal reports. The fundraising success is being attributed to Weiner's wife Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, who raised $150,000 for the campaign according to a fundraising report released on Monday. Much of that money came from donors with ties to the Clintons after Abedin began soliciting money for the campaign in July. The Clintons have said that they plan to avoid commenting on the mayoral race. Read more


CELEBRATING PROGRESS: HOW WOMEN ARE CHANGING THE WORLD. National Journal will hold the second annual "Women 2020" conference at 8 a.m. at 1000 H Street NW. Participants include Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., former Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., and former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. Moderators include Linda Douglass, senior vice president of global communications at Atlantic Media; Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent at NBC; and Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent at The Washington Post.

HOUSE PANEL TO CONSIDER PATH FORWARD ON VRA. The House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice will hold a hearing on "The Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court's Decision in Shelby County" at 11 a.m. in 2141 Rayburn.

COMMITTEE WILL CONTINUE REVIEW OF IRS TARGETING. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on "The IRS's Systematic Delay and Scrutiny of Tea Party Applications" at 11 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn. Witnesses include J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration; Elizabeth Hofacre, revenue agent for exempt organizations in the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division; and Carter Hull, former tax law specialist for exempt organizations in the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division.


"Come castration time, that was a normal part of our chores." -- Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in 2014, on growing up on a hog farm (Des Moines Register)


SYRIAN REBELS TAKE TRIAL-BY-FIRE APPROACH TO EXPLOSIVES. Abu Yassin used to be a network engineer working in a Microsoft store, but then the Syrian war began, Kabul-based journalist Matthieu Aikins reports for Wired. Yassin left his wife and children in Damascus in late 2011, and went to fight with other family members in Aleppo. Like many rebel fighters, Yassin was once a part of the country's middle class. Abu Ali, his brother, owned a shopping mall. After realizing rebel fighters lacked weaponry, the brothers founded Military Engineering Katiba, making explosives and setting up shop in an empty school. And they aren't alone. Aikins writes that Syrian rebels, to a greater extent than their counterparts in other countries, "have taken a DIY approach to arming themselves." Read more


THE PLASTICS' GUIDE TO LEGISLATING. All eyes were on the Senate as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., threatened to invoke the "nuclear option" to ease confirmation of executive branch appointees. In this vein, BuzzFeed has compiled a helpful guide to the conflict, using GIFs from the 2004 film Mean Girls. See it here


THE YEAR THAT WAS. As Major League Baseball's All-Star break comes to a close, The Atlantic Cities' Mark Byrnes takes a look back at the 1890 season, which featured the short-lived Players' League. The upstart league of eight teams—which featured a revenue-sharing agreement and employed no reserve clauses binding players to teams—lured away talent from the Senior Circuit. Byrnes offers a brief sketch of each team: the Boston Reds, Brooklyn Ward's Wonders, New York Giants, Chicago Pirates, Philadelphia Athletics, Pittsburgh Burghers, Cleveland Infants, and the Buffalo Bisons. Read more


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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Chock full of usable information on today's issues."

Michael, Executive Director

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

Stacy, Director of Communications

Great way to keep up with Washington"

Ray, Professor of Economics

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