The Commerce Department reported yesterday that the “American economy is contracting at its steepest pace in 50 years…but an unanticipated rise in consumer spending since January suggested to many economists that the worst of the recession might have passed.” Output fell at an 6.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year after falling at a 6.3 percent rate in last year’s fourth quarter.
In an effort to rebrand the party, a group of Republican heavyweights “are launching a new group that will hold town halls around the country and look to produce GOP ideas on issues like education and health care.” The group, known as the National Council for a New America, will hold its first town hall session on Saturday in Northern Virginia, which will be attended by Jeb Bush and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Former Bush budget director Jim Nussle expressed a lack of confidence in Michael Steele’s leadership of the RNC. “I don’t think we’ve found that yet in Michael or anybody else yet for the party,” Nussle said. “So we’re going to have to struggle through that for a while.”
In an angry e-mail to the RNC treasurer Randy Pullen, RNC Chairman Michael Steele declared Pullen’s attempt to wrestle control over RNC spending to be “nothing short of a completely unprecedented usurpation of the authority of the RNC chairman.” He added, “No RNC chairman has ever had to deal with this, and I certainly have no intention of putting up with it either.”
Dawn Johnsen “is undoubtedly qualified for the position” of Office of Legal Counsel head, the Washington Post editorializes today, “and she should be confirmed.” “Johnsen’s pledge to make public as many OLC opinions as possible…is a welcome change from the previous administration and another reason to confirm” her, the Post concludes.
The New Hampshire state Senate yesterday approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, which now needs to be reconciled with the version that passed the state House. Gov. John Lynch (D) has “left it unclear whether he’s considering a veto.” In Maine, a key state legislature committee also approved a same-sex marriage bill, “setting the stage for the House and Senate to vote on it as soon as next week.”
“The Department of Homeland Security intends to step up enforcement efforts against employers who knowingly hire” undocumented workers. The department is issuing guidelines to to Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices today, instructing agents to take aim at employers and supervisors for prosecution “through the use of carefully planned criminal investigations.”
British troops are ending their mission in Iraq, “beginning to withdraw from the southern city of Basra after a bloody and costly mission that was deeply unpopular at home.” “Today marks the closing chapter of the combat mission in Iraq,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, marking the occasion after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in London.
Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that “he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ at the willingness of some European allies to resettle prisoners from Guantanamo Bay” and that the U.S. “was close to making formal requests for European countries to accept specific prisoners.”
And finally: Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) was very excited about congressional business on Tuesday night: a resolution to give the Congressional Gold Medal to golf legend Arnold Palmer. “Walking…18 holes with him will forever be one of my greatest moments in life, besides, of course, marrying my wife and having my four children,” he said. He even added that the “Arnold Palmer” drink was “a good drink to get when you’re out on the golf course.” The resolution passed 422-1. Rep Ron Paul (R-TX) was the sole “no” vote, while Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) voted “present.”
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