Five constitutional experts told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday “that President Obama’s extensive use of policy ‘czars’ is legal — as long as the officials do not overstep their authority.” Their “practical authority…is not legal authority, and as long as the distinction is rigorously maintained there will be no legal problem,” said University of Virginia law professor John Harrison.
President Obama told Congressional leaders yesterday that “he would not substantially reduce American forces in Afghanistan or shift the mission to just hunting terrorists there.” He is also “undecided about the major troop buildup proposed by his commanding general.” White House officials said Obama wants to “dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan.”
A new Pew poll has found that 61 percent of Americans would support military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Only 24 percent said it is more important to avoid military action, even if it means that Iran develops such weapons.
Top House Democrats slammed health insurers yesterday “who claim that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition that can be used to deny coverage to battered women.” The lawmakers “pledged to incorporate a ban on the practice in the health care reform legislation winding its way through Congress.” “That will all be gone,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who called the practice discrimination.
A proposal by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) to supplant a robust national public health insurance option with health-insurance plans run by state governments is gaining momentum. “The Delaware Democrat’s plan won praise from some in his party Tuesday as a way of bridging differences among them.”
Attorney General Eric Holder admitted yesterday that it will be “difficult” to close Guantanamo Bay before President Obama’s January 2010 deadline. “As important as when Guantanamo is closed is that it is closed right,” responded ACLU National Security Project director Jameel Jaffer. “In a democracy, there is no room for a system of detention that allows human beings to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial.”
The head of Mexico’s climate delegation said today that the U.S. is a “stumbling block” in U.N. climate change talks. “I think that they are in an uncomfortable position since they cannot put on the table any figures unless the Congress process is clearer,” said Fernando Tudela, Mexico’s lead climate negotiator.
D.C. Councilman David Catania introduced a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the nation’s capital, “a measure that even opponents acknowledged seems almost unstoppable.” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee overseeing D.C. issues, said he “would like to try to stop” the legislation, but doesn’t think he has the votes to do so.
The Associated Press is considering “whether to sell news stories to some online customers exclusively for a certain period, perhaps half an hour.” AP chief executive Tom Curley complained that sites such as Google “have reaped a fortune off their articles, photos and video without fairly compensating news organizations that produce the material.”
And finally: You’re not going to be able to see former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay tango and samba on “Dancing with the Stars” anymore. The Hammer has been struggling with stress fractures in both his feet, but has insisted that the show will go on: “What’s a little pain when we can party?” However, last night during the live results show, DeLay quit. “If you can’t practice you’ll make a fool out of yourself out here, and I don’t want to do that to Cheryl,” he said, referring to his dance partner. View his announcement here.
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