ThinkFast: December 23, 2009

Senate GOP

Senate Republicans have agreed to end their filibuster of health care reform “early Christmas Eve morning, allowing for a vote on the package at 8 a.m.” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) told the Oklahoman that “the vast majority” of Senate Republicans supported ending the filibuster in order to go home for the holiday. “We’ve had all the fun we’re going to have” debating the bill, said Inhofe.

Texas’ Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott said yesterday that he and his Republican counterparts from six other states “plan to challenge the constitutionality of a health care compromise that exempts Nebraska from paying billions in Medicaid expansion costs.” The deal — which Abbot called “the Nebraska Compromise” — secured Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) vote for health care reform.

Obama administration officials “now believe they are unlikely to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay…until 2011 at the earliest.” The delay comes as federal lawmakers have repeatedly obstructed efforts to close the prison, including by refusing to provide the funding for such a move.

Federal programs “designed to jump start the housing market helped boost sales of previously owned homes to their highest level since February 2007 and whittle down the excess supply of homes on the market in November.” The National Association of Realtors said sales rose 7.4 percent in November from the previous month and up 44 percent from a year ago.

Leaders in the Latino community are “mobilizing a nationwide drive to urge Hispanics to participate in the [2010 census].” The push comes at a time when many fear that Hispanics may be undercounted in the upcoming survey. The drives will largely be focus in evangelical churches in the Latino community.

“A Congressional Research Service report commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee says ACORN hasn’t violated any federal regulations the last five years,” Politico reports. The report also found “that the undercover filmmakers that allegedly caught employees” of the organization “breaking the law may have violated state law in their filming operation.”

Though a majority of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 59 percent said “they favor the president’s plan to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.” Fifty-five percent of respondents opposed the war while 43 percent said they support the effort.

The lobbying industry “is on track to shatter last year’s record $3.3 billion spent to lobby Congress and the rest of the federal government — and that’s with a down economy and about 1,500 fewer registered lobbyists in town,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The U.S. and Russia have failed to reach a deal on a new nuclear arms control treaty this year but “the two sides hope to reach a deal in early 2010.” “Our goal remains to conclude a solid treaty for the presidents’ signature as soon as possible,” the U.S. diplomatic mission in Geneva said.

And finally: If former Alaska governor Sarah Palin runs for president, singer-songwriter Tori Amos promises to run on the Republican ticket against her. “What I know about Middle Eastern policy could fit on a thumbnail, but I still know more than she does,” said Amos. “You have to ask, how could a nation nearly vote in somebody who isn’t qualified for the job?”

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