ThinkFast: January 6, 2010

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)

Five-term Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) will announce today that he is not running for re-election. He just recently helped shepherd the health care bill through the Senate. A source said that Dodd visited the gravesite of the late senator Ted Kennedy following the vote, and “that was kind of a turning point.” Dodd has also been fighting to institute a strong, sweeping regulatory reform bill. Popular Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will reportedly announce a run for the open Senate seat later today.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) “is expected” to announce today that he too will not seek reelection next year. Though the news “came as a surprise to top Democrats both in Washington and Colorado,” Ritter “faced a stiff re-election challenge” from former Rep. Scott McInnis (R), who has been leading in recent polls.

The Obama administration has “inserted language into the federal jobs Web site explicitly banning employment discrimination based on gender identity,” a move that will protect the transgender population. Yesterday, Amanda Simpson, “believed to be America’s first openly transgender presidential appointee,” began work at the Commerce Department.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) dismissed the censure of him by the Lexington County South Carolina Republican Party as “misplaced priorities.” “The man who authored the resolution has never voted for a Republican nominee for president in the history of his life,” Graham said, adding, “He is the head of the Ron Paul movement in this part of South Carolina.”

President Obama said yesterday that the U.S. will not send any more Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen for now, part of the administration’s increased security measures after the failed Christmas terror plot. However, Obama reaffirmed his intent to close the detention facility. 

After meeting with senior national security and intelligence officials yesterday, Obama said “that U.S. intelligence agencies could have prevented the attempt to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day.” “This was not a failure to collect intelligence,” said Obama. “It was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had. … That’s not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it.”

Congressional Democratic leaders finalized a decision yesterday “to bypass a formal House and Senate conference to meld their health care bills.” “White House, House and Senate Democratic leaders and their key committee chairmen will informally meet to find compromise between the two health care bills.” The White House has promised to take a more “prominent role” in the final talks.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) says it has not come to any agreement that would “effectively trade votes on health care for the promise that the White House and Democratic leaders will move forward with immigration reform before the end of the year.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “is expected to announce Wednesday that his agency will require oil and natural-gas companies to clear more regulatory hurdles before they are allowed to drill on federal lands.” Salazar’s action is “likely to make it more difficult” to “fast-track” oil and gas projects by forcing federal officials “seek additional approvals” and conduct more site visits.

And finally: On Monday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) went on MSNBC and offered some thoughts about who might have written the introduction to former Vice President Cheney’s upcoming book.

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