The WonkLine: March 1, 2010

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 a.m. roundup of the latest news about health care, the economy, national security, immigration and climate policy. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


Climate Change

Hurricane-force winds and widespread flooding battered vast swathes of western France and left more than a million homes without power,” as the storm named Xynthia “killed at least 62 people across western Europe” in Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, and Germany en route to Scandinavia.

Shareholders at BP and Shell will vote on “whether to force the oil giants to come clean on their Canadian tar sands involvement.”

Mother Jones reports that utility giant Progress Energy is the latest in a stream of companies to abandon the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the scandal-ridden coal-industry front group that has dirtied the debate on climate legislation.

National Security

“Amid a rising death toll and more reports of looting, three aftershocks struck Chile on Monday morning as rescue efforts continued in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated the country on Saturday.”

“More than 2,000 U.S. Marines and about 1,000 Afghan troops who stormed the town of Marja as part of a major NATO offensive against a resurgent Taliban will stay several months to ensure that insurgents do not return.”

“As President Obama begins making final decisions on a broad new nuclear strategy for the United States, senior aides say he will permanently reduce America’s arsenal by thousands of weapons. But the administration has rejected proposals that the United States declare it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons.”


Because of Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-KY) obstruction, two thousand federal employees will be furloughed today, as federal reimbursements to states for highway programs will be halted.

President Obama today “will offer $900 million in grants to states and school districts to turn around low-performing schools — but recipients would have to take drastic action, such as replacing principals, reopening schools as charter schools or closing them outright.”

The Independent reports that “America’s top bankers quashed attempts by their British counterparts to persuade the industry to bring down salaries,” saying that “any such move smacked of socialism.”


Eight months after Utah required governmental entities to use E-Verify, a controversial electronic employment verification program, the law is being widely ignored by many counties, municipalities, school districts and other governmental bodies.

The Southern Poverty Law Center won a lawsuit against Superior Forestry Service Inc. over the labor contractor’s alleged mistreatment of legal immigrant workers.

A troublesome bill being discussed in the Arizona State Legislature would require the Department of Education to compile information about students enrolled in public schools who could not provide evidence of being legally in the United States.

Health Care

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Sunday that “the House could unveil specific legislative language for the measure in a matter of days.” She said says she is confident she will be able to get the votes needed to pass reform in the House.

“Raising the prospect of a ‘simple up-or-down vote’ on health-care reform, White House adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle said on Sunday she thinks Democrats will secure enough ayes on the measure and signaled that the administration could be moving toward trying to pass it along party lines.”

“Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) on Sunday defended the use of filibuster-busting budget reconciliation rules to pass a narrow bill amending the health care reform legislation passed earlier by the Senate.”