The WonkLine: March 19, 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.



Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced the building blocks for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation they are crafting in an op-ed posted yesterday.

President Obama responded to Schumer and Graham’s framework, stating “a critical next step will be to translate their framework into a legislative proposal, and for Congress to act at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Yesterday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) who threatened to vote against the health care bill because of its harsh immigration provisions announced their support of it.


FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, “in contrast to her fellow federal bank regulators,” is still pushing for the creation of an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency. However, “”it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” she said.

Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire (D) “signed a bill to combat wage theft this week, adding Washington to a growing number of states and counties, including Miami-Dade County, cracking down on employers who underpay workers.”

Mike Konczal at New Deal 2.0 lays out how to think about resolution authority.

National Security

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Friday that the proposals offered by the Israeli government to ease a diplomatic row with the United States were ‘useful and productive,’ and that the Obama administration would continue talks in Jerusalem and Washington.”

“U.S. and Russian negotiators are ‘at the finish line‘ in negotiating a major agreement to cut the number of nuclear warheads each side has deployed against the other, with just one or two issues left to resolve, officials said Thursday.”

“The former top United Nations official in Afghanistan said that recent arrests of high-ranking Taliban figures by Pakistan have severed important secret communications between the Taliban and the West, possibly delaying peace negotiations and making them more difficult.”

Health Care

“House Democrats initiated a 72-hour countdown Thursday on their yearlong effort to overhaul the health care system, unveiling a nearly final version of the legislation that promptly won additional support with a promise that the bill would more than pay for itself over the next decade.”

“The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, is the latest lobbying heavyweight to formally give its seal of approval to Democrats’ $940 billion health care reform legislation, urging House Members on Thursday to vote for the measure.”

Are there any ‘special deals‘ left in the health care bill?

Climate Change

Scientists fear “a new pattern of punishing winter storms” when “warm winter air became loaded with ocean moisture” in Mexico “may mark the start of an irreversible decline of the transcontinental migration” of monarch butterflies, whose numbers have been plummeting from a “loss of forests and food sources” already, and butterflies in Australia are “emerging in spring over 10 days earlier than they did 65 years ago, a shift that has been linked to regional human-induced climate change.”

If the Defense Department pulls the remaining funds from a canceled polar orbiting satellite program, there could be “serious consequences” for climate and weather monitoring satellites including a “data gap” at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco said yesterday.

Six environmental protesters chained themselves to 20-foot-tall purple tripods outside EPA headquarters demanding calling for the agency to “pledge to end mountaintop removal in 2010,” as a new scientific study finds that the ecological destruction from mountain-top removal mining hikes the coal footprint of the Appalachian coal industry by as much 17 percent.