ThinkFast: March 19, 2010

Rep. Betsy Markey

Yesterday, two House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November, Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO) and Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), announced that they will vote yes on the new package. Additionally, previous “yes” votes who were wavering, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI), announced that they will vote for the bill. Rep. Steven Lynch (D-MA), who supported the bill in November, says he will vote no.

“Republican lawyers” are already gearing up for a legal challenge against health care reform,” conducting research and drafting arguments for lawsuits that could be filed within days or weeks, particularly if House leaders decide to go forward with a ‘deem & pass’ rule.'”

“The White House is nearing a deal with a bipartisan group of senators to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and pave the way for more detainees to be tried before military commissions,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal is being worked out with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Richard Durbin (D-IL). “Senate Democratic aides say Mr. Graham believes two other Republicans are willing to join the compromise.”

A federal grand jury yesterday subpoenaed documents from the National Republican Senatorial Committee as part of its investigation into what actions Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) undertook to cover up his affair. “The issuance of subpoenas by the U.S. Department of Justice in addition to the Senate Ethics Committee indicates a new phase in the investigations, casting further doubt on the political future of Ensign, who a year ago was a rising GOP star.”

In an interview with Bloomberg News, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “I don’t see a set of sanctions coming along that would be so detrimental to the Iranians that they are going to stop that program.” He added, “So ultimately, the solution has to be a negotiated one.”

The Mideast Quartet — which consists of the United States, Russia, European Union, and United Nations — condemned Israel’s announcement that it would be building 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. The Quartet also called for the creation of a Palestinian state within two years.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) has agreed with House Democratic leaders to eliminate a provision in the reconciliation bill that would’ve given his home state bank, the Bank of North Dakota, an exemption from new federal student loan rules. The provision would’ve allowed the bank to continue lending to students even though the legislation was designed to eliminate lending middlemen.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “announced the building blocks” of “a new push in Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws” in a Washington Post op-ed, published online yesterday. President Obama quickly gave it his support and urged Congress “to act at the earliest possible opportunity.”

In the cover article for The Nation, The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss writes about the activities of Dick and Liz Cheney. “Their larger goal, then, is to resuscitate the neocons’ post-September 11 vision of a world in which the United States, unbound by rules or reality, imposes its will on friend and enemy alike,” Duss writes.

And finally: Jon Stewart parodies Glenn Beck again. The Comedy Central host opened his show with a 15-minute mockery of Beck, taking aim at Beck’s conspiratorial rantings about progressivism. Watch it here.

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