The WonkLine: March 22, 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.



Health Care

“House Democrats approved a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health system on Sunday, voting over unanimous Republican opposition to provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans after an epic political battle that could define the differences between the parties for years.”

“Senate Democrats and Republicans are scheduled to sit down together with the parliamentarian today to review a list of potential items that could be subject to the Byrd Rule – a step that precedes the consideration of a reconciliation bill.”

In the Senate, “20 hours of debate will begin Tuesday, according to senior Democratic and Republican aides, concluding Wednesday night or Thursday morning.”

National Security

Secretary Clinton addressed AIPAC on Monday, arguing that “indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians should be serious and substantive and that new Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank were jeopardizing progress.”

The New York Times reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki “endorsed the mounting calls for a recount of Iraq’s parliamentary election, as the latest results on Sunday showed his main competitor with a slight lead.”

Foreign Policy’s Arif Rafiq on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship: “It remains transitional and wanting of a long-term vision.”


Student loan reform passed the House last night as part of the health care reconciliation package. The provisions cutting billions in subsidies to private lenders now move to the Senate.

According to the IRS, “the average income tax refund is up nearly 10% from a year ago, reflecting tax credits included in last year’s economic stimulus package.”

Bloomberg reports that “the fate of the Volcker rule, which would ban proprietary trading at U.S. banks, may hinge on the word ‘shall.’” Financial services lobbyists want to give regulators more discretion in implementing the ban.


Tens of thousands of people representing a broad coalition rallied in Washington, DC yesterday to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

In a videotaped message presented on giant screens to thousands marching on the National Mall, President Obama pledged to “do everything in his power to forge a bipartisan consensus on immigration reform this year.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) indicated that his shift to “yes” on the health care bill was influenced by “bipartisan efforts at immigration reform that have been blessed by the Obama administration.”

Climate Change

United Mountain Defense explores a mountain in east Tennessee that has been turned into a pit, as Rainforest Action Network activists complete a three-day vigil at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters to get administrator Lisa Jackson to visit the devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining.

The draft Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate bill is reported to promote offshore drilling by giving 10% of revenues to the coastal states, prevent the EPA from regulating natural gas hydraulic fracturing, and “block EPA from requiring New Source Review and Title V operating permits from stationary sources based on their greenhouse gas emissions.”

Local authorities from Washington, Louisiana, Iowa, and Minnesota are complaining about redrawn flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that require thousands of property owners to buy flood insurance.