President Obama is expected to nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court in a press conference this morning, “positioning the court to have three female justices for the first time.” At 50, Kagan, who has received bipartisan praise for her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School, would be the youngest member of the court. “The last time a non-judge was appointed was in 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon nominated William H. Rehnquist and Lewis Powell in the same year.” Seven Senate Republicans voted to confirm her as solicitor general.
In a speech delivered at the Eisenhower library this weekend, Defense Secretary Gates passionately argued that the Pentagon must cut its budget. “These savings must stem from root-and-branch changes that can be sustained and added to over time,” he said. “Simply taking a few percent off the top of everything on a onetime basis will not do.”
Contrary to a statement made by Gen. David Petraeus last week, the Times Square bomber was facilitated by terrorists in Pakistan. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. has now “developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind” the attempted car bombing. White House homeland security adviser John Brennan also said Shahzad was working “on behalf of the Tariqi Taliban Pakistan.”
The Obama administration announced yesterday “that indirect, American-brokered talks had resumed between Israel and the Palestinians, capping a year of efforts by Washington to revive the peace process.” George Mitchell, Obama’s special envoy to the region, “is expected to shuttle between the two sides over the next four months as mediator of the so-called proximity talks.”
The nation’s five largest banks are fighting a provision in the Wall Street reform bill that would stop banks from trading derivatives, fielding “more than 130 registered lobbyists” and spending $6.1 million on lobbying in first quarter of this year alone.
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who was seeking his fourth term, “was stripped of his party’s nomination on Saturday” at the Utah GOP’s state convention. Bennett “was outmatched in delegate votes by two relative newcomers,” businessman Tim Bridgewater and lawyer Mike Lee, who were united in wanting him out. “Our anything-but-Bennett bond is strong,” said Lee campaign field director William Lee.
The Obama administration is hoping to “smooth the waters” with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai during his visit to Washington this week. “Tension has been thick” between the two countries, but Karzai also seems interested in repairing relations, writing in the Washington Post this weekend, “What has kept us together is an overriding strategic vision.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told a Univision host that he can’t commit to reforming the nation’s immigration system this year. “We are committed to do comprehensive immigration reform, the President supports us on that, but I tell everyone we can’t do a bill unless we get some Republican,” Reid pointed out.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and National Association of Insurance Commissioners chair Jane Cline, worried that the health insurance industry will be “gaming” the newly passed health care law.
“Everybody has an interest in getting this done right and insuring that the reforms work as smooth as possible,” responded AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach.
And finally: At Hampton University’s commencement this past weekend, Obama let graduates know that he thinks the “iPad is iBad for democracy.”
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