The WonkLine: June 28, 2010

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 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.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Congress’ longest-serving member in history “best known for his ardent defense of both the U.S. Constitution his love of Senate history,” passed away this morning at age 92. He was a two-term majority leader, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, “author of an award-winning four-volume history of the Senate,” and president pro tem. Read reactions to his death from fellow senators here.

Health Care

“Californians who have been denied health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions could soon find relief if state lawmakers enact a key component of federal health care reform.”

“Two first-of-their-kind abortion laws in Nebraska have drawn threats of legal challenges, but experts say attempts by abortion-rights groups to block one of the measures from going on the books could backfire.”

“More than 1.2 million Americans will exhaust their unemployment benefits by the end of June if Congress fails to work out a deal on an extension of unemployment benefits.”


All five constitutional challenges to Arizona’s controversial new immigration law will be heard by one federal judge in Phoenix: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton.

On Meet the Press yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted that he does not agree with Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) that the majority of undocumented immigrants are “drug mules.”

The Arizona Republic reports that “the demand to immigrate to the United States far outweighs the number of people that immigration laws allow to move here legally.”


Leaders of the G-20 nations “agreed Sunday on a timetable for cutting deficits and halting the growth of their debt, but also acknowledged the need to move carefully so that reductions in spending did not set back the fragile global recovery.”

“The Obama administration said it has made new progress on a free trade agreement with South Korea that could overcome resistance in Congress, and agreed with Seoul to complete the pact by November,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Will the expiration of the Bush tax cuts test the Republicans’ supposed deficit reduction resolve?

National Security

“Iran’s president says Tehran will not hold talks with the West over its disputed nuclear program until late August to ‘punish’ world powers for imposing tougher economic sanctions.”

“North Korea on Monday announced it would have to increase its nuclear weapons capability, blaming unspecified threats by the United States’ military.”

Harretz reports that the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is set to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property.

Climate Change

BP and Shell, “the biggest oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico, are evacuating crews from some offshore platforms in the region as a safety precaution because of Tropical Storm Alex.”

President Barack Obama “will meet with a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday on energy and climate change legislation,” as “Senate Democrats will begin crafting a sweeping energy bill this week that could include a first-ever, though more modest, cap on global-warming pollution,” but GOP opposition means that “for Democrats seeking Republican help, that pretty much leaves Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.”

Heat waves hit Reno, London, Moscow, and east Asia, as killer tornadoes and flooding sweep through Indianapolis, Chicago, and Iowa