On Thursday, President Obama will deliver an address at American University to “make the case for providing a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million people who live in the U.S. illegally.” Obama met with lawmakers this week to discuss a strategy for passing immigration reform, “possibly during a lame-duck session of Congress after the November election.”
“The recession has directly hit more than half of the nation’s working adults, pushing them into unemployment, pay cuts, reduced hours at work or part-time jobs, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.” Nearly of half of the survey’s respondents said “they are in worse financial shape as a result of the downturn, which destroyed 20 percent of Americans’ wealth.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday that there was no chance for a Palestinian state in the next two years. “I’m an optimistic person, but there is absolutely no chance of reaching a Palestinian state by 2012,” he said, adding, “One can dream…but we are far from reaching understandings and an agreement.” The U.S., the EU, the U.N. and Russia have called for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by 2012.
House Democrats have attached $10 billion to the long-stalled war funding bill “to help local school districts avoid teacher layoffs when schools reopen.” The $70 billion bill “is anchored by President Barack Obama’s $30 billion request for the troop surge in Afghanistan and contains money for disaster aid accounts, foreign aid and disability benefits for Vietnam veterans.”
At a confirmation hearing yesterday, “Gen. David Petraeus left open the possibility of recommending that President Barack Obama delay his plans to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next summer.” “There will be an assessment at the end of this year after which undoubtedly we’ll make certain tweaks, refinements, perhaps some significant changes,” said Petraeus, who was confirmed by the committee.
Although nearly every GOP lawmaker has vowed to repeal health care reform, only 30 House Republicans have “actually signed the discharge petition calling for such a repeal.” The petition, if signed by 218 members, would force a vote on repeal. But so far, the measure introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and pushed by the Heritage Foundation’s new political group has fallen very short.
Congressional negotiators eliminated a $20 billion bank tax from the Wall Street reform bill yesterday when they briefly reopened the conference committee to appease Senate Republicans who threatened to withdraw their support for the bill if changes weren’t made. The new plan will also “bring an early end to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.”
Foreclosed homes accounted for nearly a third of all home sales in the first three months of 2010, according to new data from foreclosed property marketer RealtyTrac, Inc. During 2009 alone, 1.2 million property sales dealt with foreclosures. “That number boggled my mind,” said RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga, referring to the jump in foreclosures. “A 2,500% increase over a four-year period surprised even us.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to the House Agricultural Committee warning that it may scores votes on a bill the committee is marking up that could liberalize American travel and farm sales to Cuba. “It sends a signal how seriously we are taking the bill,” said Patrick Kilbride, who directs the Chamber’s Americas office. “This just has been considered by the Chamber as fundamental to its advocacy message of free enterprise.”
And finally: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) draws a sketch of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) during a committee hearing.
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