ThinkFast: November 18, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed yesterday to hold votes on two key Democratic priorities: the DREAM Act and a repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t tell policy. Senate Republicans blocked both measures this fall when Reid tried to attach them to a defense authorization act.

A bipartisan group of budget experts led by former GOP Sen. Pete Domenici (NM) and former Clinton administration budget director Alice Rivlin yesterday called for steep cuts in future military spending, intensifying pressure to reduce defense spending to help reduce the deficit. Their plan includes a five-year freeze on Pentagon spending and would reduce projected deficits by $5.9 trillion through 2020.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs “expressed confidence” yesterday that the START treaty has the 67 votes necessary to pass the Senate in the lame duck Congress. Gibbs said that Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl’s (AZ) opposition “won’t be enough to derail the treaty” and President Obama “will push forward” to see it ratified “before the end of the year.”

Ahmed Ghailani, the first former Guantamo Bay detainee to be tried in a civilian court, was acquitted of all but one charge against him related to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was “convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property,” and faces at least 20 years in prison.

“As one of its first acts,” the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives will consider ending birthright citizenship, which has been guaranteed by the 14th Amendment for over one hundred years. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the incoming chairman of the subcommittee that oversees immigration, “is expected to push a bill” early in the next session that would deny citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants.

The U.S. government’s stake in General Motors was halved yesterday as billions of dollars of bailout money was returned following a $23 billion stock offering by the company. The New York Times notes the offering was “bigger and more ambitious than had once seemed possible.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) claimed a historic victory last night in her write-in bid for the U.S. Senate in Alaska against Tea Party-backed, Sarah Palin-endorsed candidate Joe Miller (R). The state Republican Party called the race for Murkowski and asked Miller to “end his campaign in a dignified manner,” but Miller said he is not conceding until he can ensure “the counting process is a fair one.”

A Tennessee judge refused to stop an expansion of the Murfreesboro Islamic Center that has been protested for months and been the target of arson. The judge said “he could not find that the ‘county acted illegally, arbitrarily or capriciously‘ in approving the plan.”

And finally: “A caravan” of trucks is heading to Washington, D.C. today for a bi-partisan “Purple for the People” Slurpee summit. The idea came after President Obama criticized Republicans for sitting back and enjoying a Slurpee while he worked to save the economy. 7-Eleven, which sells the frozen drinks, is planning to send “very special Slurpee handblown glass cups” to Obama and presumptive House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).