As Senate Democrats propose reforms to the filibuster rule and other Senate procedures, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is introducing a proposal that would require Senators to stay on the floor to sustain a filibuster. Lautenberg has named his bill the Mr. Smith Bill, after the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, where the main character collapses on the floor of the Senate, trying to maintain a filibuster.
In a “surprising move,” officials said Defense Secretary Robert Gates will send an additional 1,400 marines to Afghanistan “to try to cement tentative security gains before White House-mandated troop reductions begin in July.” Seeking to combat an anticipated spring offensive by the Taliban, commanders may increase the front-line force to as many as 3,000 troops.
Gates is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders today to outline how he intends to cut $100 billion from the Pentagon budget over the next five years. A $14 billion Marine Corps landing craft and the F-35 joint strike fighter are expected to be on Gates’ chopping block.
The health insurer Blue Shield of California is proposing to hike premiums as much as 59 percent for tens of thousands of customers in just a few weeks. “Nearly 1 in 4 of the affected customers will see cumulative increases of more than 50% over five months.”
Health care spending rose to a record 17.6 percent of the U.S. economy in 2009 “as the overall economy shrank and higher federal Medicaid spending helped to push up health costs.” Spending rose 4 percent from last year, which was the smallest percentage increase in 50 years. The figures don’t reflect the impact of the new health care law.
The president’s oil spill panel has concluded that the Gulf oil spill was “an avoidable accident caused by a series of failures and blunders by the companies involved in drilling the well and the government regulators assigned to police them.” Spokespersons “for BP and Halliburton said they had not seen the report and had no comment.”
Yesterday, lawmakers in more than five states announced they are launching an effort against birthright citizenship by seeking to apply the 14th Amendment “only to children with at least one parent who is a permanent resident or citizen.” Explaining the impetus behind the move, one SC lawmaker called U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants “poison” and a “malady” that needs to be cured.
And finally: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) comically tried to walk back his assertion that the Obama administration is “one of the most corrupt administrations in history” by blaming the media for failing to understand what he was saying. Speaking to CNN’s John King, Issa claimed that he simply meant that Obama is corrupt just like a corrupted disc drive. “It’s no different than a disc drive that’s given you some bits that are wrong,” Issa explained.
ThinkProgress is hiring! Details here.