Attempting to “quell criticism” that President Obama dodged the issue in the State of the Union, White House officials announced yesterday that Obama will openly address gun control soon. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said there’s no specific timetable or clear position yet, but Senior White House adviser David Axelrod said there is “no doubt” that “he will engage in that…debate.”
The Obama administration is ramping up its rhetoric in support of the anti-government demonstrations in the Arab Middle East. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Egyptian authorities should not “prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites.” President Obama privately pressed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to embrace democratic changes.
A weak economy, higher spending, and fresh tax cuts will contribute to a larger federal deficit in 2011, congressional budget analysts said yesterday. The deficit will reach $1.5 trillion, a new record that is $60 million more than the White House predicted last summer.
Divisions have opened up among key Republicans over plans to cut the nation’s defense budget, the New York Times notes. Some long-standing members of Congress, like Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) — who leads the House Armed Services Committee — oppose any cuts to defense budgets, but several Tea Party freshman members are already calling for deep reductions.
The White House last night “renominated Dr. Don Berwick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.” Berwick, who was originally recess appointed, will face hearings in a Senate where most Republicans are expected to oppose his nomination.
Despite “deportations of illegal immigrants [reaching] new heights for two years running” under the Obama administration, House Republicans say they will push for tougher crackdowns. One policy they plan to advocate for is a return to workplace raids to arrest undocumented employees.
A group of Senate Democrats seeking to rein in the use of the filibuster abandoned their effort yesterday after it became clear they lacked the votes needed from within their own caucus to approve the change. Instead, the Senate will likely adopt a bipartisan agreement to enact a much more modest reform of Senate rules that does not address the filibuster.
And finally: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is suing a congressional cafeteria over a rogue olive pit hidden in the congressman’s sandwich that allegedly cause him dental damage in 2008. Kucinich is seeking $150,000 in damages, claiming the cafeteria’s negligence caused him “serious and permanent dental and oral injuries requiring multiple oral and dental surgeries,” as well as a loss of “enjoyment.”
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