The WonkLine: February 10, 2011

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 a.m. roundup of the latest public policy news. 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.


LGBT Equality

“Plans to end the enforcement of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ are moving along with the goal of ending the ban on gays in the military this year, but the debate sparked by last year’s repeal of the policy won’t end once President Obama and Pentagon leaders officially end it.”

“Maryland state senator James Brochin may change his marriage equality vote from no to yes following testimony against the bill this week that he found troubling.”

“New York governor Andrew Cuomo gave his strongest indication yet on timing for the marriage equality bill, saying Wednesday that he wanted the legislature to bring the issue up this session, which ends in June.”


Farmers and other critics of expanding E-Verify warn that it could destabilize the agricultural economy and jeopardize millions of jobs held by American citizens that are upstream and downstream of farm labor.

An Arizona lawmaker plans to reintroduce two Arizona bills disqualifying the children of undocumented immigrants from being legal citizens of the state and the United States to a committee next week for a vote.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) wrote in support of the 287(g) program and the deputization of immigration law, saying, “waiting until illegal immigrants commit criminal offenses before deporting them places American citizens and legal immigrants in danger.”


The fight over how to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is well underway, and interest groups don’t like what they’re hearing.

According to the latest data, 27 percent of homeowners are now underwater (owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth), up from 23 percent last quarter.

Labor unions help to boost protests in Egypt.


Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) opposes an attempt by the New Hampshire state legislature to repeal the state’s requirement that all public schools provide kindergarten.

The West Virginia House of Delegates has approved a bill “requiring annual classroom teacher evaluations,” sending it to the state senate.

Are bad schools immortal?

Climate Change

“The frequency of catastrophic events in the Australasian region has more than tripled over the past 30 years” and “global food prices tracked by a U.N. agency hit their highest level on record in January.”

Prince Charles lashed out Wednesday at climate change skeptics, saying they are playing “a reckless game of roulette” with the planet’s future, while the Economist bets the “modern economy” can withstand catastrophic climate change.

The Koch brothers are positioned to be big winners if the Keystone XL Pipeline is approved.

National Security

“Egypt’s opposition movement extended its protest to new territory outside parliament and called on labor unions to join it, in an effort to increase pressure on a regime that is digging in behind President Hosni Mubarak.”

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes today, “whatever message we’re trying to send, the one that is coming through is that we continue to embrace the existing order, and that could taint our future relations with Egypt for many years to come.”

“Iran’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday called an opposition request to hold a rally in support of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt ‘divisive’ and ‘political'”.

Health Care

“House Republicans clashed Wednesday over a longtime GOP priority: limiting medical malpractice damages. At a Judiciary Committee markup, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) accused Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) of proposing legislation that would violate the Constitution.”

“Legal skirmishes over the health-care overhaul intensified Wednesday, as Republican officials urged the Supreme Court to intervene quickly and House Democrats called on Justice Clarence Thomas to sit the case out because of his wife’s work for groups opposed to the law.”

“The Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee announced a partial list of spending cuts that would eliminate billions in healthcare funding in the remaining seven months of the fiscal year.”


The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill naming a new federal courthouse in Arizona after slain Chief Judge John Roll.

New Hampshire GOPers are trying to force the state’s attorney general to join the meritless lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act. The AG says this bill violates the state constitution.

Not content with radical tenther lawmakers who think that federal child labor laws, FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, and even Medicare and Social Security all violate the Constitution, the far right is not pushing to make all state laws protecting workers unconstitutional.