The WonkLine: March 4, 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.


National Security

“Libyan rebels vowing ‘victory or death‘ advanced toward a major oil terminal on Friday, calling for foreign air strikes to set up a “no-fly” zone after three days of attacks by Muammar Gaddafi’s warplanes.”

“China will beef up its military budget by 12.7 percent this year, the government said on Friday, a return to double-digit spending increases” that could stir unease with neighbors like Japan and the Philippines.

“Nearly 40 years after Harvard expelled the Reserve Officers Training Corps program from its campus, university officials announced Thursday that they would officially recognize the Naval R.O.T.C.”


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent and 192,000 jobs were created in February.

The Obama administration, “newly joined by state attorneys general, were on the brink Thursday of finalizing major elements of a possible settlement with large U.S. banks accused of flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices.”

“A bipartisan group of 18 senators called on top Obama administration officials this week to improve federal foreclosure programs, a different track than House Republicans who proposed pulling the plug on foreclosure efforts entirely,” Politico reports.


As the military moves to end its policy of discrimination against gay and lesbian servicemembers, Harvard is welcoming ROTC back onto its campus. Harvard, like many campuses, restricts employers who have a policy of discrimination.

Eight GOP senators are ramping up the filibuster wars just one month after GOP leaders promised to curb filibusters.

In an angry, spite-filed decision, Judge Roger Vinson nonetheless decided to stay his decision striking down the Affordable Care Act.

LGBT Equality

“Confusion over the future of the Defense of Marriage Act won’t have any effect on the ongoing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal before the Defense Department – at least for now.”

“A gay-marriage bill, which was expected to be sure thing in Maryland’s House of Delegates, suddenly has a questionable future, as members wait to cast a committee vote. ”

“A poll conducted by Pew Research Center indicates that gay marriage is becoming more widely accepted among independent voters.”

Health Care

“After a highly charged three-hour markup, the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to approve a bill that would deny federal funding for abortions. ”

“A study released Thursday said that the nation’s five biggest health-benefit carriers saw a double-digit increase in profits during 2010.”

“Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposal to eliminate funding for about one-fifth of the state’s Medicaid recipients as part of a budget-balancing measure would require a six-month phase out of the program and an enrollment freeze for new members.”


Education Secretary Duncan said yesterday that “laying off teachers based solely on seniority was ‘a wrong way to cut spending.'”

Idaho’s House Education Committee approved legislation yesterday that would restrict teachers’ collective bargaining rights. The legislation has already passed the state senate.

Democratic Senators look to modify the 90/10 rule, in an attempt to limit the amount of federal money flowing to the for-profit college industry.


“President Obama on Thursday appeared to reject the idea of arming U.S. agents in Mexico.”

A bill, which “contains language that would require all but the smallest employers in the state to use a federal database to verify if a prospective hire is or is not a legal resident of the United States,” passed “the Georgia House of Representatives Thursday.”

“A coalition of Kansas business groups launched a campaign Wednesday against immigration proposals it argues are burdensome to companies and local governments.”

Climate Change

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Dan Boren (D-OK) have signed on to the Upton-Inhofe climate science prevention act

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is heading to Pennsylvania today to investigate whether EPA officials suppressed their own scientists’ efforts to examine the dangers of natural gas fracking.

A raging Florida wildfire has destroyed almost 17,000 acres, and forecasters warn of flash floods in Midwest.