The WonkLine: March 7, 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.



White House chief of staff Bill Daley said yesterday that “the Obama administration is considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help ease the soaring price of gasoline at the pump.”

As House Republicans try to cut its budget, a new report found that “the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is about 400 employees short of what it needs to manage its current workload.”

“Food, not oil, may prove to be the bigger threat to global growth, with the pain falling disproportionately upon the developing economies that powered the latest economic recovery,” Reuters reports.


The federal judicial vacancy crisis has become so severe in Rhode Island that its two remaining judges are being forced to reassign cases to New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

New York Republicans are furious that they will no longer be able to count inmates as their constituents for the purposes of determining legislative districts.

Kentucky could make hunting a fundamental constitutional right.

National Security

“With tanks, helicopters and fighter planes, troops loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi attacked rebel troops in the coastal town of Bin Jawwad on Sunday and pushed them east.”

“American military planners are sifting through a range of options as the United States, like other Western nations, weighs the response to the bloody Libyan military assaults on rebels trying to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.”

“Egypt’s interim prime minister appointed a new caretaker cabinet on Sunday, answering a public demand to eliminate most ministers with links to former President Hosni Mubarak, even as protesters nationwide continued to try to storm the offices of hated institutions.”

LGBT Equality

“Rep. Barney Frank, the longest-serving openly gay member of Congress, predicted that the United States could see an end to legal discrimination against LGBT people in his lifetime.”

“Maryland’s marriage equality bill has passed out of committee 12-10, sending the bill, which already has been approved by the state Senate, to the full House of Delegates.”

“Chicago-Kent College of Law’s first LGBT civil rights conference,” which was a “daylong series of programs deal[ing] with issues such as the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the legal and medical challenges facing transgender people in Chicago, drew a larger-than-expected attendance of 200 people Saturday.”

Health Care

House Republicans are pushing “a new strategy for starving the new healthcare law of funds. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health subcommittee, said he will hold hearings next week to craft legislation that would re-designate healthcare reform spending so that it is discretionary instead of mandatory.”

The Dept. of Health and Human Services has “announced billions of dollars in new funding to states to provide alternatives to long-term care for Medicaid patients.”

“In a wide-ranging campaign speech to a supportive GOP crowd Saturday, Mitt Romney tackled Romneycare criticism head on and admitted mistakes in the universal insurance law that he championed in Massachusetts.”


“Millions of public school students across the nation are seeing their class sizes swell because of budget cuts and teacher layoffs, undermining a decades-long push by parents, administrators and policy makers to shrink class sizes,” the New York Times reports.

A group of educators and business leaders today will announce their support “for a common curriculum that states could adopt for public schools across the nation.”

Senate Democrats released a fiscal 2011 spending plan on Friday “that would increase funding for Title I, restore money for the Striving Readers program, and extend Race to the Top.”


“In the first move by a state to extend legal recognition to illegal immigrant laborers, the Utah Legislature has passed immigration bills that include a guest worker program that would allow unauthorized foreigners to work legally in the state.”

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon told reporters that the city’s former Public Safety Manager lost his job earlier this week as “payback for his principled stand against SB 1070.”

“U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to immediately crackdown on illegal use of student visas by foreign nationals to attend ‘sham universities’ that exist solely to allow any foreign national with sufficient resources…to unlawfully enter the United States.”

Climate Change

The Center for American Progress Action Fund hosts Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) at 10 am to discuss the fight for energy security and curbing greenhouse pollutants as the great moral issue of our time.

“Arctic sea ice extent for February 2011 tied with February 2005 as the lowest recorded in the satellite record,” with temperatures up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

“With economies still weak and China pushing hard to dominate growing industries such as wind and solar power, clean-energy innovation is emerging as the new front in the global economic fight.”