The WonkLine: March 18, 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

“Hours after the United Nations Security Council voted to authorize military action and the imposition of a no-flight zone, Libya performed what seemed a remarkable about-face after weeks of defiance, saying it would call an ‘immediate ceasefire and the stoppage of all military operations’ against rebels seeking the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.”

“Japan has raised the alert level at a stricken nuclear plant from four to five on a seven-point international scale for atomic incidents.”

“Security forces and government supporters opened fire on demonstrators on Friday as the largest protest so far in Yemen came under violent and sustained attack in the center of the capital, Sana.”

LGBT Equality

13 activists, including eight veterans “who were arrested last year for protesting ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ at the White House are scheduled to head to federal court [today] and may face up to six months in prison if found guilty.”

In an op-ed, “Senator John Kerry called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and its replacement with legislation to make same sex couples eligible for federal benefits.”

“A U.S. House committee on Tuesday approved an amendment to major Treasury department legislation that would pressure countries overseas that persecute LGBT people or religious minority groups” to end “gross violations of human rights.”


A Tennessee House committee advanced a bill that limits collective bargaining rights for teachers, while tea party groups criticize the measure for not going far enough.

House Republicans yesterday held a hearing to defend the for-profit college industry (and its myriad abuses), saying that new regulations on the industry are unnecessary.

Gov. C.L. Otter (R-ID) signed two education measures into law yesterday. The first restricts teachers’ collective bargaining rights, while the second sets up a merit pay system.


Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, threw a tantrum and refused to confirm anyone who has received a recess appointment.

The GOP can’t even unify its own members behind a misguided balanced budget amendment.

DOJ has determined that New Orleans police “used deadly force without justification, repeatedly made unconstitutional arrests and engaged in racial profiling.”


The Arizona Senate soundly defeated five anti-immigrant bills yesterday, including one which aimed to change the 14th Amendment’s citizenship provision and another that would’ve required schools to check immigration status.

A new poll shows that California’s Latino voters across the state hold widely negative views of the Republican Party.

The Service Employees International Union is openly criticizing the Department of Homeland Security’s shift in immigration enforcement efforts for the first time.

Health Care

“Vermont’s House Health Care committee is set to approve a bill today that sets the state on the path of a single-payer health care system.”

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared Thursday that a Republican proposal seeking to ban taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood will not be part of any agreement to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.”

In an effort to defy the federal health reform law, the Georgia House voted yesterday to join a proposed insterstate health care compact pushed by tea party groups.

Climate Change

“A dozen Senate Democrats,” led by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), “are pushing U.S. commodities regulators to crack down on what they call excessive speculation in oil futures markets.”

“The temperature in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India skyrocketed to an all-time high of 107°F (41.6°C) yesterday, March 16, at the downtown Colaba observatory.”

“The heatwave that scorched eastern Europe in 2010, killing thousands of people and devastating crops, was the worst since records began and led to the warmest summer on the continent for at least 500 years,” a new scientific analysis has revealed.


“The United States and other major industrialized nations joined in a rare coordinated currency intervention on Friday to keep the Japanese yen from rising too sharply in value,” the Washington Post reports.

“CEO bonuses at 50 major corporations jumped a median of 30.5%, the biggest gain in at least three years,” according to a study conducted for the Wall Street Journal.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced legislation yesterday that would compel “hedge funds and major financial institutions to foot the bill for housing relief programs.”