House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) disputed a report that the House GOP was willing to give up its Medicare overhaul plan in order to find common ground in budget negotiations. Beginning today, Cantor will participate in the bipartisan budget summit led by Vice President Joe Biden, and the Medicare overhaul is still on the table. “The starting point is the Ryan budget, period,” Cantor’s spokesperson said.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he had seen no proof that methods like waterboarding played a significant role in tracking down Osama bin Laden. “So far I know of no information that was obtained, that would have been useful, by ‘advanced interrogation,’” he said.
South Carolina hosts the first GOP presidential primary debate tonight, but it will likely be more noteworthy for who isn’t there than who is. Among the party’s perceived top-tier candidates, only former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will appear. Meanwhile, the Associated Press and Reuters are declining to cover the debate, citing press restrictions by host Fox News.
Conservative Billionaire David Koch said he will remain neutral in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, even though top Mitt Romney supporters have said Koch told them Romney had his support. Koch “backed” Romney in 2008, but said, “only next year will I take a position.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to unveil an energy legislation package today, starting with a bill that would end government subsidies for oil companies. Pelosi’s announcement comes on the same day the House is debating expediting the permit process for oil drilling, and one day after House Republicans launched their own oil-funded energy task force.
Yesterday, the Florida Senate approved an immigration law that would “require the police to make ‘a reasonable effort’ to determine the immigration status of people they arrest and jail,” a provision many are comparing to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. Gov. Rick Scott (R) campaigned on bringing an Arizona-style law to Florida.
“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton strikingly refused on Thursday to rule out further negotiations” with the Palestinian Authority after the recent deal to form a unity government between Hamas and Fatah. The Israeli government has condemned the unity government, and there are calls in Congress to cut off all assistance to the Palestinians.
And finally: First Lady Michele Obama professed her love for Beyonce this week, telling school children, “I know you all love Beyonce, right? Me too!” She then danced along with the kids as they performed a choreographed dance to Beyonce’s “Move Your Body.” (“And for the record, the first lady knew the moves too.”) Meanwhile, Beyonce made a surprise appearance at a Brooklyn public school to dance with the kids. Beyonce also made a surprise appearance at a school in Harlem yesterday.