Morning Briefing: June 8, 2011

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has not only grown his staff and given himself a salary increase since assuming his new position this past January. Roll Call reports that he has also more than doubled his expense account from $833 to $2,083.33. The funds come in the form of a monthly direct payment, not a reimbursement for individual itemized expenses. Boehner’s office wasn’t willing to offer many details about how his expense checks are spent.

Rep. Michele Bachmann has hired long-time Republican operative and frequent CNN pundit Ed Rollins to run her presidential campaign. Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll notes that this past January, Rollins dismissed Bachmann as someone who was not a “serious player.”

More than a third of voters “have some qualms” about a Mormon president, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that could point to trouble for Mormon presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Overall, just 45 percent of voters had favorable views of Mormonism, while 32 percent had unfavorable ones.

With the Senate approaching a showdown over debit card swipe fees, consumers are caught in the middle of two influential lobbies: financial institutions and merchants. A new rule to be voted on today would cap swipe fees on debit card transactions. Both sides are attempting to persuade lawmakers that they have consumers’ interests at heart.

Leading the charge against President Obama’s Commerce Department pick, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) handed out a one-pager at the GOP policy lunch yesterday blasting John Bryson as an “environmental extremist” who will “make it harder and more expensive for the private sector to create jobs.” While his office said it’s too early to promise a filibuster or hold, Barrasso will “oppose his nomination.”

America’s expensive nation-building effort in Afghanistan has had little success and likely won’t survive once American troops are withdrawn, according to a new report by the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Even the positive results of nation-building aren’t sustainable, the report says, as the Afghan government has neither the funds nor the capacity to continue the programs once the U.S. leaves.

U.S. District Court Judge James Cacheris reaffirmed his earlier ruling that “the century-old ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates violates the First Amendment.” Cacheris said the logic behind the recent Citizens United decision led to the “inescapable” conclusion that companies can donate directly to candidates as well.

And finally: Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) isn’t going to take it lying down…in a tanning bed. Perhaps on the advice of Snooki, the freshman former FBI-agent congressman is leading an effort, which has garnered 23 co-sponsors, to repeal the 10 percent tax on indoor tanning included in the Affordable Care Act. “American small-business owners, the drivers of our economy, don’t think it’s a laughing matter,” Grimm said.

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