NATO helicopter raids ended a six-hour attack by suicide bombers at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, early this morning. Nine attackers entered the hotel late Tuesday to search out foreign guests in town for a conference on transitioning Afghan security. The attacks left 21 dead, including nine Afghan civilians and two police officers, and 14 injured.
The U.S. has spent at least $3.7 trillion on wars since 9/11 in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to a new report from Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. The final price tag could end up as high as $4.4 trillion and even that estimate does not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments nor “many billions more in expenses that cannot be counted.”
Yesterday, Senate Democrats renewed their push for the DREAM Act, legislation that would grant young undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn citizenship by either going to college or serving in the military. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asserted GOP opposition to the bill, arguing, “It will provide an incentive for future illegal immigration.”
President Obama will hold a news conference at 11:30 this morning, “giving reporters the chance to ask about talks on the budget and debt limit, the NATO mission against Libya, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and more.”
A new Suffolk University shows Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) gaining momentum in the New Hampshire primary, though she is still a distant second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R). Romney leads with 36 percent, but Bachmann is the only other candidate in double digits, gaining support from 11 percent of likely voters — up from 3 percent in May.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is threatening to ground the Senate to a standstill by blocking unanimous consent agreements, which allow the Senate to bypass its arcane procedure for non-controversial actions. Johnson’s lone dissent on any bill could be broken with a 60-vote super majority and a lengthy cloture process, so Johnson’s move would effectively stop all but the most critical legislation in the upper chamber.
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) have introduced a debt-savings package that would cut $600 billion in Medicare spending, in part by raising the eligibility age. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) termed it “a bad idea.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called it “unacceptable.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced that a group of three senators has reached an agreement to end a major ethanol tax credit and import tariff. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD), however, cautioned that the deal was not yet done. Klobuchar and Thune are seeking biofuel incentives to replace the ethanol credit.
Testifying before the Senate yesterday, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh apologized to the senators on behalf of the White House “for not sharing information about the mission with Congress sooner, but maintained that the ‘unique’ intervention in Libya doesn’t qualify as the sort of hostilities envisioned by the authors of the War Powers Resolution.”
And finally: Hollywood train wreck Lindsay Lohan took an oddly political turn yesterday when she channeled Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) by tweeting, “Have you guys seen food and gas prices lately? U.S. $ will soon be worthless if the Fed keeps printing money!” It turns out she was paid to send the tweet to her 2 million followers by the National Inflation Association, which appears to be a front for a shady pump-and-dump stock broker.