Morning Briefing: November 1, 2011

A dozen Democratic lawmakers are taking part in a food stamp challenge organized by religious groups, which encourages them to spend no more than $31.50 a week on groceries. That comes to just $4.50 a day. It’s an effort to help lawmakers understand what it’s like to rely on the program.

The net worth of members of Congress rose nearly 25 percent to $2 billion in 2010, according to analysis done by Roll Call. The totals “vastly underestimate” the actual wealth of members by leaving out the value of some assets and only focusing on their minimum reported net worth. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), with a minimum net worth of $294 million, is the richest member of Congress.

After facing a firestorm of questions yesterday about sexual harassment allegations, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain admitted yesterday that he knew of the complaint and financial settlement for at least one female employee at the National Restaurant Association. He insisted he was “falsely accused” and that the “only thing he could be guilty of is the act of complimenting women in group settings as a way of being polite.”

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has called for a referendum on Greece’s bailout package, roiling stock markets and angering Germany and many of the nation’s European neighbors. A German leader said the move may force the euro zone to cut Greece off.

The White House has asked the Pentagon for recommendations on troop levels in Afghanistan for 2013 and 2014, the first step in laying out the final withdrawal of American forces from the country. In 2013, further withdrawals could follow the initial draw-down of 33,000 troops that is scheduled to occur by next September.

As it did in Alabama and Arizona, the Justice Department is suing South Carolina over the state’s harsh new immigration law, saying it preempts federal authority. The state’s law also could lead to the harassment of citizens and legal immigrants, according to court documents.

Federal Judge Aleta Trauger ruled yesterday that Occupy Nashville protesters are “allowed to be on state property near the Tennessee Capitol at any time of day.” The ruling sided with the dozens of protesters that police arrested over the weekend “for violating a recently created curfew.”

As the deficit super committee nears its November 23 deadline for completion, there is growing momentum for cuts to Social Security benefits. Asked about Social Security, super committee co-chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said “everything is on the table.”

A new study that was presented at a Washington, DC health conference yesterday found that children who have parents deployed in the military are “twice as likely to carry a weapon, join a gang or be involved in fights.” The study comes as 2 million children had at least one parent in the military last year.

And finally: GOP presidential non-frontrunner Jon Huntsman was bitten by a goat this weekend while campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend, though the animal’s owner said it was more of “a love nip” than vicious bite.

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