Morning Briefing: February 9, 2012

Government officials have reached an agreement with five of the nation’s biggest banks on a $26 billion settlement to aid homeowners caught in the home foreclosure crisis. The agreement is the broadest effort yet and could provide relief to nearly 2 million current and former homeowners.

Despite the public outcry, Michigan’s Republican Party chairman defended former congressman Pete Hoekstra’s controversial ad. Bobby Schostak called the spot’s stereotyping of Asians “satirical.”

A growing number of Republican lawmakers want return to earmarks, The Hill reports. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) says Republicans increasingly believe they have ceded too much authority on funding home-state projects to the administration.

Washington state is poised to legalize marriage equality after the state House passed a bill to do so yesterday, which now just requires the governor’s signature. Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) has been a strong supporter of the measure and will sign it in the next few days.

Nancy Brinker, the founder and head of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, admitted that she “mishandled” the Planned Parenthood controversy in her first public comments since the controversy erupted. In a statement to the Washington Post’s Sally Quinn, Brinker wrote that she had “made some mistakes” and said she learned some lessons.

Federal regulators with the Securities and Exchange Commission will sue several big banks for contributing to the financial crisis through the sale of bonds linked to subprime mortgages. The SEC is expected to argue that the banks misrepresented the poor quality of the loans pools they bundled and sold to investors. The suit represents a greater crackdown on Wall Street giants that have yet to be held accountable for their role in the economic downturn.

Young adults have been among those hit hardest by the economic downturn, the AP reports. Americans aged 18 to 34 “have suffered bigger income losses than other age groups and are less likely to be employed than at any time since World War II.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to announce a $10 million campaign today to support 20 congressional candidates, the majority of whom are Republicans. The ads will focus on four Senate races, including candidates such as Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), that Republicans hope to win to gain control of the Senate.

And finally: Who says there are no conservative celebrities? CPAC, the premier annual gathering of conservatives that starts today, will feature some major star power: one member of the Duggar family, Kirk Cameron from “Growing Pains,” and Stephen Baldwin. Meanwhile, Donny Osmond is helping out Mitt Romney. OK, maybe they’re right.