Morning Briefing: February 10, 2012

The White House will likely announce “an accommodation” for religious groups angered by its new rule requiring employers — including organizations with religious affiliations — to offer health insurance that fully covers birth control. ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that the deal with be respectful of religious beliefs, but the move most likely will not satisfy bishops and religious leaders.

House Financial Services Chair, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) faces an insider-trading probe by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Bachus received over 44 percent of his campaign donations last quarter from the industries he oversees.

Nine months ahead of Election Day, participants at the Conservative Political Action Conference reflect the same disenchantment with Republican presidential candidates and weariness of Republican in-fighting that voters have complained about on the campaign trail. “I know it’s a long shot, but I wish someone like Daniels or Christie would come along and win the nomination at a brokered convention,” said a Republican activist from Virginia.

Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan notes that both cable news and broadcast news are down, suggesting interest in politics “on both the left and the right, are relatively flat, with mild increases here and there.”

The right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce begins a multi-million dollar ad campaign in congressional races. The independent expenditures aim to help 11 Republican allies of big business in House races and 8 Senate races, as well as Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT).

The Oklahoma Democrat who introduced an “Every Sperm is Sacred” amendment to the state senate’s controversial Personhood Bill writes in The Guardian that her amendment was meant “to draw humorous attention to the hypocrisy and inconsistency of this proposal,” which would declare that life begins at conception and grant full legal protection to the fetus.

Lawmakers in Virginia passed legislation that will allow adoption agencies to deny placement of children based on their religious or moral beliefs, including gay couples in the state. Governor McDonnell has said he will sign it, making Virginia the second state after North Dakota to pass such a law.

And finally: This week, Virginia state Rep. Robert Bell passed a bill that allows Virginia’s homeschooled students to play at their local high schools despite not attending that school. The passage of the so-called Tebow legislation (in honor of home-schooled Tim Tebow) excited Bell so much that he bent over on a knee in the Virginia House chamber and broke into the “Tebowing” pose.

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