Morning Briefing: March 8, 2012

President Obama fired back at Republicans on gas prices yesterday, saying, “We are not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.” “Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they are talking about or they are not telling you the truth,” he told workers at a Daimler Trucks factory in North Carolina.

Obama is personally lobbying Senate Democrats to reject an amendment calling for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, according to Politico. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) proposed the amendment, which could come up for a vote today, but two Democratic senators already back the proposal: Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Mary Landrieu (LA).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced late Wednesday that the Senate had reached an agreement on a long-stalled transportation authorization bill. He said Democrats and Republicans had come to a deal to allow votes on up to 30 amendments to it, and said he hoped the Senate could finish the bill today.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has reversed his position on the minimum wage. Two months ago, Romney supported raising the minimum wage correspondent to economic growth. But, in a television appearance this week, Romney changed his mind, saying that there is “not a need to raise the minimum wage.”

Newt Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond acknowledged yesterday that the former House speaker needs to win the next two primaries in Alabama and Mississippi in order to remain a viable candidate. Gingrich lags well behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in the delegate race and is counting on outperforming both across the South.

The House is set to vote today on a bill aimed at helping small businesses. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) bill is one of the few economic measures in recent months to garner bipartisan support. The bill aims to ease growth opportunities for small businesses.

As expected, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed a controversial bill requiring women seeking abortions to have a medically unnecessary ultrasounds.

The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state Senate passed a voter ID bill, which wiill require voters to present photo ID at the polls and could suppress the vote of people who don’t have IDs and may have trouble obtaining them.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the founder and director of the Shalom Center in New York City, took aim at the Catholic Church for trying to institute, what he provocatively called, the church’s version of “Sharia Law” with their stance in the ongoing contraception debate.

And finally: Yesterday brought some Rush-on-Rush violence when the Canadian rock band “formally demanded that the Rush Limbaugh Program stop using its music on the air,” in light of the radio host’s attacks on Sandra Fluke. The band wrote a cease and desist letter with the demand.