Morning Briefing: January 31, 2012

Voting is underway in Florida’s GOP presidential primary, and last-minute polls suggest Mitt Romney is heading toward a big win. A new Quinnipiac poll released Monday shows Romney with a double-digit lead over Newt Gingrich. Polls close statewide at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, a full 92 percent of ads that have aired in Florida’s primary have been negative, and they seem to be paying off for the biggest spender, Mitt Romney, who outspent Newt Gingrich at least 5 to 1 in advertising.

Despite a promise of “zero-tolerance” for unethical behavior, House Republicans are facing increasing number of ethics probes. As the 2012 session begins, almost a dozen GOP lawmakers face questions about their financial dealings, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “has not publicly admonished them.”

Continuing to avoid their pledge to focus on jobs, Congressional Republicans are moving toward a vote on making English the official language of the United States. Their aim is to “put the Obama administration on the defensive.”


House Republicans have seen their unfavorable rating skyrocket to 64 percent, as the public lays blame for ugly partisan battles over the debt ceiling and payroll tax holiday, among other things, at their feet. Republicans started 2011 with a 43 percent favorable rating and 46 percent unfavorable rating. The precipitous drop was a subject at a recent House GOP retreat in Baltimore earlier this month.

Following a year when tea party-led Republicans called for steep cuts in government programs, congressional Democrats are looking to new efforts to make wealthy Americans pay their fare share in taxes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) will hold votes on proposals to end tax breaks that corporations and wealthy individuals enjoy.

On a wide bipartisan vote of 93–2 Monday, the Senate voted to start debating the STOCK Act, which would ban members of Congress and their staffs from enriching themselves by using “any non-public information derived from the individual’s position” in Congress. The bill was brought up after media reports showed that lawmakers and staff members profited off stock trades based on information received in private briefings.

Occupy DC camps remain in McPherson Park and Freedom Square Tuesday after the U.S. Park Police’s deadline for eviction passed. Park officials said protesters can remain around the clock “so long as one side of each tent remains open at all times so they can see inside.”

An Indiana Senate Committee voted 6 to 1 to advance a right-to-work bill, a measure that allows workers to “opt out of paying union dues, even when a workplace is unionized.” The full Senate is expected to give final approval Wednesday, sending it to Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) for signature.


And finally: Stephen Colbert’s super PAC announced that it raised over $1 million and included donations from some celebrities, along with the the lieutenant governor of California, former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

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