Morning Briefing: September 13, 2011

Yesterday, in a 53–33 vote, Senate Republicans successfully blocked a $7 billion disaster relief package for victims of recent climate disasters. Needing 60 votes to consider the bill that would also replenish FEMA’s disaster fund, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed Republicans for “playing around the edges of what really needs to be done.”

Also yesterday, President Obama sent his jobs bill to Congress, where it met a frosty reception from Republicans. The $447 billion plan would boost employment and be paid for by raising taxes on the rich and businesses. Republicans quickly took aim at the idea of any tax increases.

The North Carolina House cleared one hurdle on the way to letting voters decide if the state’s constitution should ban same-sex marriage. On Monday, the House approved a measure to send the constitutional ban to the voters, and the Senate is expected to begin discussing the measure today. The issue will be on the May ballot. Our LGBT site has more coverage.

Despite the “widespread belief” that outsourcing work to contractors saves the government money, a new study finds that contractors charged the federal government more than twice the amount it pays federal workers to do the comparable jobs, on average. In 33 out of 35 occupations, contracting cost more than it would have cost for government employees to perform comparable services, the Project on Government Oversight study found.


Militants launched a huge assault on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, with at least 10 explosions being reported around the complex and surrounding buildings. A number of attackers have secured themselves in a building about a half a mile away from the embassy. “We don’t know how many suicide bombers are in the building,” said Col. Abdul Zahir of the Kabul police. “They’re shooting at the embassy. We’re still in fighting position. We can’t say anything.”

According to a new study, college graduates are the fastest-growing group of consumers who have filed for bankruptcy in the past five years. The percentage of debtors with a bachelor’s degree rose from 11.2 percent in 2006 to 13.6 percent in 2010.

And finally: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked in Minneapolis last week if he had seen Too Big To Fail, the HBO documentary about the financial crisis. Bernanke replied, “I didn’t see that movie. I saw the original.”

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