The WonkLine: April 25, 2011

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 a.m. roundup of the latest public policy news. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) yesterday “called for an aggressive federal probe — including a possible grand jury — into whether rising gasoline prices stem from illegal manipulation of energy markets.”

The Hill reports that senate aides “expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to force Senate Republicans to vote on the Paul Ryan budget plan.”


Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said yesterday that “he can accept tax reform that increases overall tax revenue as part of a comprehensive deficit reduction plan.”

Climate Change

An aide to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) claimed that “Democrats are using the federal probe of potential energy market abuses that President Obama unveiled yesterday to sap focus from expanding domestic energy production.”

“Serious safety lapses by oil rig owner and operator Transocean Ltd contributed to the massive blowout and spill at a BP Plc well in the Gulf of Mexico,” the Coast Guard said in a new report.

“Hot, dry weather returns to Texas this week, whisking away the limited relief scattered thunderstorms brought to firefighters” battling widespread wildfires.

LGBT Equality

A brutal videotaped beating in a McDonald’s, originally trumpeted as “reverse racism,” is now being investigated as a possible hate crime because the victim is transgender.


The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown admits that his motive is defending Scriptural marriage, not civil marriage as the organization normally claims.

Alleging that the presence of a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus violates the campus’s nondiscrimination policy for sexual orientation, students at Indiana University South Bend have filed a formal complaint against the university’s Chancellor.


Remember when George W. Bush was in office and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that an up or down vote on each judicial nominee is a “matter of fundamental fairness and it is the Senate’s constitutional duty to act on each nomination?

Today, the Supreme Court will release another round of orders granting and denying petitions to hear cases. It is likely — if not 100 percent certain — that they will deny Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) petition for premature review of his health care case.

The Washington Post provides a lengthy post-mortem of the Obama Administration’s struggle with Congress over Gitmo.

National Security

The New York Times reports on a trove of more than 700 classified military documents detailing accounts of men who have been detained at Guantanamo Bay and offering new insight into evidence against those still locked up there.


The Obama administration is readying sanctions against top Syrian officials who are overseeing the violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters there.

NATO war planes have stepped up attacks on Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, including striking the Libyan leader’s compound in Tripoli three times as of this morning.


“More than 40 Nobel Prize-winning scientists are urging Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana lawmakers to repeal a law” that they say opens the door to the teaching of creationism.

100 schools in New York City have adopted the National Governors Association’s common academic standards.

A bill stripping some university faculty members of their collective bargaining rights is making its way through the Connecticut legislature.


Hundreds of protesters are gathering in Tallahassee to convince lawmakers to vote no on a proposal to bring Arizona-style laws to Florida. Democratic leaders in Kansas’ state legislature plan to introduce a resolution condemning a state representative who suggested that undocumented immigrants should be shot like feral hogs. The Boston Globe reports that “Immigrant advocates in Massachusetts say they are preparing an ‘intense’ lobbying effort to help about 20,000 legal immigrants who are at risk of losing their state-sponsored health care coverage.”

Health Care

“Possible presidential candidate Rick Santorum conceded Sunday that he made a ‘mistake’ in voting for the Medicare prescription drug benefit back in 2003.”

“Attack ads on Medicare have begun popping up on radio in key congressional districts.”

“Republicans have an effective slogan for their health care agenda: ‘repeal and replace.’ The problem is, they can agree only on the first half; agreeing on what to put in place of last year’s health care law is the hard part.”