The WonkLine: February 18, 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.


DOJ asked Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson to clarify that his error-ridden opinion does not allow states to flout the Affordable Care Act while his decision is subject to appeal. If Vinson were to say that his decision takes immediate effect, that would add one more Supreme Court decision to the long list of precedents his opinion ignored.

Sens. Coburn and Inhofe (R-OK) are now demanding that Obama withdraw his only Native American nominee to the federal bench, even though they refuse to explain why they are making this bizarre demand.


The Arizona Senate has now taken the lead in the nationwide contest among Republican lawmakers to see who can pass the most unconstitutional bill.

LGBT Equality

“Legislation that would legalize same-sex marriages in Maryland was approved Thursday afternoon by a Senate committee, easily clearing the first hurdle needed for passage this year by the General Assembly.”

“The National Organization for Marriage recently commissioned Lawrence Research to conduct a survey of opinions on gay marriage in Maryland,” an organization heavily involved in passing California’s Proposition 8.

“The Wyoming Senate advanced legislation to ban recognition of gay marriages from outside Wyoming, though not before potentially opening the door to recognizing out-of-state civil unions.”

Climate Change

Kentucky state legislator Brandon Smith (R-KY) has submitted a bill to make Kentucky a “sanctuary state” for coal, free from “the overreaching regulatory power” of the EPA, forbidding the federal government from enforcing any rules against coal pollution.


Gulf disaster company BP is complaining that the terms of the fund to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are too generous.

Climate disasters in Germany have tripled since 1970.

National Security

“The severity of a Libyan crackdown on a so-called “Day of Rage” began to emerge Friday when a human rights advocacy group said 24 people had been killed by gunfire and news reports said further clashes with security were feared at the funerals for the dead.” “Thousands of mourners gathered in Bahrain at the funerals of slain demonstrators on Friday.” “Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians joined nationwide demonstrations Friday to mark the fall a week ago of President Hosni Mubarak.”


In a speech today before G-20 finance leaders, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will offer “his most pointed rebuttal yet on Friday to foreign critics who say the U.S. central bank’s easy-money policies are causing inflation and asset bubbles abroad.”


“Rising global demand for food and fuel pushed up the U.S. cost of living more than forecast in January, a sign the risk of a damaging drop in prices is ebbing.”

“The Senate on Thursday approved a two-year, $35 billion aviation bill that avoids contentious labor-management issues while encouraging greater airline competition on routes between the West Coast and the nation’s capital.”


Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R-GA) and state lawmakers have agreed to reduce the state’s cash-strapped HOPE scholarship program by about 90 percent and end support for students’ books and fees.

“With strong GOP support and some Democratic backing, lawmakers seem on track to pass amendment to stop Education Department from enforcing restrictions on for-profit colleges.”

A new study from the Education Department shows that the economic-stimulus package Congress passed two years a go saved or created 367,524 education-related jobs during the 2009–2010 school year.

Health Care

“The Justice Department on Thursday asked a federal trial judge to clarify the immediate impact of his ruling last month that declared the new health-care law unconstitutional.”

“House GOP efforts to block the federal health care law from taking effect haven’t deterred states from moving ahead to implement key provisions — with the help of millions of tax dollars from Washington.”

“Millions of Americans could temporarily be left without insurance coverage under the recent health care reform legislation, according to a study co-authored by Benjamin D. Sommers, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.”


“Police chiefs and sheriffs came to the Texas Capitol Thursday to denounce proposals they said would make communities less safe by tasking them with the additional responsibility of enforcing immigration laws.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified “more than 1,000 U.S. companies” that “agents will be auditing them to ensure they are not employing undocumented workers.”

“Kansas joined Arizona on the front lines of one of America’s hottest political debates Thursday when conservative state leaders introduced legislation targeting illegal immigrants.