The WonkLine: July 23, 2009

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 a.m. roundup of the latest news about health care, the economy, national security, immigration and climate policy. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below, and subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.

Health Care

Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) walked out of bipartisan health care talks yesterday. “Right now, with some of the provisions in there, I just can’t do it,” Hatch told reporters.

According to the Associated Press, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Democrats have the votes needed to pass health care reform. Pelosi has also hinted that she might delay Congress’ vacation in order to get a health care vote.


After a threat of a suit from a government watchdog group, the Obama administration has released a letter with the names of health care executives that have visited with the White House.


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke came out against the Obama administration’s proposal to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Bernanke’s comments “represented the Fed’s most high-profile public opposition to a stand-alone consumer agency.”

Bloomberg reports that “the Obama administration’s plan to expand the Federal Reserve’s powers to oversee financial firms is failing to win supporters in Congress as some lawmakers back a proposal to give the responsibility to several regulators.”

Time’s Stephen Gandel asks if bailed-out bank Citigroup can ever turn it around.


Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) is reinserting himself into the immigration debate with the introduction of the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act, a harsh enforcement-only bill introduced today. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is visiting detention centers in Texas and meeting with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and other civil rights groups dealing with the problems at immigrant detention centers. A South Florida hospital is defending its decision to secretly deport a patient who was suffering from serious brain injuries in a lawsuit brought forth by the patient’s brother which will likely go to a jury today.

National Security

Calling it a “victory for peace,” north and south Sudan have accepted a ruling by a Hague court that divided disputed oilfields in the Abyei region between north and south, an important ruling ahead of a 2011 referendum in which Abyei is likely to opt to join the autonomous south.


Yesterday, Vice President Biden “bluntly addressed the most volatile issue dividing Russia and the West,” rejecting “Kremlin claims to an exclusive sphere of influence over former Soviet states.”

The Obama administration continues to resist efforts to learn more about the Bush Administration’s controversial anti-terror practices, rebuffing United Nations officials seeking more information on secret CIA prisons and to visit the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Climate Change

Senate Agriculture chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said limits on global warming pollution should have an “off ramp” if other nations like China and India “don’t join us” in three to five years.

Just as 9/11 taught us the painful lesson that oceans could not protect us from terror, today we are deluding ourselves if we believe that climate change will stop at our borders,” Senate Foreign Relations chairman John Kerry (D-MA) said in a hearing on the national security implications of global warming yesterday.

The Politico quotes anonymous sources who criticize Senate Environment and Public Works chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as “embarassing,” “abrasive,” “outspoken,” “partisan,” and someone who “takes it to really a very personal level.”