The WonkLine: March 30, 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.


The Obama administration “strongly opposes” a bill from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “that would revive and expand vouchers for low-income students in the District of Columbia.”

“The U.S. Department of Education has approved changes to Race to the Top plans in six states and the District of Columbia, as winners seek to push ambitious project timelines back,” EdWeek reports.


“Indiana’s Republican leadership is pushing ahead with a proposal that would be the nation’s broadest use of school vouchers,” according to the Daily Reporter.

Health Care

“Senate Democratic leaders are considering allowing the House’s 1099 repeal bill to be voted on almost directly, which would swiftly send the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature.”

“Health care lobbyists and advocates are bracing for six pages of the health care reform law to explode into more than 1,000 pages of federal regulations when the Department of Health and Human Services releases its long-delayed accountable care organization rules this week. “

“In a political development that will shock nobody, House Republicans are hauling in the AARP to testify before Congress. “


Immigration officials have “moved swiftly to clarify their position” on granting green cards to immigrants married to U.S. citizens who are gay, saying they have not made any policy changes that would provide an opening to gay couples. According to NPR, the Texas GOP is “changing its tactics on illegal immigration” as the “relatively welcoming, tolerant attitude embraced by George W. Bush when he was governor is waning.” Arizona state Senate President and sponsor of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Russell Pearce, called Georgia’s copycat bill a “well-written, well thought-out piece of badly needed state enforcement legislation.”

National Security

“The Obama administration is engaged in a fierce debate over whether to supply weapons to the rebels in Libya, senior officials said on Tuesday, with some fearful that providing arms would deepen American involvement in a civil war and that some fighters may have links to Al Qaeda.”


“Britain says it has expelled five Libyan diplomats loyal to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime because of their intimidation of opposition supporters and their potential threat to the U.K.’s national security.”

“[Ghana] National Security Advisor, General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, has directed police in Tamale to arrest supporters of the governing National Democratic Congress, who are fomenting troubles in the region.”

LGBT Equality

The Indiana Senate approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. The General Assembly will have to pass it again in 2013–2014 to finalize the amendment.

Even though it was deemed unconstitutional 14 years ago, Montana is still struggling to repeal its law against gay sex.

This morning, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) will introduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act , marking the ninth Congress in which the bill has been introduced.


The Supreme Court appears poised to continue its pattern of favoritism towards big corporate interests by handing them two major victories in a campaign finance case and a major discrimination suit against Wal-Mart.


Meanwhile, the Chamber and its corporate allies are lobbying hard for an unprecedented amendment that would suspend the Affordable Care Act until all the litigation challenging it is finished.

And in Montana, Republicans still aren’t giving up on their wildly unconstitutional plan to nullify health reform.

Climate Change

Climate scientist Michael Mann is suing denier Tim Ball for libel.

The Coast Guard has quietly released an independent review of “how the agency handled last year’s oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.”

A new NASA-funded study has revealed widespread reductions in the greenness of the forests in the vast Amazon basin in South America caused by the record-breaking drought of 2010.


House Republican leaders have begun looking for votes on their 2011 spending plan amongst conservative Democrats, after “having difficulty finding consensus within their own ranks.”

“An Ohio House panel approved a measure Tuesday curbing collective-bargaining rights for 350,000 state public workers, softening several measures that some Republicans opposed while strengthening other restrictions,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“IBM is breaking with other American multinationals by not pushing for a corporate tax holiday,” The Hill reports.