ThinkFast: March 11, 2010

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) issued a new directive yesterday distancing himself from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s effort to strip protections for LGBT students from all state colleges and university non-discrimination policies. McDonnell initially supported Cuccinelli’s legal reasoning, but he subsequently received significant criticism from college students and faculty members. McDonnell’s directive does not have the authority of an executive order though.

“The Senate approved $140 billion in extended tax breaks and unemployment benefits” yesterday along a 62–36 vote. House Democrats have criticized the Senate legislation as too reliant on tax cuts. “That’s all well and good, but the real jobs are in [infrastructure spending],” said Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) of the Senate bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said yesterday that he supports revising the Senate’s filibuster rules at the beginning of the next Congress. “The filibuster has been abused,” he said, adding that “the Republicans have abused that just like the spitball was abused in baseball and the four-corner offense was abused in basketball.”

“House Democratic leaders on Wednesday banned budget earmarks to private industry,” one of the biggest steps taken yet by Congress to combat earmark corruption. “The political reality right now is that the public has lost some confidence in this institution, and one of the reasons is the past abuses of the earmark process,” said Rep. David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.


A group of lawmakers from the Hispanic Caucus are threatening to vote against the health care bill unless certain immigration-related provisions are changed. The caucus members are opposed to Senate language that bars undocumented immigrants from buying insurance from the proposed exchanges with their own money; they plan to meet with the White House to discuss their concerns today.

President Obama is pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “to go further than Obama has previously disclosed” to strip the special deals for individual senators from the final health care reform bill. These include Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) “Cornhusker Kickback” and a handful of other deals.

The Labor Department reported yesterday that 31 states and the District of Columbia reported net gains in employment in January, “providing further evidence that the economy is slowly gaining momentum.” The state-by-state Bureau of Labor Statistics data “suggested that employers have stopped firing workers and are starting to hire.”

“Previously undisclosed e-mail messages” provide new evidence about Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) “efforts to steer lobbying work to the embittered husband of his former mistress and could deepen his legal and political troubles.” The e-mails document Ensign’s suggestion “that a Las Vegas development firm hire the husband.”

And finally: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), comic book character.

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