Thursday, August 03, 2006
Political Hot Topics
RUMMY FLIP-FLOPS, OPTS TO TESTIFY: Under criticism, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reversed course late Wednesday and agreed to testify Thursday at a public hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Signs of simmering tensions between Mr. Rumsfeld and some members of the committee had emerged earlier in the day when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, sent him a letter expressing frustration at his decision not to testify. New York Times: Rumsfeld, in Reversal, Agrees to Testify at Senate Hearing

OPPOSITE DAY IN SENATE OVER MINIMUM WAGE: For years, organized labor has worked hard to raise the minimum wage, while business groups have campaigned to block such a change. This week in the Senate, however, the AFL-CIO is pushing to kill the wage increase while practically the entire business lobby is demanding that it pass. The reversal is the product of election-year politics and clever -- critics say devious -- legislative packaging that has been dubbed the "trifecta." In the same bill, senators are being asked to raise the minimum wage (the liberals' goal), cut the estate tax (the conservatives' objective) and approve a laundry list of popular, though narrowly targeted, tax breaks. Washington Post: An Estate Tax Twist Reverses Party Roles On Minimum Wage

BIG OIL GETS A BOOST FROM CONGRESS: Big oil has been pressing Congress for years to expand its rights to drill for domestic offshore oil and gas, with little to show for its efforts. But with tensions in the Middle East and gasoline prices at home rising, the industry's fortunes on Capitol Hill may be changing. Both houses of Congress have now passed legislation on new exploration, and though the bills differ, any final version is expected to liberalize offshore drilling for the oil companies. New York Times: Senate Bill Lifts Hopes of Big Oil Offshore

GOP, DEMS GET READY TO RUMBLE: Republican and Democratic Senators sought to stake out ground in their upcoming monthlong battle for the majority on Wednesday, using the Washington, D.C., megaphone one last time to build early momentum for their messages to voters. As GOP Senators ramped up their case for remaining in charge by touting a laundry list of accomplishments from the 109th Congress, Democrats continued their election-year push for a "New Direction for America" -- the party's platform for a prospective majority. Roll Call: Ready to Exit on a Feisty Note

IN REVERSAL, SENATE OKS BORDER FENCE: The Senate did an abrupt about-face yesterday, voting overwhelmingly to begin paying for 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, just three weeks after voting against the same spending. The amendment's sponsor said senators were so embarrassed by that July 13 vote that most felt they had to reverse course and vote for it this time -- especially after so many were on record in May voting to build the fence in the first place. The amendment, which provides nearly $2 billion for the project, passed 94-3, with 66 senators switching from "no" to "yes" votes since last month. Washington Times: Senate votes to fund the fence

EX-BUSH AIDE ADMITS GUILT: Former White House adviser Claude A. Allen is expected to plead guilty tomorrow to a misdemeanor theft charge after reaching a deal with Montgomery County prosecutors that probably will spare him from jail, according to court documents filed yesterday. As part of the agreement, Allen's attorneys and Montgomery prosecutors plan to recommend to a District Court judge in Rockville that Allen be given an $850 restitution fine. Washington Post: Ex-Bush Aide Makes Plea Deal in Thefts

GOP HOPE TO WIN OVER JEWISH VOTERS Republicans are hoping a strong defense of Israel translates into greater support among Jewish voters this fall, but the biggest political benefits are likely to come long after the 2006 campaign concludes, according to political and demographic experts studying Jewish voting trends. The Jewish group proving most receptive to Republican overtures over the past decade is among the smallest: Orthodox Jews. Right now, they account for roughly 10 percent of the estimated 5.3 million Jews in the United States, hardly enough to tip most elections. Washington Post: Future of Orthodox Jewish Vote Has Implications for GOP

RANGEL: I'M OUT IF DEMS DON'T WIN:: Representative Charles B. Rangel, the dean of New York's Congressional delegation, said on Wednesday that he would leave Congress if Democrats failed to win control of the House of Representatives in the fall elections. In an interview, Mr. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, expressed exasperation at the prospect that Americans might vote to keep Republicans in power yet again given what he said was the troubling direction the nation has taken. New York Times: Rangel Plans Exit if Party Fails

LIEBERMAN TARGETS RIVAL'S RICHES: His great-grandfather was J. P. Morgan's right-hand man and partner. His great-uncle ran the American Civil Liberties Union. The main undergraduate library at Harvard bears the family's name. So does an earth science observatory at Columbia University and a dormitory at Smith College. Now, as Ned Lamont campaigns to unseat United States Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in next week's Democratic primary, his wealth and family pedigree have become an issue in one of this year's most closely watched election campaigns. Facing his first serious challenge in 18 years as a senator, Mr. Lieberman has sought to brand Mr. Lamont as a wealthy dilettante who is trying to buy his way into office, and who is out of touch with ordinary Americans. One of Mr. Lieberman's first advertisements began: "Meet Ned Lamont. He's a Greenwich millionaire." New York Times: Lieberman Uses Rival's Wealth as Issue in Race

CRAZY AND CUTTHROAT IN NEVADA: Nevada's wide-open race for governor is being fought with sock puppets, cardboard cutouts, "Star Wars" parodies and Internet close-ups of an elephant's backside. With no incumbent in the race and no hand-picked successor to popular Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, the Democrats and the Republicans are locked in primary contests that have given rise to zany personal attacks and not much debate on the issues. Washington Times: Nevada campaigns get personal

POLITICS GETS PERSONAL ON VACATION: The new cable network Plum TV, playing in a number of high-end vacation destinations, recently debuted a program to show the personal side of America's most influential people in politics. "Beyond Politics," hosted by author Stan Pottinger, aims to "personify people that too often get pigeonholed into one or two quotes" by holding one-on-one, informal conversations, said producer Graham Veysey. So far, Plum has aired two episodes, one with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the other with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). Roll Call: Politics Goes on Vacation
Posted By Xuan Thai, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/03/2006 10:26:00 AM ET | Permalink
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